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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Anger Management is a 2003 comedy in which Jack Nicholson plays a therapist who uses unusual methods to treat his unwilling subject, played by Adam Sandler. This movie is extremely raunchy for a PG-13, with constant jokes about penis size, plus jokes about lesbian porn stars who enjoy three-way sex, a drag queen prostitute, a mentally ill girl, masturbation, premature ejaculation, flatulence, and prison rape. It has comic violence --tasing, fistfights, bar fights. Characters drink and smoke. A character claims to be from a town in Germany called "Lickin Zee Dickin." There's frequent profanity, including "f--k."
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What's the story?
In ANGER MANAGEMENT, Dave (Adam Sandler), a deeply repressed executive assistant who designs clothing for overweight cats, is sentenced to anger management after a misunderstanding on an airplane and ends up in Dr. Rydell's (Jack Nicholson) therapy group. After another misunderstanding, he's sentenced to a full-time program that has the decidedly un-repressed Rydell moving in with him, going to work with him, and taking him on a road trip to Boston. Sparks fly as the two opposites try to deal with the uncomfortable arrangement. Rydell forces Dave to confront a childhood bully and pick up a pretty girl. He even persuades Dave to break up with his loyal girlfriend, Linda (Marisa Tomei). All of this is intended to get Dave to acknowledge his real feelings, leading to the inevitable "I learned so much from you!" conclusion.
Is it any good?
Just as mismatched as Anger Management's odd couple are the film's two competing scripts. The original script is credited to first-timer David Dorfman. Contributed by producer-star Adam Sandler, the second "script" has many pre-adolescent jokes about body parts and their functions and a lot of references to '80s pop culture. The result is an uneven blend of pretty low humor and REALLY low humor on the theme of utter humiliation. It's only barely saved by the sheer pleasure of watching Jack Nicholson.
Anger Management is a variation on every odd couple movie ever made, but especially Analyze This, which also had a comedian playing the straight man and a distinguished actor going wild. Adam Sandler plays his standard character. Yet while Nicholson plays his well-known "guy who just might do anything at any moment," he manages to toss in a few surprises.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how some comedic actors have a recognizable "brand" of comedy, a style that recurs in several of their movies. What is Adam Sandler's style, and what are the ways in which Anger Management is an example? Who are some other actors with a familiar comedic style seen across many of their movies?
How is the casting of Jack Nicholson as the therapist an unexpected role for those familiar with the types of characters Nicholson is known for playing?
How did the movie use stereotyping for the sake of humor? What groups were stereotyped? Is it all part of the obnoxious humor that is Sandler's style, or does it mine lazy humor out of groups that have often been easy targets of ridicule by society at large?
- In theaters: April 11, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: September 16, 2003
- Cast: Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei
- Director: Peter Segal
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude sexual content and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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