In Management, Sandler plays the unhealthily apathetic Dave Buznik, a man whose unresolved childhood confrontations and indecisive behaviors have left him the target of his abusive bosss incessant scapegoating, and have severely impeded the progress of his relationship with Linda, a kindhearted poet.
Daves infallible passivity comes to a head when a misunderstanding with a flight attendant lands him in court, where he is sentenced to 20 hours of anger management therapy with the unorthodox psychologist Buddy Rydell (played by Jack Nicholson). Dave approaches his anger management treatment with cynicism, and his un-remedied inability to express his anger soon lands him in more trouble and with an extended commitment to Dr. Rydells questionable full immersion tactics.
Rydells full immersion session begins when he moves into Daves apartment and proceeds to spend every waking moment with a visibly embarrassed Dave. Between breaking plates, yelling and forcing Dave to use the phrase exploding in my pants during an experimental bar pick-up, Rydells unconventional therapy begins to have a positive impact on his patients sedate facade. The rest, as they say, is history.
Though Sandler appears more laid-back and slightly more serious than he has in previous films (not including the 2002 drama Punch Drunk Love), it is Nicholson, unsurprisingly, who carries Management. His facial expressions and delivery are unexpectedly hilarious, even during seemingly banal lines such as, Your temper is the one thing you cant get rid of by losing it. The entire movie is saturated with Nicholsons theatrical genius.
Marisa Tomei, who plays the sweet and patient Linda, is overqualified for the part. With her short but impressive résumé (including My Cousin Vinny and In the Bedroom), she seems somewhat out of place among the rest of the conventionally comedic cast. Her underdeveloped character, along with a slew of ineffective cameos (only those appearances by Bobby Knight and John McEnroe elicited laughter from the audience), is one of the primary reasons why Management falls short of the mark.
Furthermore, the film relies too heavily upon cliché, been-there-done-that material (Dave proposes to Linda using the scoreboard at a Yankees game). The pairs romance is so inundated with sentimentality that it overshadows several darker, more comical motifs.
John Turturro, as Daves group therapy anger ally, is severely underused; those who have seen The Big Lebowski know that Turturro, though sometimes frightening, is capable of handling comedy with curious finesse.
With the promising combination of the audience-beloved Sandler and the accomplished Nicholson, one would expect that Management would deliver far more laughs than it actually does. Seeing the two actors sing the West Side Story ballad I Feel Pretty is one duet that viewers will appreciate, but there are ultimately too few laughs in Anger Management to sustain any substantial audience appreciation.