Field Of Spleens: The Angriest Man in Brooklyn 


The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson

Not since Dreamcatcher has such talent produced such crap. This is director Robinson’s first film in 12 years, though he once made Field of Dreams, lingering affection for which is the only thing that could account for the participation here of Peter Dinklage, Louie CK, Melissa Leo, Sutton Foster and James Earl Jones, to say nothing of headliners Mila Kunis and Robin Williams. These days, the latter only makes either good dramas or terrible comedies. This is a comedy. Well, a “comedy.”

It begins with a flustered doctor (Kunis) telling Williams he has exactly 90 minutes before a brain aneurysm kills him. Rather than prepping a malpractice suit for such an obviously bullshit prognosis, he resolves to use the time to repair his relationships with his distant wife and estranged son, but only after another character points out that family is important. For a while the film seems to promise a clever reversal of Crank—keep your heart rate low or you’ll die—but after Williams shrugs off a swan dive from the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s hard to see him as anything other than another summer superhero.

Oh, there is so much to hate in this film! Truly a critic’s cup doth runneth over, between the TV- movie-grade cinematography, schizophrenic tone, and dialogue that underlines the themes like an undergrad highlights every sentence in a textbook. (The most interesting scene is Jones’s cameo, since his half-assed performance reveals the seams he hides when trying.) There’s poignancy in wanting to right your wrongs in the face of death—Williams has one effective scene in which he tries to explain his life but cannot keep his anger in check—but the film is so muddled that none of the themes register. Everything in this movie feels off; it can’t even decide whether Williams is angry because he’s an asshole, nursing deep pain, or if it’s a side effect of urban living.

Ever worse is that this is a Brooklyn film made by a tourist. The things that make me angry about living in NYC include rent, rats and the MTA; our hero cites flip-flops, small cars and metal hangers. In one cringe-worthy scene, a black guy (one of the few in Brooklyn, apparently) is assumed to be a drug pusher, and then we find out he actually is; in another, we hear an eye-rolling line about a doctor who works at a free clinic and is apparently less stressed than another at an expensive hospital. The title is just a lame attempt to piggyback on the borough’s hipness quotient. Audiences, and Kings County, deserve better.

Opens May 23 at the AMC Empire


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