Henry Altmann (Robin Williams) is a middle-aged lawyer, utterly consumed by bitterness and rage. When he goes for a scheduled health checkup, he is enraged to discover that his usual doctor is on leave and he has to deal with a replacement. The replacement doctor, Dr Gill (Mila Kunis) has her own problems – her dog just died, she’s disillusioned with her job, she’s addicted to painkillers, and she’s only working the extra shift because she’s having an affair with Altmann’s doctor (an uncredited cameo by Louis CK) and he used that to pressure her into covering for him. On looking at Altmann’s brain scans she discovers a dangerous aneurysm, and when he becomes angry with her she panics and tells him that he has 90 minutes to live.
Altmann flees the hospital, frantic to correct everything that’s gone wrong with his life in the little time he has left. Meanwhile, Dr Gill realises the magnitude of what she’s done – she sent a critically ill patient out into the world, furiously angry, with a condition that could kill him if his blood pressure rises any higher. If Altmann dies, she’ll be investigated and her addiction and her affair will both come to light – she’ll be ruined and totally unemployable. Terrified, Dr. Gill sets off into New York in the hopes of saving both Henry Altmann, and herself.
It’s difficult to separate the central conceit of The Angriest Man In Brooklyn from its circumstances. The film was among the last projects that Robin Williams completed before his death, and was rushed into distribution shortly after he died. This lends an odd tone of foreshadowing to the spectacle of watching Williams’ character spend 90 minutes coming to terms with mortality.
Unfortunately, that’s all undercut by the scripting. Altmann’s rages are characterised by a weird, clunky, speechifying style (a criminal waste of an improviser as good as Robin Williams) and there’s an unnecessary third-person narrator who constantly detracts from the action by holding forth at length on characters’ inner thoughts. Williams is surrounded by an excellent supporting cast (including Peter Dinklage, Mellisa Leo, James Earl Jones, Richard Kind and Jerry Adler as well as those already mentioned) and everyone does good work. When the movie gives the characters space to breathe and talk naturally with each other, everything feels like it’s finally going to come together – but then the bizarre stilted speeches or the narration starts up again and it all goes out the window.
All in all, The Angriest Man In Brooklyn is not a bad movie. If the timing had been different, it would be considered a minor, but mostly inoffensive, piece of the wider Robin Williams canon. As it is, the extra attention brought on it by his death and its prophetic-seeming subject matter is more scrutiny than it can stand up to. Robin Williams completists will want to see this, and it’s certainly not the worst possible movie, but people wanting a definitive late-period Robin Williams performance would be better off watching World’s Greatest Dad or maybe The Butler.
Sort of maybe recommended?