June 11, 2014 – The cast talented – Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Peter Dinklage, and Melissa Leo; the compelling premise – A man visits a doctor and is mistakenly told he has 90 minutes to live; and the screenplay based on the acclaimed Israeli film “The 92 minutes of Mr. Baum”. It all adds up to an enjoyable film. Or, at least it should.
I wanted to like “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn” a lot more than I did. It lured me in at first, and lost me about halfway through, but I stayed with it for the 83 minutes run time. That’s seven minutes less than Mr. Altman was given before he expired, so except for a few flashbacks, the story unfolds in real-time.
The best thing about this film is the stellar cast. Only Robin Williams could play the role of a man given his death sentence with his cartoon facial expressions. They work well in this story. And who doesn’t love Peter Dinklage these days? He is fine in the film, but his character looks ordinary next to his fan favorite character, Tyrion Lanister in HBO’s “Game of Thrones”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Rounding out the cast is Mila Kunis, who gave a solid performance, but one that may have been just as good with any number of actresses, and Melissa Leo, another HBO alumni (Treme), who is at the top of her game in every role she takes.
Williams plays Mr. Altman, a miserable man who has lost all hope with everything in his life. His overworked doctor (Kunis), a woman with severe anger issues herself, mistakenly gives him the bad news that he has 90 minutes to live because she is pushed over the edge by his insistence on a number, and possibly due to her drug habit (she pops pills as quickly as she sees patients).
From the looks of it, everyone is angry in Brooklyn, so to label Mr. Altman the angriest is saying something. His wife (Leo) is angry, and is having an affair with their neighbor, and his son (Hamish Linklater) is angry, too and hasn’t spoken to his father in two years. Even the extras on the streets appear to be angry. Altman’s brother (Dinklage) is the only well-adjusted person in the story, and his scenes were refreshing because they provided a nice change of pace.
Was the film a comedy or a drama? I’m not sure where it fits. What is odder, however, is that it has two voice-over narrators in the story (Altman and the doctor), both who are the angriest of characters. The screen writer should heed the advice given to all new writers; don’t switch the points of view too often, or you will confuse and loose the reader. In this case, it was more annoying than confusing, but as the viewer, it did take me out of the moment when they switched.
Still, I didn’t hate the film, and found a few redeeming qualities. It is somewhat unique in the world of action movies and sequels, despite how easy it was to predict the ending. It played like a parable, a story you would tell to teach a moral lesson, and at times, perhaps it became too preachy. My first clue that the film wasn’t a masterpiece should have been that Comcast advertised it On Demand, “Same Day as Theaters”, a status no film would get if it was expected to be a blockbuster. But I’ve taken chances with these releases before and was happy with the results.
That being said, the film will most likely appear on cable within the next few months at no extra charge, so if you plan to see this one, you may want to wait until then.