Summary : Manipulative and schmaltzy.
Manipulative and schmaltzy are nothing new in a Robin Williams dramedy — the worst offenders being Bicentennial Man and Patch Adams. With Williams on somewhat of a comedic rebound in his now-canceled CBS sitcom The Crazy Ones, it was looking like he had found his footing again. Unfortunately, under the direction of Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams, Sneakers) making his return to the director’s chair after a 12-year hiatus, all Williams does is flounder around in his typical rants filled with vulgarity as he portrays The Angriest Man in Brooklyn; a remake of Assi Dayan’s 1997 Israeli film, The 92 Minutes of Mr. Baum.
Henry Altmann (Williams) is a very angry man. He hates everything, which is made clear in an early voiceover, and even more so by getting racist after a cab driver hits his car. Dr. Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) is having a bad day as well after her cat jumps out her fourth floor window and dies.
Altmann has come to find out some test results, but his regular doctor is on vacation with his family — another thing Sharon is pissed about as she’s having an affair with him — and Sharon now gets to give Henry the bad news that he has a brain aneurysm and gives him 90 minutes to live. Now, Henry is on a personal mission to make up for lost time and make things right with his brother Aaron (Peter Dinklage), but especially his estranged wife Bette (Melissa Leo) and son Tommy (Hamish Linklater).
Williams plays everything in hysterics along with the help of Kunis. Pretty much everyone gives their worst with Dinklage coming across as the most sympathetic character even though he’s barely in the movie. Screenwriter Daniel Taplitz has given all of the shenanigans an odd voiceover for both Henry and Sharon, but everything is spoken in third person giving a complete disconnect to what the characters are emoting.
Robinson has done better than this, not that his early work holds up. Field of Dreams may feel more manipulative now than upon its release, but at least it was filled with characters you like. Even bringing back James Earl Jones doesn’t help when he’s cast as the most offensive stutterer ever. Packed with easy punchlines and tons of vulgarity, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn isn’t even bad enough to be mad at, making this merely an overlooked blip on everyone’s radar.
Photo courtesy Lionsgate
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