Oscar winner Jack Nicholson stars as Warren Schmidt, an embittered man who has just retired after 32 years as an insurance company actuary. When his wife dies suddenly, Warren packs up the 35-foot Winnebago that he and his wife had planned to travel the country in and sets out on a journey across the Nebraska plains to Denver, Colorado, for his daughter's (Hope Davis) wedding to a waterbed salesman (Dermot Mulroney), whom Warren despises. Every move Warren makes seems wrong, and he appears destined to end his life as he lived it: a failure. But along the way, Warren recounts his journey to and shares his observations with an unexpected friend--a poor Tanzanian orphan whom Warren is sponsoring for 73 cents a day. In his long letters to the boy, Warren begins to see himself--and the life he has lived--in a new light.Globe Award Winner for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture.]]>
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His life really begins when he retires, as a series of life jarring changes occur. His wife of forty two years, Helen (June Squibb), suddenly dies. She is a domineering woman whom he loved on some level but for whom he was unable to express much feeling while she was still living, even though there were many things about her that irritated him. She, however, managed to have had a secret life of which he had not been a part. It seems that she was not all that satisfied with Schmidt, herself. It is an unwelcome surprise that colors his world when he discovers it but, at the same time, serves to begin to ease the pain of separation for him. There are some funny scenes that segue from this discovery.
Their only child, Jeannie (Hope Davis), lives in Denver, Colorado and is about to get married to Randall Hertzel (Dermot Mulroney), a dimwitted, waterbed salesman whom Schmidt cannot abide. He learns some truths about the real status of his own relationship with his daughter, Jeannie, and it is not the idealized relationship that he thought he had. In fact, he learns just how disconnected he is from his daughter, who is really a veritable stranger to him, as was his wife. Moreover, not even his best friend, Ray (Lou Cariou), was whom Schmidt thought him to be.Read more ›
When Warren suddenly becomes a widower, he takes stock of his life, and he is appalled at how empty it is. In desperation, Warren starts to write rambling letters to his Tanzanian foster child, Ndugu. (Warren sends the child twenty-two dollars a month in response to a television appeal). Even though Ndugu is six years old and cannot read, Warren pours his heart into these letters as a means of venting his anger and frustration.
Alexander Payne, who directed "About Schmidt" and shares credit for writing the fine screenplay, has done a commendable job of eliciting strong performances from an excellent cast. Kathy Bates is a hoot as Jeannie's future mother-in-law, and both Len Cariou and Howard Hesseman shine in small roles. The film, however, belongs to Jack Nicholson, who appears in practically every frame.
Nicholson acts with his entire body. He does wonders with a raised eyebrow, a half-smile, a gesture or a glance. In one hilarious scene, Nicholson does battle with a waterbed and loses. Nicholson captures the very essence of Warren Schmidt, a man who will never be ready for the first day of the rest of his life. Don't miss "About Schmidt" if you want to see one of the best performances of this or any year.
Warren decides to hit the road in the mobile home his Wife loved, and head off to help his Daughter with her upcoming wedding. His future In-Laws, headed up by Kathy Bates, are a comedy gold-mine, and Bates provides one of the most jaw-dropping shocks/laughs in recent movie history. At it's heart, About Schmidt is a small film about the human condition, and Nicholson's wonderfully warm and restrained performance is perfect. The narrative device the film uses (Schmidt writing letters to his African Foster-child, Ndugu) allows Nicholson to show both the put-upon outer Schmidt, and the "Mad-as-hell-and-not-gonna-take-it-anymore" inner Warren. It's nice to see Jack in a more restrained role than what he's generally known for. It's a wonderful performance in a film full of wonderful performances.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good example of learning to get to know older people and how to relate to themPublished 4 days ago by Dawn Koonkongsatian
Very touching. Hits home with many in later years of life. Nickelson is outastanding in this role.Published 8 days ago by Les Konrad
One of my favorite movies of all time. Jack Nicholson is so fantastic in this movie. It is a moving portrayal of someone entering their twilight years. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
Deff a chick flick. And not a feel good one at that. I found it very depressing and the dysfunctional family reminded me too much of my own upbringing to make it funny.Published 2 months ago by Wayne S. Mead
Movie seemed to be fun. We paused it about half way through. When we went to finish it the next night, we couldn't watch. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kathy F.