After a misunderstanding aboard an airplane that escalates out of control, the mild-mannered Dave Buznik is ordered by Judge Daniels to attend anger management sessions run by Doctor Buddy Rydell, which are filled with highly eccentric and volatile men and women. Buddy's unorthodox approach to therapy is confrontational and abrasive and Dave is bewildered by it. Then, after yet another mishap, Judge Daniels orders Dave to step up his therapy or wind up in jail. So, Buddy moves in with Dave to help him battle his inner demons. Buddy himself has no inner demons since he acts out at every opportunity and that includes making lewd comments about Dave's girlfriend Linda and goading Dave into confronting every slight, past or present, head-on. But Buddy finally goes too far and Dave must decide whether to crawl back into his shell or stand up for himself. Could it be that Buddy's confounding and contradictory treatment is just what the doctor ordered?
This psych-out comedy threatens a high-concept peak: Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson nose to nose. Dave Buznik (Mr. Sandler), a mild-mannered ad executive — a man so soft-spoken he occasionally speaks as if he burned the roof of his mouth — is caught in the middle of a huge altercation and misunderstanding on an airplane. He's sentenced to anger management training, ordered by a judge to seek treatment from Dr. Buddy Rydell (Mr. Nicholson). After a few other mishaps, the court orders Rydell to move in with Dave. Rydell's manner — full of smooth, rational explanations that bubble into hostile eruptions of id in numbing alternation — is so disruptive that he seems as much like a doctor as Dr. Bombay from the old "Bewitched" series. He seems to be announcing to the world that he's a charlatan, though what is eventually announced is that the halfhearted "Anger Management" isn't much of a movie, despite a few awe-inspiring touches of absurdity in David Dorfman's script. — Elvis Mitchell
2003-04-11 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of Anger Management