Projections - Movie Reviews

As Good As It Gets

Jack Nicholson's character sums it all up when, as he's leaving his psychiatrist's office, he pauses in the full waiting room and exclaims "What if this is as good as it gets?"

Director James L. Brooks' comedy/drama introduces three lost souls with enough problems for 12 characters.

Nicholson plays Melvin Udall, a successful novelist living in New York City.  He's an obnoxious loner with a quick insult for anyone who crosses his path.

He tosses his barbs across the hall to his gay artist neighbor, Simon (played by Greg Kinnear, who is really good as the sensitive, nice guy).

Melvin follows strict daily rituals.  He goes to the same restaurant at the same time of day and sits at the same table.  He also insists that only Carol (Helen Hunt, with brown hair and dark circles under her eyes ) waits on him. Hunt is excellent in this role.

All three characters are troubled.  Melvin also suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, Carol is bitter and stressed out from worrying about her sick child, and Simon is broke and afraid to go to his parents for help.

As good as these actors are, Verdell, a small dog with huge chocolate eyes, almost upstages them.  He's also the reason that Melvin begins to act somewhat human when Simon is mugged and Melvin is coerced into caring to the dog while Simon's in the hospital.

Brooks and co-writer Mark Andrus take a serious scene and throw in an unexpected outrage for shock value.

Only a talent like Nicholson could play such a cad and get away with it.  Although, you find yourself wishing that just once he's shut his mouth and allow something good to happen to him.

As Good As It Gets couldn't be better.  It has everything:  a terrific script with witty dialogue, complex characters and complicated, unusual relationships which makes the film uniquely appealing.

It is rated PG-13 for brief nudity and crude obscenities.

 
Frank
Chris
Linda
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As Good As It Gets
 
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