Robin Williams stars as Henry Altmann in The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. The title is self-explanatory and pretty much aptly describes Henry who we will learn angrily dislikes almost every thing there is in life. As the film begins we have a lovely tranquil scene of a man with his wife and two small boys enjoying a day in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. It is September, 1989. The scene ends with Henry saying I am so happy.
Flash forward 25 years to 2014. An older and far from happy Henry sits in his car, stuck in a traffic jam at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. He is fuming. We get a voice over spoken by Mr. Williams (as Henry) who gets even angrier when a small car pulls up next to him.
Henry tell us he’s adding small cars with subwoofers to his already growing list of things he hates. He says he’s adding those two to his short list which already includes:
Dog crap, car alarms, indecipherable parking signs, double baby strollers, ass-crack fashion, men using cologne, bubble gum, bicycles, hamsters, garbage trucks, neighbors, metal hangers, tv remotes, greeting cards, flip-flops, flyers for cheap haircuts, fat people, pigeons, the weather channel, the smell of urine, new mothers, credit card offers, blocked phone numbers, big umbrellas, the F train, JFK, the BQE, ATM service fees, 99 cent stores, radio personalities, networking, Starbucks, the Knicks, the Knicks, THE KNICKS!, and God.
Quite a list.
All done as a standard Robin Williams’ motormouth rant of a voice over while we watch him fume. Anyway the traffic light changes, he starts to go, and his car is immediately crashed into by a taxi driven by a guy from ‘Uzbek’. Which brings on another rant which is followed by a death threat from the guy from Uzbekistan which was simple, direct, uncluttered with excessive verbiage, and directly on point.
As in You’re dead!
So poor Henry’s day is already a disaster and it has barely begun. He’s on his way to an appointment with his Dr. Fielding played by Louis CK. Only the doctor has decided he wanted to extend his weekend so he had his patients covered by Dr. Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis). And guess what, she’s having a bad day too. The last thing she needs is a motormouth madman yelling at her.
She’s the doctor and she has to deliver some bad news. You see Henry has a brain aneurysm and he could die at any time. But Henry refuses to leave the office without a number. Grasping at straws, and fuming herself, Dr. Gill says 90. Henry says 90 what? Without batting an eye she says, 90 minutes.
And there’s your set up.
Written by Daniel Taplitz and directed by Phil Alden Robinson, who, coincidentally directed Field of Dreams twenty-five years ago in 1989, which was followed by Sneakers in 1992. His last film prior to this one was The Sum of All Fears, from the Tom Clancy novel in 2002. That’s 12 years ago. So once upon a time Phil was an A-List Director.
This film is okay and falls somewhere in the middle of the Hollywood Bermuda triangle of Comedy, drama, and Redemption. Which means it has all of the above. None of which is especially well done. There’s a deep and experienced cast. Beside Mr. Williams and Mila Kunis, we have Louis CK, Richard Kind, Melissa Leo, Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones, Hamish Linklater, and James Earl Jones as a stuttering old man running a Ma and Pa electronics store. Bob Dishy is on hand too.
The humor pendulum swings between comedy and absurdist comedy. Williams can rant and rave and motor his way through a lengthy diatribe with the best of them. In this film, believing he has only 90 minutes to live – he wants to patch things up with his wife (Leo), make peace with his son (Linklater), and do what’s right with his younger brother( Dinklage). Unfortunately asking Williams to attempt to be a nice guy when his character stands so well on a dual platform of choice scumbaggery and jerkdom of the worst order, means we have to hate him when he’s lambasting whoever stands before him, and then root for him as he tries desperately to become a nice guy.
Brother, that’s no easy task.
So you won’t quite buy into his redemption. Dr. Sharon Gill has a bunch of problems herself, with Dr. Fielding heading the list plus she’s just lost her cat too. After giving Henry the real bad news, then the faux bad news, she has second thoughts and sets out to correct the situation. Of course this leads to even more absurdist comedy, some of which works.
I think I can count the number of times I laughed out load on one hand. but the film does intrigue you for a while. I think the story was just paper-thin – angry man learns he’s going to die and sets out to make things right with his family. The key word of course is angry.
The film was released on May 23rd, and I saw it via Amazon Instant at ($6.99 for a 24 hour rental). I don’t know where, if any theaters you can see this.
But there’s probably a reason why it is available on Amazon Instant on the day it is released. Likely with all the summer blockbusters that have opened recently, the film would have a tough struggle at the box-office.
As for the poster, if this is about the angriest man in Brooklyn why does the poster display Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Downtown Business District?
I’ll sum up by saying the film has its moments, but not enough of them to make me call it anything other average film fare, and that, only just barely. Accordingly, my rating is just a middle of the road three-point zero. By the way, the tagline on the movie poster was funny.
Every one has a bad day. Henry has one every day.
Have a look at the trailer: