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As Good as It Gets
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Reviews & Ratings for
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138 out of 170 people found the following review useful:

How to create something out of nothing? Ask Mark Andrus and Jim L. Brooks

10/10
Author: matanovi (matanovi@yahoo.com) from Zagreb, Croatia
19 April 2000

Really, how to make something original, fresh and odd out of absolutely nothing except a few characters? Using characters, only characters and nothing except characters. That's the simple formula Brooks uses in all of his work, but, for me, he has never created so much charm, warmth and sensibility as he did in `As good as it gets'.

Characters write the screenplay in this movie, and everything that happens - happens because of what they are. They are nothing special – they are ordinary people we meet in the street every day and that have the same problems a lot of other people have. This movie presents the example of how much you can pull out of that. And if that is written as well as it is in this case, not even a happy ending can bother you. Because, in real life, shown here, what is the end?

Everything is good and warm in this movie, everything is fresh and vivacious, understandable and well performed. Jack Nicholson brings one of the best performances of his career, that terrific Helen Hunt finally got a chance to show how skilfully an actor can connect naturalism with the laws of the camera performance, and Greg Kinnear shows the most convincing emotions coming from a gay character I've ever seen.

The relationships between the characters are created in the way that you can't predict anything that's going to happen, eventhough you know in advance what could come out of their mouth and what kind of attitude they'll have in a certain situation.

You can simply feel the progressive collaboration that occurred between Brooks and the actors and the mutual understanding they developed, and it's not often that you see that kind of artistic superstructure shining on the screen so much as it does here.

I find `As good as it gets' complexed, vital, intelligent, emotionally deep and studied, fresh, original, amusing, cheerful, funny, and one of the best films of 1997.

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107 out of 138 people found the following review useful:

As Good as Romantic Comedies Get

10/10
Author: CurtMan@LVCM.com from Las Vegas, NV
18 October 2004

"As Good As It Gets" boasts a splendid, delightful combination of wonderful, zesty acting and a remarkably bright and effective screenplay. Jack Nicholson is pitch-perfect as the obsessive-compulsive curmudgeon Melvin Udall, who possesses some of the strangest and most curious tendencies ever concocted by screenwriters; his Udall is so human, so heartfelt, so genuine, and so whimsical and Nicholson perfects him to such a degree that not a moment of his screen time is unwanted or uninteresting: in my valid opinion, this is Nicholson's best performance of his career, and one of the most reverent performances in film history. What an engaging, enthralling story: an troubled, insecure man helps a troubled, insecure waitress (troubled and insecure in different respects), and the two form an unlikely relationship from being distant acquaintances (Hunt even exclaims that Nicholson is crazy in their most uncomfortable moment in the film) to practical soul mates (Nicholson to Hunt: "I feel that I'm the only person that knows that you are the greatest woman alive"), through a series of misfortunes, self-explorations, and mutual bondings. Kinnear's character Simon has the distinct purpose in being both the bridge and the divider of Nicholson and Hunt's relationship, and he identifies with his character with compassion and understanding, as he has frequently been wronged throughout his existence. The most curious aspect to a story such as this, involving such unduly, diverse characters: a miserable recluse, a zesty, yet insecure waitress, and a sensitive and insightful, yet wronged homosexual, is that in their distinct differences, they share many of the same problems, and these problems eventually bring them all together, although hardly in a civilized manner. I appreciated practically every element in this wonderful, delightful masterpiece of exemplary romantic comedy, in its indelible acting (Oscars well deserved), its whimsical, touching screenplay (This was neons above "Good Will Hunting"'s quality) and its comforting morale, that despite all of the great odds in life which prevent us from being happy, we can perhaps find it within ourselves to take that one important step in reversing our fortunes, in "stopping with taking pills" and to allow our lives, and our desires to shine and be realized, as this story depicts life. The best romantic comedy, certainly the best film of 1997, and one of the greatest films of all time, "As Good As It Gets" succeeds in practically every entertaining and endearing cinematic respect. **** out of ****

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71 out of 95 people found the following review useful:

This comedy is as good as it gets!

10/10
Author: Ian Harrison from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
14 February 1999

Comedies (especially romantic comedies) can only be judged by how much they make you laugh and if they make you feel good inside. As Good As It Gets does it for me every time. I'm not just saying this on account of being a "Jack fan." The characters are so beautifully drawn, you forget it's just Jamie from "Mad About You" (Helen Hunt) and the man with the eyebrows (Nicholson). This movie deserved all of its Oscars, and then some. The role of an obsessive-compulsive is an easy one to parody and mock to death, but Jack does it with style, humour, emotion, and that usual Nicholson flair. Hunt has never been better as a waitress with a major anxiety to do something for herself for a change. Greg Kinnear is also very good as a gay artist that ends up having to turn to the irascible Jack for help after he is scarred and left destitute following a break-in. This is such a special comedy, fresh from the pen of James L. Brooks, the man behind the wonderful Terms of Endearment (another wonderful Nicholson performance) and Broadcast News. As Good As It Gets made me feel so good, even though I couldn't really relate to the characters' situations. The humor is pure Jack, set to the script with perfect ease. The emotions evoked by the actors are also authentic and heart-felt, as if they love what they are acting out. Movies like this come few and far between, and that is the reason why I appreciate this film so very much. As Good As It Gets was one of the best films of 1997. Rating: Four stars.

