Review: Anger Management

I haven’t liked an Adam Sandler movie since Happy Gilmore and Anger Management certainly did not break that streak.

The story, as you no doubt figured out from any trailer or commercial put out about this movie, revolves around the sentence given to Adam Sandler’s character after he is arrested for assaulting a stewardess while in flight. The judge makes him attend anger management classes taught by Jack Nicholson’s character, a renowned psychologist. After a bar fight, the judge orders Adam Sandler to attend intensive sessions, which turns out to be 30 days of Jack Nicholson shadowing his every move.

If this reminds you of Seinfeld‘s show within the show, you’re not alone. It was stupid then—consciously so in Seinfeld—and it’s even stupider here. To think that the American judicial system would assign a highly-paid, prominent psychologist to live with you (even sleeping in the same bed) for thirty days over the matter of a rude comment to a stewardess and the punching of a waiter during a bar fight is stretching credibility.

I’m perfectly fine with suspending disbelief and giving movies the benefit of the doubt—how else would you explain my love of Jackie Chan movies?—but that doesn’t give the screenwriter carte blanche to assault my intelligence. There have been plenty of slapstick movies that had me laughing in the aisles over relatively trivial situations, just none with Adam Sandler since Happy Gilmore. In fact, I found his Mr. Deeds to be singular in its disdain for the audience.

Anger Management took a horrible turn for the worse at the end. It turns out that the entire story, from the stewardess to the judge to the psychologist, was all a fabrication by Sandler’s fiancée to get him to deal with his doormat personality. The deus ex machina style of plot resolution has never sat well with me, but in the hands of an expert storyteller, I suppose it could work out. The screenwriter, as already noted, is anything but expert. It is the cheapest way to end a movie or story. He’s said, in effect, “I couldn’t come up with a good way to explain or end this situation so I’ll write it away in one sentence.” It’s utterly despicable and just another indication of how dumb he thinks we are.

That the movie did a little better than breaking even is suggestive that he guessed wrong. You can see that the gross went down every weekend after its open, which was buoyed by the fact that there wasn’t much else to go see. If my revelation of the ending made you not want to go rent it, then you are welcome for my saving you $3.99 in rental fees.

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