The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
Written by Daniel Taplitz
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
When one thinks of comedy, one name always comes to mind. He is a man of supreme funny-man power, impeccable timing, and an almost unlimited supply of improvised genius: Robin Williams. Over the course of four decades, Williams has delighted audiences both young and old, from his wacky comedies and stand-up routines to his occasional voice-over work in animation. Though known mostly for his comedy, he is also a very talented dramatic actor. He is a man who continually surprises. Unfortunately, however, with his latest cinematic effort, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, it seems he may have run out of steam and this is unfortunate because the subject matter of this film is full of true potential.
Williams is Henry Altmann, a bitter man in his 60s, angry at everything and everyone around him. His family is in ruins and his general disgust for life leads him into very precarious situations. During a medical examination, substitute physician Dr. Sharon Gil (Mila Kunis) tells him he has a brain aneurysm. Upon hearing this, Henry explodes with anger and demands Dr. Gil tell him how much time he has left. Not having a definite answer and panicking under Henry’s rage, she blurts out “90 minutes.” Henry then takes off and attempts to right all of his wrongs. Going from family members to friends, Henry’s 90-minute quest to rectify his past mistakes makes for quite a journey. However, this film feels all too familiar.
The whole midlife crisis plot has been done many times before. Williams is even guilty of playing a guy down on his luck and trying his best to make things right, in the far superior Mrs. Doubtfire. In The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Williams doesn’t put on a dress, he just curses at the world and gets into verbal and physical altercations. With his exaggerated diagnosis, Henry crisscrosses New York City, bumping heads with random people and trying to clean up the messes he’s made.
Williams is a treasure but his performance in this film is severely lacking. Due to a lackluster script and a tired plot, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn means well but sadly falls short. Kunis gives a decent performance as Altmann’s temporary doctor and her comic chops actually shine through occasionally. Peter Dinklage also manages to give a strong performance as Henry’s more levelheaded brother. He is the perfect straight man to Williams’ hyperactivity and proves to be rather funny. The brilliant Melissa Leo is painfully underused here as Henry’s estranged wife and comedy fans are in for an added treat with Louis C.K. making an appearance in a ridiculous yet amusing supporting role.
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn has been done before. There is nothing new here. Williams basically phoned this in and it’s sad because the man has turned in brilliant performances in the past. There are more than a few cringe-worthy moments in this film and it’s reminiscent of 2006’s worse RV, another disaster. Sometimes, it seems Williams will take any project that comes his way. Let’s only hope he just does another big stand-up comedy special. Or if he feels so inclined, to join forces with a director and screenwriter who know what they’re doing.
– Randall J. Unger