About Schmidt

"Weak"

About Schmidt Review


See Jack brood. See Jack rebelliously piss standing up (no, no frontal nudity). See Jack cry. Notice the use of the name "Jack" and not Schmidt because, no matter how much Jack Nicholson is supposed to be restrained from his normally boisterous persona, the amount of tightly shot footage in About Schmidt dedicated specifically to closely framing Jack's mug never lets you forget exactly who you are looking at. There should be plenty of available excerpt material for Oscar this year. It certainly doesn't help derail the notion of this being a vanity piece that none of the supporting characters get a chance to shine.

Not that Jack can't be remarkably and convincingly low-key. His roles in both of Sean Penn's directorial projects, The Crossing Guard and The Pledge, are some of the best and most understated work he's ever done. And having enjoyed Citizen Ruth and Election, it's surprising to find that writer/director Alexander Payne's latest attempt at satire falls short of impressing when it stars someone that is capable of delivering. Maybe a comparison of the type of respect Penn must demand versus a relative newcomer to Hollywood is in order.

So Warren Schmidt (Nicholson) is a recent retiree whose doting wife of 42 years suddenly passes away, and his daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis) is about to marry someone we're obviously supposed to consider inferior (Dermot Mulroney) for spouting silly self-help maxims and inclusion in a pyramid scam. To feel as if he's making some kind of positive difference, Schmidt begins sponsoring an impoverished child all those television ads are always selling. He starts writing letters to the needy child which become a therapeutic channel to expound upon the events in his life. But to desperately convince himself of his own worth, he paints a picture for this stranger of the outcome he wished for rather than responsibly accept that he isn't a different person.

To begin with, About Schmidt is lazy storytelling for its reliance on a voice-over track to explain the internal functioning of Schmidt as he fumbles around in his Winnebago. While it's appreciated that he doesn't run the gamut of childlike tantrums with the many unexpected changes forced on his life, it's annoying to continually stare at an emoting face and be so explicitly told how he's thinking or feeling. It also cheapens any possible sentimental growth in Schmidt to hear about it through self-perpetuating, slightly delusional, heavy-handed dialogue instead of simply seeing him act different in his environment.

However, About Schmidt is not without some merit. It does take the opportunity to dive into some of the darker, self-defeating routines people explore when they have too much time on their hands. It's humorously pathetic that a commercial we're all used to ignoring not only suckers Schmidt into sending precious money but also initiates an important lifestyle introspection. The setup and first realization of Schmidt's divergent opinions from what is shown in his daily actions is well-paced and provokes laughter. Unfortunately, after venturing down these rare paths About Schmidt falls back in line with regurgitated product of yesteryear, much akin to that other "sensitive Nicholson" film that caught Oscar's eye, As Good As It Gets.

The About Schmidt DVD features a number of thoughtfully composed deleted scenes, prefaced by explanatory title cards, that fans of the film will enjoy immensely. There are also five curious short films about the Woodmen Building (where Schmidt originally works), commissioned by Payne for an unknown purpose.

Reviewed at the 2002 New York Film Festival.

Let's hear it for me.



About Schmidt

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd January 2003

Box Office USA: $65.0M

Box Office Worldwide: $105.8M

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 170 Rotten: 30

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Warren R. Schmidt, as Roberta Hertzel, as Jeannie Schmidt, as Randall Hertzel, as Helen Schmidt, as Larry Hertzel, as Vicki Rusk, as John Rusk, Mark Venhuizen as Duncan Hertzel, Cheryl Hamada as Saundra, Matt Winston as Gary Nordin

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.