Question: what is crazier than the usual insanity of an Adam Sandler movie? Answer: an insane Adam Sandler movie with Jack “Hereeeee’s Johnny” Nicholson. The plot of Sandler’s latest comedy focuses on the misadventures of the misunderstood Dave Buznik. After “assaulting” an airline attendant, the meek Dave is sentenced to an anger management course. The problem, of course, is the fact that a) Dave really didn’t do anything and b) his real problem lies in the bizarre methods of his anger management counselor, Buddy Rydell (Nicholson).
This is an Adam Sandler movie with an intriguing plot. Although I won’t divulge too many details, let’s say that Buddy’s mind games begin to take a toll on poor Dave. The line between mind games and reality is blurred to such a point that I started to question Buddy’s motives. Is he insane? Is he telling the truth?
Obviously in a comedy like this, you know a happy ending is on the way – but how will it be achieved, and at what cost? A friend suggested to me that this was Nicholson’s influence on the film. Not many men can achieve the diabolical look of manic glee with just a smile as Nicholson can. I swear, with his Einstein ‘do and goatish beard, he could have passed as Satan!
Sandler, meanwhile, continues to impress me. When he doesn’t use worn, gross-out gags, he comes off as a decent actor rather than just a comedian. Sure, his strained outbreaks are always worth a laugh, but he actually seems to try to mix more humor into the plot, rather than tell flat-out toilet jokes. He’ll never be Tom Hanks, but he certainly has come a long way since “Little Nicky” (shudder).
The problem is that the movie seems to jump a little bit. When the plot skips around between road trips, something seems amiss.
The supporting cast is a bright spot in the movie. Look for cameos by tennis great John McEnroe, controversial college coach Bobby Knight and a bizarre appearance by Heather Graham. Nothing against Graham, but she did two things wrong. First off, she looked like something from “The Exorcist” in the “brownie-eating scene” and, second of all, she wore Boston Red Sox undergarments.
This answers one of my other personal riddles: what can be worse than Heather Graham’s acting? Answer: Heather Graham’s bad acting while wearing a Boston Red Sox bikini. I take offense, not only as a movie fan, but also as a Yankee fan.
On a sadder note, this marks the last appearance by Lynne Thigpen. Known for her role in the children’s show “Carmen Sandiego,” the former “Chief” died not long after shooting wrapped on this film. To her credit, Thigpen’s final performance is as steady as always. Lynne Thigpen, I salute you.
If you’re looking for more celebrity stop-ins, look no further than the Yankee Stadium scene (fans of the team will be thrilled no doubt). Rudy Guiliani makes a surprising appearance at Yankee Stadium (a well-shot sequence). No offense Rudy, but leave the acting to the professionals. Playing off actual questions of his mental stability, Yankees ace Roger Clemens chants one of Buddy’s peace-promoting slogans to calm his nerves. Following in the footsteps of other older celebrities kicking the snot out of Adam Sandler on celluloid, opera singer Robert Merrill is given the opportunity to clothesline Dave, while Derek Jeter tries to console his teammates.
All in all, this is a surprisingly decent movie. It has a stimulating plot with a lot of details you will most likely miss as the story unwinds. Sandler and Nicholson have good chemistry on screen and while
Oscar winner Marisa Tomei is essentially wasted in this movie, all other members of the cast fit in nicely. If you’re angry with my decision, you can always sign up for therapy. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. If your counselor looks like Jack Nicholson – run.