On 11 August, Robin Williams committed suicide. On 19 August, Signature Entertainment announced it would be releasing The Angriest Man In Brooklyn – one of the last films Williams completed before his death – on DVD.
In that brief, eight-day window, the company had found time to broker the deal, get the film rated and even redesign its artwork in order to place Williams front and centre for all potential customers to see.
Its haste was understandable. The recently deceased are a major draw on home-entertainment formats (indeed, one of the film’s main competitors on DVD this week is Brick Mansions, which stars the late Paul Walker). Williams’s back catalogue has performed especially well in the wake of his death, with everything from Good Will Hunting to Jack rocketing back into the charts.
In The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Williams plays irate lawyer Henry Altmann, who finds reasons to be less-than-cheerful in everything from car alarms to blocked phone numbers. That is, until he’s forced to reassess his existence after a doctor mistakenly informs him that he has 90 minutes to live, for reasons about as sturdy as those that saw Williams don a pair of fake breasts in Mrs. Doubtfire.
It’s sad to see a naturally talented performer such as Williams wrestle with such contrived material. Like the rest of the cast, he’s forced to communicate partially through a baffling third-person inner monologue, a desperate attempt to appeal to an audience presumed to lap up any old postmodern bollocks. Director Phil Alden Robinson has made some decent films (Fletch, for example) but nothing since 2002.
Despite his best efforts, Robin Williams can’t rescue The Angriest Man In Brooklyn from these pretensions. It’s a shame that his death, and the sincere outpouring of grief and admiration with which it was met, has rescued the film from the obscurity it deserves.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Bad Neighbours Bros become foes.
Blue Ruin A bearded man seeks revenge.
Brick Mansions Parkour romp in dystopian Detroit with Paul Walker.
For No Good Reason Ralph Steadman documentary.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010