Review: Robin Williams deals with death as 'Angriest Man'

By Fred Hawson

Posted at Aug 21 2014 12:16 PM | Updated as of Aug 21 2014 08:32 PM

The movie "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn" was released in local cinemas almost immediately after Robin Williams' shocking death by suicide just last week. I watched it without knowing what this was all about, except that Williams was playing the titular "angriest man in Brooklyn." As this black comedy unfolded though, you could not help but think about the probable parallelisms of his character's story to his real life.

Henry Altman is a successful lawyer, but he is one very angry man. He is at odds with everyone around him, be it his wife Bette (Melissa Leo), his son Tommy (Hamish Linklater), his brother Aaron (Peter Dinklage!) or anyone around him. Anything and everything makes him snap, making everyday a bad day for him.

One day, while at the hospital for a checkup, Dr. Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) tells Altman that he has serious case of a brainstem aneurysm. Altman badgers Dr. Gill for a prognosis. The harassed young doctor, who was having a very bad day of her own, blurts out that he only has 90 minutes to live.

This shocking pronouncement sends Altman out on a personal mission to get together and make up with all the people he had ever wronged. However, given his really lousy behavior in the past two years, this quest will not be simple to do within an hour and a half. Meanwhile, realizing her fault and haunted by guilt, Dr. Gill goes on a wild goose chase after him.

The whole scenario is a series of highly improbable events happening. The protagonist supposedly only has 90 minutes to live, but he spends the whole of that time running around New York City, instead of driving around. Many scenes, like the scene on the Brooklyn Bridge, or the old friend in the cafe, to mention a few, were awkwardly staged and too melodramatic. Those scenes with the Uzbek taxi driver were simply bad.

This is not exactly be among Robin Williams' best films, but he still makes the best out of its flawed screenplay. Only he can make this most miserable and disagreeable character still come out charming and sympathetic. Only Williams can deliver those mile-a-minute lines with such energy and inimitable style. That scene where he was delivering a message for his estranged son is an acting highlight. His talents will really be missed.

Mila Kunis also does well in her role as a burned-out young medic struggling to deal with very difficult and demanding patients. I just wished those scenes where she was fornicating with a senior doctor did not have to be shown, as it ran so much against her character. The other impressive names in the cast like Melissa Leo and Peter Dinklage were simply so underused. How I wished they could have had more scenes of interaction with Williams. It was such a waste of award-winning cast members.

Ordinarily, a film with such a negative topic like this may not really be appreciated very well or even given much notice at all. I dare say it might not even be released in local theaters. However, given the tragic real-life events surrounding its star, this film's sensitive story line with Robin Williams dealing with death and dying gains an entirely different significance. 6/10

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."