Making the Grades
Once again, Adam Sandler plays a benign, gentle soul caught up in a world full of chaos and idiots -- in this case a psychotic anger management coach. It's a Sandler storyline we've seen countless times before, only the names and faces have been changed.
Timid and non-confrontational, David Buznik (Sandler) is a cat-clothing designer for overweight felines. For years, his boss (Kurt Fuller) has stolen credit for the creation of the ?Husky? clothing line. Finally the cubicle worker, who is hoping for a promotion, gets a chance to attend a presentation in another city. But a misunderstanding during the airline journey rouses the ire of a flight attendant and the Air Marshall who takes down the self-effacing traveler with a tazer. David is sent before Judge Daniels (Lynne Thigpen) and sentenced to attend an anger management course run by Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson). However, the group session, full of off-the-wall class members, is a bit overwhelming for the hesitant groupie who initially refuses to get involved.
Pairing David with an explosive anger ally named Chuck (John Turturro), Dr. Rydell ensures the tentative client it's a healthy part of the program until the two partners get caught up in a barroom brawl. The unlucky mishap sends David back to court. To help him avoid time in the state pen, Rydell offers to intensify his patient's treatment routine by moving into his apartment, sharing his bed and making bawdy comments about his girlfriend, Linda (Marisa Tomei). He goads the mild-mannered office worker incessantly and pushes David into one uncomfortable and compromising situation after another. It's a rehabilitation regime that borders on insanity and makes self-help options look increasingly appealing.
Unfortunately, nothing else about the film is appealing at all. Someone had to do some smooth talking or throw a real good tantrum to get this previously R-rated film squeezed into a PG-13 classification. While outright nudity may be missing, there is enough other sexual content stuffed into this script for at least a dozen films. A lesbian couple makes out during a group session while the rest of the male class members look on, hooting either their approval or aversion. Later, the girls are all over each other in a public restaurant. A flood of profanities including a sexual expletive and hand gesture along with male anatomy discussions, depictions of bestiality, oral sex references, cross-dressing prostitutes and sick pick-up lines are all examples of the film's crude humor.
Gags involving air rage and gun use, which might have been comical in an early time (though I can't think when that would be), are totally unfunny considering the increase of these real life outbursts. Religious figures, war vets, racial groups, sports celebrities and politicians all take their turn at being the brunt of this movie's jokes.
While temper taming is a much-needed skill in society, this Anger Management session will leave most parents feeling hot under the collar.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Anger Management.
What is the difference between being confident in defending yourself and your position, and resorting to rude and aggressive behavior? What are appropriate reactions to the daily hassles that affect everyone? How can a persons response escalate or moderate a situation?
In order to be funny, even comedy must have an element of reality to it. How would Rydells therapy be viewed in the real world? Is it likely he would still have a valid license? Did he face any consequences for his bizarre behavior? What about the tidy ending to the film? Is the explanation at all feasible?
Home Video Viewing Alternatives
Here are some ideas for home video titles that are related to Anger Management.
Family life offers plenty of material for comedic movies. A father has to deal with an outrageous wedding planner who takes over his life in Father of the Bride and the sequel Father of the Bride II. Robin Williams dresses up as a woman to get a job as his childrens nanny in Mrs. Doubtfire and Nicholas Cage gets a surprise taste of parental duties in The Family Man.