|The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014)|
Reviewed by Dustin Putman
(Release Date: July 22, 2014) There is a thoughtful movie lurking within "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn," but director Phil Alden Robinson (2002's "The Sum of All Fears") and writer Daniel Taplitz (2004's "Breakin' All the Rules") undermine individual moments of sensitivity with too much over-the-top cuteness and mugging. Robin Williams (2009's "Old Dogs") is one of our most underappreciated and versatile dramatic actors, a gift that is often overlooked due to his funnyman persona. Nonetheless, he is exceptional here as Henry Altmann, a miserable attorney whose marriage to Bette (Melissa Leo) is in shambles following the tragic death of one of their grown sons and his estrangement with the other, dance academy student Tommy (Hamish Linklater). Were a car accident not enough to ruin his day, things go further downhill with the news that he is dying from an inoperable cerebral aneurysm near his brainstem. When Henry reactively berates overworked medical intern Dr. Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) over how much time he has left, she tells him ninety minutesan inaccurate number that sends him on a frantic journey through the city to settle unfinished business with his family. Aware that she has made a grave error that could ruin both of their lives, Sharon takes off after Henry in hopes that she can make things right and get him to a hospital.
Based on the 1997 Israeli film "The 92 Minutes of Mr. Baum" by Assi Dayan, "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn" stretches plausibility not only with its premise, but also its timeline. Henry makes so many pit stops within the story's supposed hour-and-a-half time frameand this isn't even taking into account his travel time between locationsthat it becomes laughable. This troubling observation notwithstanding, the picture pushes too hard to manipulate its audience in a flurry of comic relief stuck uncomfortably between the sometimes quite effective dramatic interludes. In staring death in the face, Henry cannot believe he has so little time left and is overcome with regret to the way he has pushed the people he loves most away from him. There is a moving flashback where he dances with 10-year-old Tommy (Noah Radcliffe) on a rainswept day in Manhattan, and few late interactions between Williams and an equally attuned Mila Kunis (2014's "Blood Ties") that strike a some honest, urgent notes. A narrative device in which Henry and Sharon alternately narrate the proceedings as if they are reading a book gives an additional insight into their own interpersonal struggles. Unfortunately, director Phil Alden Robinson fails to pull all the parts together, ending up with a film that is tonally and creatively messy, and filled with entirely too much shouting. In the case of "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn," less would have been much, much more.
"The Angriest Man in Brooklyn" was shot digitally, giving its 1080p transfer a clean, grain-free sheen. The film's aesthetic look lacks the texture of 35mm film, and there is at least one instance where overt background moiré very nearly creates a juddering effect (it occurs in the shot where Sharon makes a sudden U-turn in the taxi she is driving). Otherwise, this is a sharp picture with depth and pleasing fine detail. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio doesn't get a chance to show off in the same way that a modern action blockbuster might, its subtler heft coming from its rangy ambience. Dialogue and music are on point, never less than clear in the sound mix.
- The Making of "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn" (6:17, HD)
- Gag Reel (2:51, HD)
"The Angriest Man in Brooklyn" has been released on Blu-ray by Lionsgate, and there are very few complaints to be had about its high-def treatment. Special features are pretty frivolous, however, leaving the film to defend itself. The fine performances from Robin Williams and Mila Kunis almost save the day, and for fans of these actors it might be worth checking out. It is just too bad there wasn't more focus in its trip to the screen. A rewrite would have no doubt done wonders for this spotty, life-affirmingbut too frequently unctuousdramedy.