Title: The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
Starring: Robin Williams, Mila Kinus, Peter Dinklage
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Length: 75 minutes
Despite an impressive cast including Robin Williams, Mila Kunis and Peter Dinklage, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn has taken a critical panning. However whilst it’s not the best film you’ll see all year, it’s far from the worst.
The set up is fairly simple. Henry Altmann (Williams) is an angry man. He has a list of people and things that make him angry and it’s running through his head all of the time. He’s easily irritated and easily angered. He wasn’t always like this, but something happened that changed his life. Now his eldest son is estranged and his wife is disinterested, at best. He’s in a rut and things are not about to get any better.
He is diagnosed with a critical brain aneurysm by Dr Sharon Gill (Kunis). But in a fit of anger at the dislikable Altmann, who is harassing her to tell him how long he has left to live, she blurts out the first answer that comes into her head: 90 minutes. It’s a terrible piece of bad judgement on her part and she could easily lose her job. Altmann knows in some sense that the diagnosis of 90 minutes to live is crazy but he knows he hasn’t got long and he see it as his final opportunity to set things straight with his friends and family before he dies. Of course his friends and family aren’t going to make it easy for him. And Dr Gill is chasing him around Brooklyn in an effort to make amends with him herself - to save her job and her perhaps her pride. The story unfolds in what is as close to real time as you are likely to get in a film and it has a reasonable sense of pace.
It’s all rather emotional. Not because of the script perhaps, which is less than you might hope for, but because of Williams’ recent, sad death. Another great actor that’s died too soon. His work throughout his career has been nothing short of fantastic, his performances were amazing in the likes of Dead Poets Society (1989), The Fisher King (1991), Good Will Hunting (1997), What Dreams May Come (1998), Bicentennial Man (1999), One Hour Photo (2002) and Death to Smoochy (2002). His death is a loss to the film industry and the world. He made the world a better, funnier, place.
I'm not entirely convinced by Williams as a angry man. We've not seen him like this before. Yes we've seen him as dark characters but not just as a nasty bastard for no particular reason. Even if his reasoning to some extent become clearer later on when we find out that his anger stems from the death of his youngest son two years earlier, but still he doesn't convince as the script doesn't allow him to. He has weak characterisation and underdeveloped set ups for his unfettered anger. That's not to say his acting is poor, simply that I can't believe that Williams is nasty. He's always been primarily a comedy actor. It's difficult to see him as anything else.
It's not uncommon for a film to come along with a less than outstanding script but offering an A List cast. What would these films be like without these top actors? Inevitably they'd be less. Williams and Kunis are always watchable. He's a great character actor. She’s a good actor, plus beautiful. So much that it's even casually referenced in the dialogue between characters just because it'd probably be more difficult to not notice her beauty than it would to see it staring you in the face. They are likeable even when their characters are unlikable. She is incompetent and clearly doesn't love her job as much as she once did, or should do. He is grieving at the death of his son and unable to forgive his other son for not joining him in the family business, choosing instead to be a dancer. Without Williams and Kunis this film would struggle to hold audience attention.
It's not a great film. The story is too slight to really grab hold of the audience, the languid direction doesn’t help to pull you in either, but it’s watchable and it does have something to say. The Angriest Man in Brooklyn is mostly well acted and has a few laughs along the way.