"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, November 14, 2009

SNMR 7.14: "About Schmidt"


Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) from Omaha, Nebraska, is facing a new challenge in his life: retirement - a challenge for which he is not prepared. He is a man who will never be ready for the first day of the rest of his life. He's also trying to figure out how he feels about his wife of 42 years, Helen, because of her idiosyncrasies and annoying habits. However, as Schmidt is soon to learn the hard way, she was the glue that held his life together.
As a bit of a good deed, Schmidt decides to sponsor a six year old boy from Tanzania, Ndugu, for $22 a month. We never see Ndugu, but every so often, Schmidt complains about his life to a boy halfway across the world who can't even read, via several letters he is encouraged to write to his sponsored child.

Schmidt decides to take a road trip in the super-sized Winnebago that Helen wanted. His destination is Denver, Colorado, where he hopes to put a stop to his daughter Jeannie's (Hope Davis) wedding to a likeable schmuck, Randall Hertzel (Dermot Mulroney) who sells water beds.

At the very end, Schmidt thinks he's led a worthless life, having zero effect on anyone else.

Nobody plays a disgruntled old curmudgeon quite like Jack Nicholson. In fact, it is on Jack's reputation alone that I even had interest in this movie at all. It's an interesting look at how a man can be unsatisfied with his life, especially as it unravels at his feet, and how he deals with it - or refuses to.

Hope Davis and Dermot Mulroney are excellent, as are Kathy Bates and Howard Hesseman in their limited roles. Bates seems to be in most everything these days and Hesseman will always be known and loved as WKRP's Dr. Johnny Fever.

Director Alexander Payne, who also co-wrote the screenplay gets strong performances from his cast, as both Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates were nominated for Oscars in 2003. Despite Nicholson's versatility and typically strong performance, this was not his best role.

However, I think the film was too long, at just over two hours because sometimes the story got bogged down. I thought about stopping partway through but didn't because you never know when Nicholson will do something unexpected.

All in all this is a decent movie and a worthwhile rental or library borrow, especially if you are at or around retirement age.

*** out of *****

About Schmidt (2002, R, 124 minutes), starring Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Durmot Mulroney, Howard Hesseman, Kathy Bates and Len Cariou. Based on the novel by Louis Begley. Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. Directed by Alexander Payne.



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