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
Very deep, sensitive movie and probably Jack Nicholson's best, in my opinion. The ending made me tear up.Published 18 days ago by shannon
I got this for my dad because he likes sad movies and likes Jack Nicholson.
He loved it, said it was the most depressing movie he ever saw. Read more
A very good but very touching in a couple of scenes but other than that a pretty good movie.
If you like movies with old people in it and are a big Jack Nicholson fan... Read more
This was actually recommended to us by a therapist in regards to grief and it's stages. Nicholson is just brilliant playing an almost emotionless actuary who is suddenly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Fairview1
This is one of the better roles played by Jack. The movie is really fuuny.Published 3 months ago by Russell Webb