Projections - Movie Reviews

About Schmidt

In his Omaha Woodman of the World insurance tower, Jack Nicholson's Warren Schmidt sits and waits for the clock to move.  At 5 PM the day will end and so will his career.  It's the last day on the job for the long time actuarial analyst.  What follows is his venture into retirement and a measure of the value of his life.

Directed by Alexander Payne, Nicholson's Schmidt tells his story through letters to Ndugu Umbo his sponsored foster child in Africa which he bought into after listening to Angela Lansbury in a commercial encouraging support for "the children."

The script is laced with ironic comedy wrapped around what appears to be a static life capped with a meaningless retirement.  Schmidt sees his wife as an old women he can not stand to be with and the control of his life both at work and home appear to push him toward another destiny.

The success he had was at work, but Schmidt makes the mistake of returning to the work place and learns his presence has quickly healed over.  They don't need him any more.

His wife of forty two years, Helen, manages the house and he begins to find her every action irritating.  She is the old woman living in his house.  Schmidt wakes at 7 AM wears ties when he goes out, almost as if he were continuing his safe steady life around a perfect colonial brick house.

But Schmidt who walks like Jackie Gleason's lost soul finds life even more empty when he losses Helen.  Her secrets and their daughter Jeannie's  (Hope Davis) plan to marry a water bed salesman bring no joy to his despondent life.

His dull blunted life at times make an equally dull film, but when his daughter's future mother-in-law (Kathy Bates) appears the script picks up.  She is the opposite of static and conventional, she even challenges Schmidt's reserve when she jumps into a hot tub with him.

Even with Bates and a convincing performance by Nicholson, About Schmidt remains a photo album of snap shots from life that don't bring about change, hope or even depression. They just happen.  Even when communication from the third world comes to him it's just another still for us to ponder.

 
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About Schmidt
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