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Adam Sandler, breeding 'Anger'

Box office hits, critical brickbats

By Todd Leopold
CNN

Nicholson and Sandler
Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler star in "Anger Management."

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(CNN) -- Roger Ebert has given exactly one of this star's films a rating of three stars or higher.

"The projectors in the theater practically shut down with boredom," The Washington Post's Desson Howe said of last year's "Mr. Deeds."

His movies have been accused of being sophomoric, dumb, crass, inane, and even -- the cardinal sin for a comedy, no matter how sophomoric, dumb, crass or inane -- unfunny.

And yet ask the public about Adam Sandler, and many folks are likely to answer by lining up at the box office to buy tickets for whatever he does. The former "Saturday Night Live" hand is one of today's biggest comedy stars.

He gets another chance with the reviewers and the public this weekend, when his new film, "Anger Management," opens.

Eye opener

This time, Sandler is paired with one of the most honored -- and critically praised -- actors of this or any other generation, three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson. "Anger Management" concerns an executive assistant, played by Sandler, who is wrongly accused of violent behavior on a flight and is forced into an anger-management program run by the wacky Nicholson.

Will the former "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" star drive "Happy Gilmore" into fits of rage? Will audiences laugh? Will critics foam at the mouth? Will some "SNL" has-been get a cameo? And whatever happened to an early Sandler colleague, "Remote Control" host Ken Ober? Nobody can say Adam Sandler films don't make you think.

On screen

• If you couldn't get enough of "Titanic," director James Cameron's got a treat: an IMAX film, "Ghosts of the Abyss," in which the voyage Cameron made to the sunken ship is presented in full big-screen glory. The film was made especially for 3D IMAX theaters.

On the tube

• Will Tiger make it three in a row? CBS airs the Masters golf tournament this weekend.

• Christine Lahti stars in "Out of the Ashes," a Showtime movie about Hungarian gynecologist Gisella Perl, who survived the Holocaust by working as the head of the women's infirmary at Auschwitz. Her position caused her trouble when she came to the United States in 1946. With Beau Bridges and Richard Crenna, the latter in one of his last roles.

Sound waves

• It's been more than 15 years since Fleetwood Mac made a studio album with Lindsey Buckingham, but with "Say You Will" (Warner Bros.), due Tuesday, the classic '70s version of the band is back -- except for Christine McVie. No word on whether the band covers the 1987 Foreigner hit of the same title.

• Sure, Kelly Clarkson became the "American Idol" -- but can she carry a whole album by herself? "Thankful" (RCA), her first solo CD, should provide some answers -- and, failing that, plenty of overwrought arrangements. Release date is Tuesday.

Paging readers

• This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' invention of the airplane. In "To Conquer the Air" (Free Press), James Tobin chronicles the race to be the first to create a mechanically powered airplane, and how the Wrights pulled it off. Due Monday.

• There are only a handful of living Nobel Prize-winning novelists, so a new work by one of them always deserves note. Gunter Grass' latest, "Crabwalk" (Harcourt) -- based on the sinking of the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945 -- features the "Tin Drum" author tackling one of his favorite themes, the dilemmas of Germany's past.

• Beach season isn't for another six weeks or so, but Lauren Weisberger's "The Devil Wears Prada" is already attracting attention as the dishy book of the year. Its main character, Miranda Priestly, is apparently a thinly veiled version of Vogue editor Anna Wintour -- Weisberger's former boss.


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