Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 101 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean…
We all have it; we just all have different ways of expressing it. Some are hair-trigger powder kegs who’ll be off like a frog in a sock at the merest provocation – you know the type, you see them on the road everyday. Others are fairly normal – the odd blow up, but generally quite level-headed. Then there are those who are, on the surface, perfect studies in control, whilst just below the surface rages a simmering yet unnaturally stifled hotbed of repressed rage, just waiting for that particular moment when it will all come bursting forth in a frightening, demonic frenzy. With the provocation he's given, Dave Buznik (Sandler) fits quite snugly in this latter category.
Who does number two work for?
An executive assistant for a pet products company, he’s the typical innocuous, yet obviously talented, seeming no-hoper. With a spine made of some sort of gelatinous substance, he’s been overlooked for promotion again and again, is denigrated by most all around him other than his incredibly supportive girlfriend, Linda (Marisa Tomei), and does absolutely nothing to counter it – except for getting more and more internally pissed off. It’s upon a business flight to St. Louis that things go rather pear-shaped for Dave, when a simple request for a headset escalates to an arrest by an air marshal for assaulting a flight attendant, after which he’s sentenced to 20 hours in anger management therapy, and lo and behold it’s with the very same unusual and rather hirsute gentleman he was sat next to on that fateful flight – one Dr Buddy Rydell (Nicholson).
"Temper’s the one thing you can’t get rid of by losing it."
Things soon escalate, involving anger-allies, a bar room and a thing with a cocktail waitress, leading to Dave being sentenced to 30 days of intense anger therapy –
Ooh! What a big, fuzzy teddy bear!
which equates to being saddled with Rydell as a live-in fury-friend, the alternative being a year in the big house. Cue road trips, meet-ups with monastic grade school bullies and a play by the increasingly maddening Buddy for Linda, just for starters, and things don’t look too good for Dave keeping his cool in a series of situations that become more and more preposterous as every minute ticks by. After all, there’s only so much a supposedly calming chant of “goosfraba” can actually counter.
How best to sum up Anger Management? Basically it’s a typical Adam Sandler flick, but one featuring Jack Nicholson. Sandler delivers his usual schmucky shtick, he just has somebody more known to bounce off. This isn’t to say some of the usual crew aren’t along for the ride, for most notably John Turturro and Luis Guzman show up as fellow anger mis-managers. Add in the odd amusing cameo from the likes of Harry Dean Stanton, Woody Harrelson, Heather Graham, John McEnroe and even former New York mayor Giuliani and you still have an atypical Sandler film – which, despite an appallingly schmaltzy and rather predictable ending, will be enough to satiate any fan of the man from his previous outings. It is, however, nice to see Jack obviously relishing the opportunity to whoop it up a lot, possibly enjoying letting loose after his rather restrained outing in About Schmidt.
One mother of a curling wand...
I’m calm, I’m centred, I’m focussed – and so is this transfer, another superb effort from the mob at the Sony DVD Center. Everything about the 16:9-enhanced, 2.35:1 image is basically as good as it gets, save for an ever so slightly clunky layer change. Why get all hot and bothered trying to come up with more to say?
Whaddya mean it was OUT?
A Dolby Digital 5.1 mix does the job every soundtrack to a comedy should do – sending everything to the relevant speakers with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of clarity. Despite a lack of amazing sonic twists and turns there’s absolutely nothing to get riled about, unless of course you don’t like the music from the likes of Blondie, Jane’s Addiction, the Rolling Stones, Cream and Filter, or indeed the rest of the soundtrack – grabs from West Side Story and all – in which case you may feel the need to vent a little. But try to control the urge – remember; goosfraba!
If you’re not of a calmer bent you may find yourself freaking out at the often seriously weird animated menus and transitions on offer here – so be warned, you may wish to spray paint your screen black beforehand. If you’re feeling brave, however, there’s a selection of bonus bits which should keep the majority of extras-lovin’ folk on quite an even keel - not ecstatic, but not erratic.
From New York mayor to just one of the crowd...
A commentary is the first thing supplied to soothe us, featuring director Peter Segal and one Adam Sandler, actor. In all it’s a fairly generic yet amiable affair, with the pair spending a remarkable amount of time commenting on various relations and friends used as extras, too much time on location info, enough time bringing our attention to various ad libs and some interesting time about the hand Jack had in proceedings. They also learn that pointing at the screen in a commentary isn’t exactly the most useful of moves.
A rather futile attempt at an interactive game follows, which is certain to have more fiery types hurling projectiles at their screens in seconds. Entitled Do You Have Anger Problems?, if you didn’t beforehand you most likely will after tackling it – a lame-brained multiple choice thing which requires a “correct” answer before being able to continue. At least the four deleted scenes which pop up next offer some respite, around ten minutes in total they are in 2.35:1, but not enhanced. There’s not much to excite, although the one with John McEnroe is fun.
Two featurettes test our patience some more, Skull Session (17:55) being the usual fluffy collection of interviews and the occasional behind the scenes peek, while My Buddy, Jack (4:07) is rather obviously about Nicholson, and those in his orbit for this film’s rather lovey-dovey impressions of working with him. A 5:37 gag reel follows, which is also fairly typical, although seeing Jack stuff up may tickle the fancies of some. Finalising things is a collection of trailers; one for Anger Management (1:26), as well as others for Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle, Daddy Day Care, I Spy and the celluloid excrement that is National Security.
It’s not the greatest collection to keep the peace, but hardly the worst either – although the inclusion of that confounded Dolby Digital City trailer yet again will have many a viewer blowing the odd gasket or five.
Superb video, perfectly suited audio and a reasonable array of extras should keep the edgiest of Sandler fans calm enough to avoid any trouble. If you don’t dig Sandler’s goofy doofus thang, though, Anger Management will be like a red rag to a bull…
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "