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The Angriest Man in Brooklyn Blu-ray Review

angriest-man-in-brooklyn-bluray-coverU.S. Release

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The Film

[Rating:3/5]

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Robin Williams has a cinematic resume that would be more than enough for several actors (Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting, Awakenings, Patch Adams). So here is, once again, Mr. Williams, this time taking on one of his least likeable big screen personae.

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The premise of this film is that Henry Altmann (Williams) was a once-happy attorney with a family but two years after Henry’s son Peter has died, he is now a super curmudgeon who is about to receive some very bad news. Henry think that he has reached a life nadir when his BMW is hit by a taxicab but his life will change when he visits Dr. Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) a young internist who has significant personal issues herself like pill-popping and having boiler room sex with her married senior partner. After being brow-beaten by Henry, Dr. Gill informs him that his headaches are due to a brain aneurysm that gives him “ninety minutes to live.” Thus begins a peregrination through a life lived in a very brief space of time.

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Henry begins a serious self reexamination, as Aaron, Henry’s dwarf brother (Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage), inserts himself into the ongoing fray. We meet the rest of Henry’s dysfunctional family. Henry’s wife Bette (Melissa Leo) has given up on him. Son Tommy (Hamish Linklater) has abandoned a law career to work in a dance studio. Henry’s advances to Bette are rejected and when he tries to throw himself a “going away party” only his loner classmate Bix Field (Richard Kind) shows up to remind him that Henry stole his high school sweetheart. As Dr. Gill launches a race-against-time search for Henry to get him treated,  we get an explosive apology for his life, videoed by a homeless man, and his contemplation of suicide.

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In the vein of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, director Robinson gives us the potential of a moving family film. However, the odd mix of ribald comedy and serious drama just never gels. Having the occasional narration by Williams and Kunis inserted into this film simply does not help matters either. Nor does a cast with high profile cameos by James Earl Jones as a stuttering electronics shop owner, Bob Dishy as neighbor Frank or Broadway star Sutton Foster as Tommy’s love interest, Adela.

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In spite of decent visual and sound production values, we don’t get anything near Robinson’s Sneakers or Field of Dreams. Even with the star power of Robin Williams and Mila Kunis, we get mostly “sound and fury signifying nothing” by way of a Daniel Taplitz script that is rife with seemingly endless verbal tirades and streams of dialog punctuated with F-bombs. For a film that is supposed to draw us toward its central character and, in spite of his crusty personality, actually care what happens to him, we are instead, mostly rebuffed and repelled.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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Being a new release and digitally shot with high-resolution cameras on location in New York and Los Angeles, this picture is crisp with excellent detail and colors. John Bailey’s cinematography certainly gives us a good sense of place and of the little action that actually occurs.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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This dialogue-driven film gets excellent voice reproduction. The surround channel version is spacious and delivers a nice account of Mateo Messina’s quirky score, while the two-channel alternative is also quite good.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1.5/5]

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There are two extras:

  • “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn: Behind the Rage” (English Dolby Digital Stereo 48k/16b) (6:17)
  • Gag Reel: Outakes (English Dolby Digital Stereo 48k/16b) (2:51)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

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The Angriest Man in Brooklyn is a disappointing effort, given the promise of the cast and director that was assembled.  Throughout its mercifully brief 84-minute running time, I kept waiting for this film to turn the corner and make me want to engage with its characters.  Unfortunately, that moment never happened. Curious viewers who might want to see a much better made version of this 90-minutes-to-live premise should check out Assi Dayan’s well-received 1997 Israeli film, Mar Baum.

Additional Screen Captures

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