Starring: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Kathy Bates, Howard
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Produced by: Harry Gittes, Michael Besman
by: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Distributor: New Line Cinema
combines irony and depression to make comedy. This is a powerful and effective
drama, with unbelievably real characters. On the surface, the material tickles
our funny bone. But when looking deeper, it has a story so close to home, we can
actually learn from it. Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates give killer performances,
and make this a deeply moving film about self-discovery. This is a movie that
centers around independence, and how it affects us for better, and for worse. It
was hard to for me decide whether to give it four buckets or not, but it is just
cocky enough in its execution to for me to give it three-and-a-half. It gets a
tiny bit too silly at times, but touches us; regardless. This is one of the
better dramas of the year, and even with a low budget; it showcases some of the
best talent on earth.
Warren R. Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) is a man who is bored by life. He is retired,
and hates it. This is because of two things. One: a young and know-it-all
business man stole his job, and has no questions to ask him about the position.
Two: now he has to stay home all day, and keep up with the constant annoyances
of his wife, Eleanor. His daughter, Jeanie (Hope Davis), lives in Denver with
her fiancť, Randall Hertzel (Dermont Mulroney). Warren
is not fond of Randall, and thinks that his daughter couldíve found a better
husband. Randall is a waterbed salesman, and has an eccentric family full of
hippies. According to Warren,
he really has nothing to live for. At 66, he will most likely die sometime in
the next 9 years (sighted from studies). What will cheer him up? Should he
somehow force his daughter not to marry Randall? Should he find some sort of
enjoyable hobby to help him cope with his ongoing depression? The direction that
his life is moving in takes a drastic turn when Eleanor dies of a blood clot.
How will it affect the people around him? How will their new outlook affect him?
Only time will tell.
liked the unique narrative pieces, done by Nicholson, which are sporadically
placed throughout the film. They are readings of various letters that he sends
to a child named Ndugu. This is a child that he sponsors, through an
organization. Ndugu is from Tanzania,
and lives on the 22 dollars that Warren
sends him every month. He sends letters along with the checks, to have a sense
of communication with Ndugu; even though the boy canít read or write in English.
avidly mouths off about his many problems in the letters, and speaks quite
candidly. There are several bits of humor that come along with the reading of
these. There are clever lines that Nicholson voices with wit and drama. All
aspects of this film are incredibly stretched, but the things that happen in it
happen everyday, in real life. It helps remind us how many nutty people there
are on the planet. This is a movie with moral lessons, and values. The dialogue
can be quite explicit at times, but it is definitely something that all viewers,
of all age should see.
About Schmidt is definitely one of the most powerful movies of the year. It
is also, undoubtedly, one of the best. Everything aspect of it, is perfect, from
the direction to the production. But, upon reflection, I canít say that it is
four bucket material. All of the dialogue is thoughtful, and entertains and
touches us at the same time. Jack Nicholson is excellent as Warren Schmidt, and
Kathy Bates captures the spirit of a character I have not introduced; Randallís
mother. Once again, the Holidayís
have brought us another incredible movie. There were generally favorable
responses from the other audience members who saw it with me, and the show was
sold out (Friday, ).
Mr. Nicholson obviously still has the power to attract as many audiences as he
used to. About Schmidt is like The Good Girl in the way that
operates. It has just enough comedy to make us not feel overblown by its
depressing side. This film and that film will ultimately be competing for the
number ten spot on my yearly top ten list.