I love Robin Williams, but he’s almost too good an actor to
play the title role in The Angriest Man
in Brooklyn: his fury is so palpable that it’s actually hard to watch. That
might work if the film were a farce, but this modest new release doesn’t seem
to know what chord to strike: it veers wildly from madcap farce to social
satire to sentimental family drama.
Williams plays a Jewish lawyer who’s angry at the world in
general, not entirely without reason. When he encounters a stressed-out doctor
(Mila Kunis) who has the unenviable task of telling him he has a brain
aneurism, he so berates her that she impulsively tells him he only has an hour
and a half to live. That shocking news prompts him to try to put his life in
order in just 90 minutes’ time.
There are good moments here and there, and a strong cast
including Peter Dinklage, Melissa Leo, James Earl Jones, Hamish Linklater,
Richard Kind, Bob Dishy, and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. Even Broadway darling Sutton
Foster turns up in a brief, thankless role. With all that talent involved, and
Phil Alden Robinson (Field of Dreams, In
the Mood) in the director’s chair, it’s a shame this isn’t a better film.
The borough of Brooklyn provides a pleasing variety of
locations, as well. But Daniel Taplitz’s screenplay, adapted from the Israeli
film The 92 Minutes of Mr. Baum, tries
to cover too many bases. A scene in which Williams tries to purchase a video
camera from a stammering James Earl Jones is positively embarrassing. The film
as a whole unspools in less than 90 minutes, which is to its credit…but there’s
little else to praise in this forgettable comedy-drama.
The Angriest Man in
Brooklyn opens in theaters today, and is also available on Video on Demand.