About Schmidt

2002 old person movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: An old guy retires. Then, his wife dies. He gets a pen pal and goes on a road trip to his daughter's wedding.

This fourth movie that Josh loaned me was actually something that I think I've had for about two years and just forgot about. I'm bad at borrowing things. My brother could tell you that.

Anyway, here's something. All four of the movies Josh loaned me--this, Guarding Tess, Wanderlust, and Slums of Beverly Hills--had something in common. I actually was convinced that Josh had done it on purpose because if it's just an accidental coincidence, it's probably a sign of the apocalypse or something. What did they have in common? All four movies featured a scene where a character was on a toilet.

I'd seen this before but couldn't remember if I liked it. Turns out, I do like it. I really like Nicholson's performance better than I thought I had. Nothing he does here really stands out and looks like great acting with the exception of the very end where the guy is just about perfect. But there are so many subtle things he does here in scenes where he has no dialogue at all or where the dialogue really doesn't add anything. Those kinds of subtle things add this incredible depth to his character and the character's situation that lesser actors would need a bunch of words to help explain. It's really pretty amazing how Nicholson, at this stage of his career, is able to carry a movie like this because a lot of his peers just got to a point where they had lost interest. Maybe Nicholson had lost interest, too, and this kind of thing just came naturally. But whatever it is, it really works, and he gives this movie and its flimsy story a quiet and deliberate drive.

What's the opposite of a coming-of-age movie? That's what this is? It's a character study of an old guy who realizes that all he really has left to do is die. That sounds like the opposite of coming-of-age, right?

This is labeled as a comedy/drama, but it's not funny in any obvious way. The comedy comes from life's little ironies--internal monologues that are letters to an African kid who won't have any fucking clue what he's talking about, for example. But this is peppered with all these humorous moments, moments juxtaposed with these quiet poignant moments, and it just works to paint a character who, although maybe not very realistic, has this refreshing kind of Hollywood realism. I'm sure you know exactly what that means.

I can't write about this movie without talking about Dermot Mulroney's hair and mustache combination. I mean, just look at the guy.

That's impressive and makes me feel like less of a man. I've never been much of a man anyway, but when you see something like that, you're hopeless.

And I can't write about this movie without mentioning the main reason to watch this in the first place. You know, the real reason that I kept it for about two years without returning it to Josh.

The shots that led to the still above have given me masturbation fodder for 14 years. Kathy Bates isn't in this as much as she's in Misery, of course, but she's really good here, too. What she does in her roles just seems effortless. She's just an actress who is naturally good.

The way this movie just lets this character exist makes it my favorite of the Jack-Nicholson-as-an-old-guy movies. I prefer this to The Bucket List or As Good As It Gets although I really can't remember the other at all, really just that Jack Nicholson has a sex scene with a dog.


cory said...

As I devolve into an old man, I may make an effort to revisit these types of movies to become even more depressed. I saw this when it came out and remember Jack being kind of a downer and Bates in a hot tub being even more of a downer. The acting was good and I seem to remember liking the ending, so maybe I'll give it another shot. Younger me would give it a 13.

Shane said...

You're a 'Bucket List' guy. That was an Oprah Movie Club pick (yours, as I recall) a while back. I definitely prefer this one, but I did like 'Bucket List' more than I thought I would. And definitely more than Barry who, again as I recall, didn't like it at all.

cory said...

I'm sure it is because he's in aging denial. That was definitely a flawed movie, but it squarely hit a lot of my emotional buttons. Can't blame anyone for not liking it as much as I do.