By Lindsay Utz & Mark Betancourt
PHOTO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA PICTURES
Jack Nicholson is in charge of Adam Sandler's anger management program in the new film "Anger Management."
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday April 10, 2003
Betancourt: During the movie, I kept trying to come up with a way to explain why Utz and I were the only people in the theater not laughing. At the end, we looked behind us at the sea of faces. The shine of the end credits lit up their lingering smiles and the late chuckles faded as a happy, opiate darkness descended on them all. Utz and I were catatonic. "Oh Jesus," we said, "thank God it's over."
Utz: Best line in the movie: "I think Eskimos are smug."
Betancourt: Really. That is by far the best line in the movie. The rest Ě well, the rest is crap. Here's the story: There's this relatively nice guy, Dave, played by Adam Sandler. (Picture Adam Sandler in any of his roles acting the exact same way he always does, that's him.) Strangers keep making him angry. He gets arrested, then sentenced to undergo an anger management program he obviously doesn't deserve. He's demure. This is supposed to be funny, I guess. People think he's angry, but he's not. Anyway, the counselor in charge of managing his anger is a repulsive Jack Nicholson who keeps messing up Dave's life a la "What About Bob?"
Utz: Fucking Nicholson. This guy, supposedly an "anger doctor," is revealed to be nothing more than some sick old pervert in a scene where he pays a transsexual sitting next to Dave in the back seat of his Range Rover ¸ an exercise of some sort to see if Dave can maintain control over his alleged homophobia. Ě And somehow this has to do with his anger? Meanwhile, Doctor Anger stares excitedly through his rearview mirror at the two men in the back seat, every now and then erupting into some monologue about Eskimos.
Betancourt: Yeah, most of the plot is just a way of getting in penises (references to them, not actual penises ¸ that would be too avant garde) and gayness. (Just the idea of homosexuality, apparently, is funny; no more wit or cleverness is necessary to amuse the American public ¸ "Will and Grace" being the prime example.) And farting. There's one scene where Jack Nicholson farts and that, folks, is literally the joke. Except the film isn't that gross or offensive, so it doesn't have that going for it, for those of you who like that sort of thing. Ha ha, Jack Nicholson farted.
Utz: Or ha ha, he took off his underpants and tried to spoon Sandler. While you may think it's funny, buddy, it's not. These two actors have no chemistry. It's as if whoever wrote this film is holding a gun to their heads and saying, "Just read the goddamn line." Nicholson's thinking, "Geez, this Sandler fellow is a real chump, a real loser," and Sandler's thinking, "This Nicholson guy is a real pervert." The two can't wait to escape the set, so they do their jobs, read their lines and lose their temper now and then. And while these short outbursts of anger may seem to be a part of the script, they're not. It is frustration in a moment when they realize the utter stupidity of the movies they make and the supreme stupidity of those who watch them.
Utz: One of those rare moments of comedy is when Heather Graham strips down into her Red Sox bra-and-panty set and starts shrieking something about men not wanting her because she's too fat. Then she loses it, starts stuffing brownies in her mouth, and Sandler looks at her with another one of those I-can't-believe-how-stupid-this-movie-is looks. And in that moment, I laugh, because for once, Sandler and I are on the same page.
Betancourt: Okay, so this movie isn't total crap. I mean, it is. Let me try to explain. It's kind of like Comedy Corner. It's not always funny, but you laugh because you're supposed to and because they're trying to make you laugh. That's what it's like. The people in the theater know they're at a comedy, so they laugh by sheer power of suggestion. I think somewhere along the way, filmmakers realized this phenomenon and stopped trying. But I think likening this film to a completely improvised comedy routine (on a particularly "off" night for the talent) is a pretty accurate description of its mediocrity.
Utz: Betancourt and I hated this movie.
Betancourt: But you'll probably love it.