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Anger Management


Genre: Romantic comedy

Opens: April 11

The Pitch: "Assistant executive" Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) is a passive pushover wrongly accused of assaulting a flight attendant and sentenced to a stint in an anger management support group led by Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), who appears to need a dose of his own medicine.

Casting: Marisa Tomei is wasted in the role of Buznik's long-suffering girlfriend, whose sole purpose is to root for her man. Woody Harrelson's turn as a German trannie is just plain disturbing.

Fashion statement: Heather Graham, who makes a cameo as a seductive bar patron, reveals a Red Sox bra beneath her scarlet party dress. Jack Nicholson dons a jaunty beret.

Product placement: Buznik and his romantic rival (Allen Covert) take a whiz in a bathroom plastered with ESPN Zone signs. An Us magazine is prominently placed on a living room floor. There's a whole senseless exchange over a bowl of Alpha-Bits cereal.

Hit single: "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story takes on a whole new meaning.

Money shots: Buznik gives a monk a saffron wedgie when he takes revenge on a former childhood bully who's since joined a monastery.

Penis envy: Dr. Rydell's unorthodox treatment includes a demand that Buznik remove his clothes. "Are you a homophobe?" the doctor asks. "No, I'm a pulling-my-penis-out-in-front-of-you-aphobe," Buznik replies. When Buznik is introduced to the support group, hyper-sensitive member Chuck (John Turturro) challenges Buznik: "Do you think you're better than me because you've got both your nuts?"

Inside jokes: Nicholson made news in 1994 for a nasty bit of road rage when he smashed out the windows of an automobile with a golf club. Tennis ace John McEnroe and college basketball coach Bobby Knight are other famously angry men who make cameos.

Au courant: On a flight to St. Louis, Buznik is admonished by a flight attendant for becoming impatient after several requests for a movie headset have gone unheeded. "This is a very difficult time for our country," she tells him. "I don't know where patriotism ties in with a headset," Buznik replies.

The bottom line: The setup is laugh-out-loud funny, the second act bottom-feeds on lowbrow laughs and the denouement is predictably feel-good. But Nicholson has a devilishly good time and Punch-Drunk Love fans will appreciate Sandler's endearingly low-key everyman.

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