Sandler, funny again in “Management”

Zack Sparks

GRADE: A-

In one rather memorable scene of “Anger Management,” Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson) tells Dave (Adam Sandler) to stop the car he’s driving. You see, Dave has anger problems, and the way to alleviate them, says Rydell, is with the music of Bernstein and Sondheim.

So there they are, Jack Nicholson with his freaky eyebrows and Adam Sandler with his blank stare, sitting in the middle of New York traffic, trading off lines of “I Feel Pretty” from “West Side Story,” as angry motorists drive by screaming obscenities at them.

This is how Adam Sandler’s comedy works.

There’s a certain element of “No way, that could never happen,” that everyone in the audience is thinking. But at the same time, the other side of your brain fires back, “Sure it could.”

I’m very glad to report that, with “Anger Management,” Sandler decided to be funny again. I really don’t know what “Little Nicky” was, and “Mr. Deeds” was just a little bit too dumb to really reach the upper strata of Sandler classics, such as “Happy Gilmore” and “The Waterboy” – the latter of which I consider to be his best movie. But “Anger Management” fits in nicely and stands as one of his best movies.

Dave is wrongly sentenced to serve out time in an anger management program for allegedly assaulting a flight attendant and getting into a bar fight that wasn’t exactly his fault.

His therapist, Dr. Rydell, moves in with him as part of his intensive anger management program. Dave then has to keep his life straight, no matter what Dr. Rydell does to try to destroy it.

I was almost scared to see this movie. I was convinced that Nicholson would totally take it over. After all, the man is the greatest actor that ever walked the earth – at least in my opinion.

And Sandler, despite recently gaining some credit for his uncharacteristic turn in “Punch Drunk Love,” exists in his movies to make people laugh.

But Nicholson manages to be absolutely hilarious while leaving room for Sandler to do his thing. The two play very nicely off of each other, and each of their strengths complements the other’s weaknesses.

The jokes, situations and adventures that Rydell forces Dave into are hilarious. For instance, Rydell forces Dave to confront his old grade school nemesis, now a monk.

There are also interesting and funny cameos that really fill out the rest of the flick. When Dave first enters Rydell’s building, he has a confrontation with ever-infuriated Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight.

“Anger Management” is Sandler returning to the glory of his past movies and reclaiming his spot as our nation’s foremost supplier of stupid humor and fart jokes that are actually funny. And God bless him for it. I was really getting tired of movies like “Bubble Boy.”

Reach Zack Sparks at [email protected]