As Good As It Gets
Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt
The Bottom Line:
As Good As It Gets is a wonderful romantic comedy - watch it for the dog!!!
As Good As It Gets tells the story of a lonely, very cranky, old man who finds himself falling in love with a woman who seems to be unavailable to him. The story's message is about finding love, human and canine, in the least likely places. It reminds the audience that there are always opportunities to discover new and enlightening friendships, wherever you live and whatever you might be dealing with. As Good As It Gets provides the viewer with a humorous and sometimes touching version of one dysfunctional man's story. It is a story that can make you laugh at the irony of it all and come away from feeling reassured that love will find a way, even in the least likely of places.
Jack Nicholson is Melvin Udall, the obsessive-compulsive old man who is a lonely writer and in need of friendship. Jack Nicholson is the only actor I could imagine for this role. Nicholson's expressions and gestures are just right for the cranky old man. His voice seems a likely Melvin. Melvin is always doing his obsessive-compulsive rituals and Jack does these in a very believable way. He seems as close to being obsessive-compulsive as any actor could have. He also seems to be as cranky as his character and adds a genuineness to the character that could only come from years of acting experience or pure talent. Melvin grew quite a bit as the movie moved toward the ending. He stopped some of his obsessive-compulsive behaviors and became more relaxed, more human and less cranky. Jack Nicholson won Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance and I believe he deserved the win.
Helen Hunt played Carol Connelly, the waitress who is mother to an asthmatic son, who keeps her out of work sometimes - to the outrage of Melvin. Hunt was the independent and dynamic Carol, who seems uncertain about what her relationship to Melvin is. She goes back and forth in her relationship with Melvin and seems genuinely outraged by his loud, sometimes obnoxious, demeanor. She is expressive,showing her caring nature and seeming to understand, despite her confusion, when Melvin displays his signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Carol grew in her role and began to accept that she was beginning to care for a person she would not have chosen for herself. Hunt was an excellent choice for Carol Connelly and she won Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance.
Greg Kinnear played Simon Bishop, the gay neighbor who finds himself in need of a dog sitter and a friend. Kinnear was believable in his role as Simon and was very convincing as an artist. He was also convincing as the victim and seemed to be as depressed as the role called for. He seemed to genuinely love his dog, Verdell, who is so adorable that you should see the film just for the dog. Verdell is the first one to gain access into the cranky Melvin's heart and he seems to miss Melvin as much as Melvin misses him when he is returned to Simon.
James L. Brooks directed As Good As It Gets and was also one of the screenplay writers of the film. I believe the director was trying to create a romantic comedy that could entertain while sending a message about the ironies of love. The one thing that felt unique to this movie was the relationship between the two leading roles, Melvin and Carol. They seemed too different to ever go beyond freindship, but the story leads them into an intimate relationship and it works. The film seemed to move a little slower at points, but overall the pacing was appropriate and worked for the story. I believe the director was trying to create a movie that would speak to the audience about the imperfections of relationships and, since Melvin is far from perfect and Carol, despite her caring nature, is not perfect either, he did a wonderful job of showing us love between two imperfect humans. The movie is definitely a comedy and a love story. I believe the director created an exceptional tale of friendship turned to love and did so in a very funny way.
As Good As It Gets was filmed in New York and the locations were very believable. I have never been to New York but could see that it was everything I would have expected of the city. The costumes were also believable and showed the relaxed attitudes of the scenes. I noticed that Melvin dressed in a more relaxed way than the other people at his editor's office dress and felt this fit his character's disposition. There was some music, soft and light, and Melvin even sang in a short scene with Carol. Overall, the music felt like it kept pace with the film's themes.
As Good As It Gets is a story that can make you laugh at the irony of it all and come away from feeling reassured that love will find a way, even in the least likely of places. The film reminded me of a true to life love story, one that is built on mutual care and compassion, instead of perfection. There is plenty to laugh about in the movie and it keeps you entertained throughout every scene, but it is not as whacky a comedy as some. The story keeps you interested as the comedy keeps you laughing. The actors gave exceptional performances and overall, the movie is a true gem for anyone looking to be entertained with an interesting, funny and touching story.