Review: The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

Here, Robin Williams’s frenzied comic demeanor is replaced with equally harried contempt.

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
Photo: Lionsgate

Playing an intensely agitated New Yorker in the scatterbrained dark comedy The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Robin Williams once again proves he can insufferably crank the energy to 11 without batting an eye, only this time his frenzied comic demeanor is replaced with equally harried contempt. A remake of the 1997 Israeli comedy The 92 Minutes Mr. Baum, in which a bitter man is told he only has 90 minutes to live, inspiring him to not only reconnect with his estranged family before it’s too late, but also question his entire existence, the film retains the original’s faux-existential framework. This is a redemption story that focuses on a character who doesn’t seem worthy of being redeemed given how awful he is to the people who care about him. And just as Henry Altman (Williams) searches for the meaning of life, director Phil Alden Robinson clearly struggles to achieve a confident tone throughout the film, which artlessly mixes comedy and drama and begins with a scene that suggests a leftover from Falling Down. The filmmaker strives for the nervous tension of the Joel Schumacher vigilante thriller, as in a scene where Henry steps out of his car to argue with a cabby he’s just collided with, but his efforts are repeatedly undone by William’s unthreatening demeanor. In the end, this is a one-man show, with the strong ensemble, which includes Mila Kunis, Peter Dinklage, James Earl Jones, Melissa Leo, and Louis C.K., playing second fiddle to Williams and his incessant ramblings. But for all of the actor’s shrillness, only Robinson is to blame for the incongruous tonal registers of the film’s structure, built as it is from clumsy comic set pieces, melodramatic confrontations, clunky flashbacks, shrilly written expository voiceover, and poorly timed bursts of aggression.

Score: 
 Cast: Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Peter Dinklage, James Earl Jones, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater  Director: Phil Alden Robinson  Screenwriter: Daniel Taplitz  Distributor: Lionsgate  Running Time: 94 min  Rating: R  Year: 2014  Buy: Video

Drew Hunt

Drew Hunt used to be an editorial assistant at the Chicago Reader. Now he's a strategy manager at Capitol Records.

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