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The Angriest Man In Brooklyn

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.

PHOTO BY JOJO WHILDEN - COURTESY OF LIONSGATE

PHOTO BY JOJO WHILDEN – COURTESY OF LIONSGATE

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.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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