Film review: The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014), directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) is a man who gets angry about pretty much everything. On the way to the doctors one afternoon a taxi rams into his car, and then an overworked doctor, Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis), tells him he has a brain aneurysm. She’s only covering for his usual doctor who was supposed to give him his test results, he’s being a belligerent arsehole and refuses to listen to her saying she can’t give him a time estimate of how long he’s got, because it’s not her area of expertise. She wants him to head straight to see a specialist at the hospital who can say how long he’s got, but he keeps pushing her. Finally snapping, she tells him he only has 90 minutes left to live.
Henry storms out of the practice, determined to make the most of his last hour and a half. He has pissed off a lot of people in the past, but perhaps he can try to mend a few bridges before the clock runs out – in particular, he wants to fix the relationship with his son Tommy (Hamish Linklater), who refused to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Dr Gill is equally determined to track him down and get him to the hospital, enlisting the help of Henry’s wife Bette (Melissa Leo) and brother Aaron (Peter Dinklage) along the way.
You also get to see people like James Earl Jones as a stuttering shop owner, Isiah Whitlock Jr and Jerry Adler as Aaron’s clients, and Richard Kind as an old high school friend of Henry’s.
It’s a film perhaps based on a flawed premise – would a doctor really tell a patient he only has 90 minutes left to live, even if he’s an arsehole and she’s overworked? – but it poses a good question: if you know your time’s almost up, how do you spend the rest of your life? It becomes even more poignant when you consider that this was one of Robin Williams’s final films – and he died only three months after it came out.
To be honest, that this was one of Robin Williams’s last films and that he chose to end his life is sadly the only thing that makes the film memorable. Why? because Henry is constantly angry (strong “old man yells at clouds” energy), and Dr Sharon is constantly frustrated trying to find him. It’s pretty predictable as films go, but it has some amusing moments. It’s a bit strong to call it a comedy, because it’s mostly not funny, it’s just sad. It’s a drama with some amusing bits to it, and I think it shows that Robin Williams was a great dramatic actor as well as a fantastic comedian.
Most of all I enjoyed the scenery, which was part of the reason I watched it, let’s be honest – if you’re into Brooklyn, you get to see a lot of it.
3.5 out of 5 90-minute turkey roast recipes.