About Schmidt (2002)

DVD Cover (New Line Studios)
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Overall Rating 72%
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Ranked #1,378
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Warren Schmidt has led a safe, predictable life working in the insurance industry in Omaha, Nebraska for many years, yet now faces retirement. At the same time, he is forced to take a hard look at his wife, his life, and his relationship with his estranged daughter. An often hilarious series of events follow as Schmidt embarks on an unpredictable RV journey to attend his daughter's wedding in Denver, Colorado. --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 20, 2008
I am about to make a very bold statement -- this may have been the best year for movies ever, or since I can remember. Never have I given such a string of films a four pop review; film after film after film impresses me in a whole new way and is going to make it extremely difficult on me come time to choose my Top 10 for the year. I might just have to do a Top 50. "About Schmidt" is no exception to this, a miraculous new film from the writer and director of the brilliant "Election", which starred Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon and, along with "Rushmore", were my two favorite films from 1998. And, as much as it pains me to say this, and as much as it completely caught me off guard, this has, thus far, been my favorite film of 2002. Wow, I said it. And, in my opinion, it should win Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture at the 2002/2003 Academy Awards. It was just that damn good.

Jack Nicholson stars, in his best performance to date, as Warren Schmidt, a man who has lived his entire life with the same kind of desperation and nothingness that drives most middle aged and elderly men to suicide. He lives with his wife, Helen (June Squibb). well that is until she drops dead right in front of him. Alas, Schmidt has been having reservations about their marriage before her death, when he thinks, "Who is this old woman living here with me?" So, with his wife dead and absolutely nothing to loose, Schmidt jumps in his 45 foot Winnebego and travels cross-country to find his daughter and meet the man she intends to marry and he impending mother-in-law.

Schmidt's daughter is played by Hope Davis, her fiancÚ is Dermot Mulroney, and his mother is Kathy Bates, in her best performance to date and the most entertaining in the entire film. While staying there, Schmidt tries to find something he has never known -- happiness and meaning to his life. Eventually, Schmidt, after seeing an advertisement on television, adopts a 6-year old Tanzanian boy named Ndugu. He starts pouring his heart out in letters to the boy, giving him some satisfaction, while knowing all the while that the boy will probably not be able to understand a word of it. It is merely Schmidt's way of venting, and making himself feel better. While Schmidt is desperately boring and sluggish, Kathy Bates' character embraces life with a vicious hug and is an exact contrast, and their moments together on screen are priceless. Schmidt kind of reminded me of Kevin Spacey's character in "American Beauty", without the extremes towards the end. No hope is ever really given for Schmidt, however. It is apparent he has wasted most of his life and can only hope to salvage what is left in his post-retirement years.

Jack Nicholson is amazing. He ditches all of his old shticks and habits and portrays Schmidt with the kind of attitude and charisma that he has never used before -- none. Jack Nicholson would have you believe he is the perfect uneventful bore, and unless we knew better from films such as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Batman", we might fall for it. He certainly deserves the Best Actor Oscar, and I don't really see how he can't receive it. And, Kathy Bates, should definitely be one of the leading contenders for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. To do otherwise would be a severe travesty of monumental proportions.

Director Alexander Payne has crafted a moving and emotional journey of one man to discover himself and why he is still on this planet. In some aspects, Schmidt could be Matthew Broderick's character from "Election", later on down the road. After taking four years off since "Election", Payne has really hit the nail on the head with this film, and he certainly deserves recognition. I recommend this film for everyone, though everyone will not enjoy it. I don't care if you hate it, you should still see it so that it might encourage you to live your life before it passes you by. I laughed, I cried, and I walked out raving about this one-of-a-kind motion picture that will undoubtedly top my end of the year list. See it, and it just might top yours also. 10/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added November 20, 2008 at 4:20pm
Couldn't agree with you more. A 10/10 is definitely in order. One of the best movies Jack's ever done.
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