After being cut from the USA softball team and feeling a bit past her prime, Lisa finds herself evaluating her life and in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current, baseball-playing beau.
New York City. Melvin Udall, a cranky, bigoted, obsessive-compulsive writer, finds his life turned upside down when neighboring gay artist Simon is hospitalized and his dog is entrusted to Melvin. In addition, Carol, the only waitress who will tolerate him, must leave work to care for her sick son, making it impossible for Melvin to eat breakfast. Written by
Jon Reeves <email@example.com>
This movie is bizarre because, while judged overall its story is shmaltzy and unbelievable, nevertheless each individual scene plays absolutely convincingly and feels very real. It's weird. I don't know if it's just the greatness of the actors overcoming an under-thought out script, or whether it's just the script concentrated solely on crafting great scenes one after the other, but not so much in coming up with a convincing through-line. Whatever. All I know is that this is one of the most entertaining pictures I've ever seen, extremely funny and quite emotionally affecting in places. Somehow, it just doesn't matter - I like it anyway.
The performances are uniformly excellent. Nicholson shows real range here - sure, he gets to be the sarcastic curmudgeon we've all come to expect, but his character also has moments of fear, repression and vulnerability which he brings off equally well. My problem with this character (and the "problem" only exists as I think about him afterward, not while I'm actually watching the movie) is in his conception: he seems to be whatever the writers want him to be at that moment, with no particular consistency from scene to scene so when he supposedly "changes" at the end, we're left to think, "Change? This guy's been changing through the entire movie!" And also, the fact that his character is a romance novelist is never really explained or examined in any way.
And yet, Nicholson's performance makes it not matter quite so much.
Helen Hunt is a revelation in this movie - she nails every scene she's in, whether she's forced to be witty, embarrassed, angry, defiant, emotionally overwhelmed, whatever. She keeps Jack on his toes, and they work off each other brilliantly. Also, I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but Greg Kinnear was great as Simon, the gay neighbor. (It was also nice to see director Harold Ramis - the third Ghostbuster, after all - in front of the camera again, if only briefly, in a small part as a doctor.)
What more can I say? Good comedy, good love story, great acting. None of it, in the end, is very convincing, but if you just focus on the individual moments and not on the grand design - a task made easy by the wonderful writing and playing - it's very easy to like As Good As It Gets.
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