Anger Management

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Bob Smithouser

Movie Review

Remember those kids who’d trap a bee and a wasp in a mayonnaise jar just to watch them go at it? They’re the target audience for Anger Management (PG-13), a hostile comedy starring combustible cinematic sociopaths Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler. Sandler plays Dave, an unassertive businessman unfairly condemned to therapy. Nicholson is Dr. Buddy Rydell, the court-appointed anger management guru who invades Dave’s life. But it’s parents who trust the MPAA rating who’ll need an encounter group after the credits roll.

In addition to being obsessed with penis size, this vulgar film jokes about incest, masturbation, homosexuality, oral sex, sodomy, pornography, transsexual prostitution and bestiality. There are public displays of affection between lesbians. And in another scene, Dave takes revenge on a childhood bully (now a Buddhist monk) by making sexual remarks about the man’s mentally ill sister.

While they pale by comparison, there are other problems with this movie. It approves of premarital sex and suggests that no measures—including mental cruelty—are too extreme if they accomplish a worthy goal. Profanity and anatomical slang also push the boundaries of the PG-13. In the process, positive messages about self-control and romantic fidelity get lost.

Director Peter Segal noted, “The combo of the concept and the casting is a dream come true. … Everyone [I talk to] says the same thing: ‘I’m there.’” It is an intriguing pairing, but the results are maddening. Curious teens should opt out of Anger Management.

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Bob Smithouser