About Schmidt, with Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis – movie review

by Peter

I just, more or less by chance, watched About Schmidt, a about-schmidtmovie from 2002, directed by Alexander Payne, and featuring Jack Nicolson, Kathy Bates, and Hope Davis. To my mind this is a wonderful movie, based on an everyday, in fact quite boring character – the recent retiree Warren Schmidt. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and has just retired from his seemingly boring position in an American insurance company. He hates retirement, for which he is basically not prepared, and thinking about it, he also finds that his wife, Helen, to whom he has been married for 42 years, also annoys him. Virtually all her habits and idiosyncrasies are annoying to him. And to top it off, his only child, Jeannie, that he seems to have some attachment to, is engaged to a man whom Warren cannot stand. So it’s all pretty miserable. In the midst of it all, he becomes a “foster parent” to a child, Ndugu, in Tanzania.

Then suddenly his wife dies. He realizes more and more how totally empty his life is. And in desperation he sends letters discussing all aspects of his life to Ndugu, along with the monthly twenty-two dollars that he has pledged to pay. The letters become a means of venting his pent up anger and frustration about everybody and everything. And in the end, when all is said and done, these letters become the saving grace of Warren Schmidt.

It is a strange movie. A movie, I think, which would have been a total bore were it not for Jack Nicolson. He totally carries the movie. He owns it. Nicholson acts with his entire body. He becomes a different man when he raises an eyebrow, or half-smiles, or throws a glance. He plays the bore with the skill and personality only Jack Nicolson has, and lights it up all the way. So, yeah, I actually liked the movie a lot. But then, I am a fan of Jack Nicolson, always have been. And I strongly suspect that you will have to be to really enjoy this movie. But if you – like me – are a Jack Nicolson devotee, and haven’t seen About Schmidt, you have missed out on something!

Link to amazon US: About Schmidt, or from amazon UK: About Schmidt [2003].

Related Posts:

Leave a Comment