New York City. Melvin Udall, a cranky, bigoted, obsessive-compulsive writer, finds his life turned upside down when neighboring gay artist Simon is hospitalized and his dog is entrusted to Melvin. In addition, Carol, the only waitress who will tolerate him, must leave work to care for her sick son, making it impossible for Melvin to eat breakfast.
Jon Reeves <[email protected]>
User Reviews: Jack Nicholson is one of those actors who impresses me the second (and I’m not overstating in the least bit) he appears on screen. The moment I see Jack’s face on screen, I get this feeling that everything’s going to be all right. He could do a Pauly Shore film, and elevate its quality with his mere presence. And I didn’t even get to his acting.
Nicholson won a well-deserved Oscar for this movie. Then again, I feel like he deserves an Oscar for virtually everything he’s been in. Hell, you can even give him an Oscar nod for "Anger Management." THAT’S how great he is! He’s one of those actors who can communicate even more emotion when he’s not saying anything than when he is. And of course, he has one of the coolest movie star voices ever, so it makes it a joy whenever he does speak. I still feel like "You can’t handle the truth!" wouldn’t be as priceless a line if Jack didn’t yell it. He can say almost any line of dialogue and turn it into gold. In this movie it was "You make me wanna be a better man." Again, an otherwise forgettable line of dialogue made gold by Jack.
"As Good As It Gets" is a flawed film, with scenes that drag and an overlong running time, but it’s highly enjoyable and altogether pretty well-written. Aside from its many hilarious moments, it’s also quite touching. But I have to admit that it’s the comedy that sticks out most in my memory. There’s some priceless gags like when a Jewish couple is sitting at Jack’s usual table. He first intrudes into their conversation saying, "People who speak in metaphors oughtta shampoo my crotch." He complains to Helen Hunt, his usual waitress, saying "I have Jews at my table!" He then intrudes in the couple’s conversation again, noticing the food on their table, saying "Obviously your appetites aren’t as big as your noses." Now, I probably wouldn’t want to personally know a man like Melvin in my real life, but I still found those cracks to be hysterically funny. The same when he attacks Greg Kinnear’s gay character with constant homosexual slurs.
The performances are great all-around. Though Jack pretty much steals the show, Greg Kinnear gives a wonderfully endearing performance. He doesn’t play out the gay stereotypes, yet he’s sensitive and feminine enough to have me convinced that he is gay (unlike Eric McCormack on "Will and Grace" who acts like he’s gay for the sake of the show’s gimmick). It’s nice to see Kinnear rise from the host of "Talk Soup" and the thankless late night talk show "Later" to a fine actor. Previously, I wouldn’t have any notion that he could become what he is now. Helen Hunt also gives a compelling, emotionally packed performance. And Shirley Knight, as her mother, provides a little bit of comic relief. Cuba Gooding Jr. has a small but interesting role, and he makes the best of it.
The film does have its dull moments, but Jack’s one-of-a-kind performance makes it all worthwhile. There is nobody, and I mean NOBODY, who could’ve played Melvin better than him. I read in the trivia that John Travolta was originally offered the role. Now, I like Travolta, but in this type of role he wouldn’t hold a candle to Jack.
My score: 7 (out of 10)