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About Schmidt back to product details

Turns out...I don't give a sh** About Schmidt
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written by jmwagner66 January 27, 2012 - 5:16 PM PST
I saw this movie in a theater. If it hadn't been a 2$ matinee with free popcorn and 100degrees outside, I would have left. Instead I sat through this dog. Wow. Kathy Bates provides a breath of fresh air but her few scenes can't pull this one back up. It's dull. It's dark and it's drab. Perhaps if I were an actual aging curmudgeon...no, aging curmudgeons would hate that guy too. It wasn't even funny-bad. Just dull. And I like early Bergman films. I know from dull.

Nicholson at his best
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written by mkaliher2 April 15, 2011 - 11:07 PM PDT
So many have submitted their responses to this truly exceptional slice of Americana, I'll keep my reaction brief. If you've ever wondered, as I have, whether Jack Nicholson can really act--or whether he's been riding for decades on his celebrity from Easy Rider, and his middling, yet overrated performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest--this film will definitively answer your question. This film has to be one of the best American films ever made, and Nicholson's performance is, quite simply, outstanding. If you haven't seen it, by all means check it out.

road trip in retirement
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written by NBrown2 July 5, 2006 - 1:15 AM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
About Schmidt is summed up by an early scene in which an emotional old pal of Schmidt's says that the esteem in which a person is held and his connection to his friends are the measure of his success, not a bunch of gifts or a fancy dinner, which "don't mean a goddamn thing." Trouble is, Schmidt is the most emotionally detached, least self-aware person in the room. Even the young go-getter who moves into his old office, a politically savvy, patronizing figure, is in better touch with his feelings.

The role calls for Nicholson's familiar anger and venom to be largely repressed, except for those occasions when, in the course of writing long letters to a child he has impulsively sponsored through a global charity, his voiceover dictation swerves into resentful diatribes Schmidt can only dream of voicing out loud. He also makes desperate last-minute entreaties to his daughter to re-think her choice of husband. However, this is not as bleak as it may sound, and although dealings with his daughter (an excellent Hope Davis) are fractious, welcome humor is found in his son-in-law-to-be (Dermot Mulroney) and the sexually aggressive mother of said future son-in-law (Kathy Bates). Although Schmidt is made frantic by his daughter's fiancee, a doofus of a waterbed salesman, he somehow manages to maintain a sense of Midwestern decorum when it counts, to his credit.

Nicholson's satisfying portrayal is nuanced enough that it appears even Schmidt does not quite know if he can make an awkward peace with a situation he is powerless to stop, or whether he may be on a path to realizing unconditional familial love. Although the movie is about the possibility of finding redemption towards the end of an unexpectedly sad life, the Midwest does not come through unscathed.

While the secondary characters portrayed are not flattering, the film is not quite as satirical in approach as Election, also by director Alexander Payne.

It is interesting that another reviewer was reminded of Being There, about a profoundly simple man, played by Peter Sellars. In that earlier movie, a piece of music by Erik Satie (a gnosienne, No. 4) conveyed a feeling of autumnal sadness, and it is also used (quite well) here. The plot of Being There also concerned a detached main character setting out into the world from a home that has just lost what little vitality it had. Aside from these similarities, About Schmidt is its own story, albeit one that has been adapted from a darker but worthwhile novel by Louis Begley.

hypocrisy trumps hope
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written by nate December 24, 2004 - 5:48 PM PST
6 out of 8 members found this review helpful
I didn't enjoy this film. At first, I thought it was just slow starting, but as it dragged on I began to really detest it. I found it to be a dull film about a boring person who tries to change but can't. I wanted to feel compassion for the characters, but I felt like the film itself treated all its characters with nothing but condescension and ridicule.

The strong points are that the acting is reasonably good and the camera work pleasant. Apart from trying for physical comedy and failing (Nicholson thrashing around on a waterbed for far to long) the scenes are put together well. It just feels like it is lacking substance, message, solutions, anything to say...

I stuck through to the end of the film, hoping there would be a turnaround, something to redeem it. There wasn't. I'd recommend it if you are a consummate Nicholson fan, if you are doing a dissertation on dysfunctional narratives, or if you enjoy watching people mock things they don't understand. Otherwise skip it.


View of Hope in the Face of Defeat
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written by JMVerville October 21, 2004 - 6:34 AM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
What I really enjoy about this film is that the overall film produces a large feeling of hopelessness within you -- a hopelessness that is very real, very true, very genuine, and such a very human experience. But what this film does is not simply crush and destroy your hope for the future, but it demonstrates that in the face of hopelessness there is still... Hope? Or should I say -- moments of pleasure, moments of joy, and small, little events that make life worth living.

The film, from the beginning to the end, shows such a great unraveling of a life, such a great shedding of the skin -- you begin to understand what it means to be a human being (and not a fantastical character, but rather just an ordinary human).

It is a borderline spiritual event: with 'About Schmidt' we all realize the hopelessness of life, and shed the old skin that we had worn, and realize that our hopes and our dreams should lie in a new direction. We also learn that we should step back and analyze the world for what it is, as we see that Schmidt cannot control his life the way that we wanted to, and as we see that Schmidt is overlooked, we learn a lesson: happiness will always have to come from within, and our hopes can never be unrealistic.

A great film with a great lesson in it -- brutally honest. If you enjoyed this film, or would like to see more like it, I would recommend Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru.

nice try
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written by cammelltoe September 18, 2003 - 12:34 PM PDT
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
While watching this movie I was reminded of Hal Ashby's Being There. In Being There Peter Sellars gives a wonderful central performance. But the movie around him pretty much sucks. Oh, there are some funny moments, but the insight provided is, upon reflection, kind of shallow and the dramatic pacing episodic at best. The same can be said about About Schmidt, minus the funny moments. And as for trying to play with Jack's screen image...pairing him with a woman his own age for a change is something, but Nicholson has been succsessfully playing with image for decades already, and casting him as dowdy and self-deluded isn't really that daring (He played aganist type in King Of Marvin Gardens, while his "type" was stll being formed!). I think Alexander Payne is an interesting director, but he should take the kid gloves off next time.

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(Average 6.45)
367 Votes
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