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63 out of 88 people found the following review useful:

A superior Hollywood piece of sentimentality

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
27 January 2003

Melvin is a romantic novelist who is a selfish manic compulsive who is rude and insulting to all he meets. When Melvin's gay neighbour is beaten up and robbed, Melvin agrees to look after his dog. The dog gives Melvin something to care about other than himself and his life is approaching normal until his regular waitress has to leave work to look after her asthmatic son and his neighbour wants his dog back. Melvin starts to realise that his life needs others for more than just selfish reasons.

The big Oscar winner for Jack is recent years is enjoyable if you come to it knowing what to expect. The film is very sentimental but in a good way. The film is gently comic and amusing and the characters (although exaggerated) are winning and involving. The telling is a little long winded at times and the film could have been shorter but it is still enjoyable. It does tip over into sickly sentimentality at times and can be a bit syrupy but it comes with the territory.

Nicholson is excellent and is the main reason it all works well. His un-PC Melvin is funny but also a character that you can hate and pity on several occasions. Kinnear is good because he is a solid understated character and not hammy or OTT like he can be. Hunt is good but is left with the majority of the syrup and sentiment where the other characters get more share of the laughs. Gooding Jr continues his trend of being good in over the top roles and is funny and happily avoids becoming a flaming gay stereotype.

Overall this is a sentimental romantic comedy that is typical for the genre. The story wanders to it's point but the good cast, led by a great Nicholson, hold the whole thing together. A superior piece of sentimentality.

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49 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Way to go, Jack!

Author: Star-47 from Naples, Florida
19 December 1998

Jack Nicholson is simply phenomenal. Yes, I will give credit where it is due and congratulate Greg Kinnear, Helen Hunt, and Cuba Gooding, Jr, on their fine performances. They are talented. But I am mesmorized by Jack's intricate facial expressions and inflection each time I see this movie.

Critics panned this movie for being totally unbelievable. I would have to agree-why would Carol fall for Melvin? Why does Melvin change his ways after so many years of acid-tongued insults? I don't know. I know people who disliked the film because Melvin was such a you-know-what. Personally, I love the evil retorts he hurls at any innocent bystander. Maybe it's a sick pleasure, but Nicholson's delivery is perfect and I couldn't help but laugh as he takes on everyone.

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41 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

When Jack's on screen, you can almost never go wrong!

8/10
Author: MovieLuvaMatt from New Jersey
1 August 2003

Jack Nicholson is one of those actors who impresses me the second (and I'm not overstating in the least bit) he appears on screen. The moment I see Jack's face on screen, I get this feeling that everything's going to be all right. He could do a Pauly Shore film, and elevate its quality with his mere presence. And I didn't even get to his acting.

Nicholson won a well-deserved Oscar for this movie. Then again, I feel like he deserves an Oscar for virtually everything he's been in. Hell, you can even give him an Oscar nod for "Anger Management." THAT'S how great he is! He's one of those actors who can communicate even more emotion when he's not saying anything than when he is. And of course, he has one of the coolest movie star voices ever, so it makes it a joy whenever he does speak. I still feel like "You can't handle the truth!" wouldn't be as priceless a line if Jack didn't yell it. He can say almost any line of dialogue and turn it into gold. In this movie it was "You make me wanna be a better man." Again, an otherwise forgettable line of dialogue made gold by Jack.

"As Good As It Gets" is a flawed film, with scenes that drag and an overlong running time, but it's highly enjoyable and altogether pretty well-written. Aside from its many hilarious moments, it's also quite touching. But I have to admit that it's the comedy that sticks out most in my memory. There's some priceless gags like when a Jewish couple is sitting at Jack's usual table. He first intrudes into their conversation saying, "People who speak in metaphors oughtta shampoo my crotch." He complains to Helen Hunt, his usual waitress, saying "I have Jews at my table!" He then intrudes in the couple's conversation again, noticing the food on their table, saying "Obviously your appetites aren't as big as your noses." Now, I probably wouldn't want to personally know a man like Melvin in my real life, but I still found those cracks to be hysterically funny. The same when he attacks Greg Kinnear's gay character with constant homosexual slurs.

The performances are great all-around. Though Jack pretty much steals the show, Greg Kinnear gives a wonderfully endearing performance. He doesn't play out the gay stereotypes, yet he's sensitive and feminine enough to have me convinced that he is gay (unlike Eric McCormack on "Will and Grace" who acts like he's gay for the sake of the show's gimmick). It's nice to see Kinnear rise from the host of "Talk Soup" and the thankless late night talk show "Later" to a fine actor. Previously, I wouldn't have any notion that he could become what he is now. Helen Hunt also gives a compelling, emotionally packed performance. And Shirley Knight, as her mother, provides a little bit of comic relief. Cuba Gooding Jr. has a small but interesting role, and he makes the best of it.

The film does have its dull moments, but Jack's one-of-a-kind performance makes it all worthwhile. There is nobody, and I mean NOBODY, who could've played Melvin better than him. I read in the trivia that John Travolta was originally offered the role. Now, I like Travolta, but in this type of role he wouldn't hold a candle to Jack.

My score: 7 (out of 10)

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57 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

Unusual movie

7/10
Author: krumski from Cincinnati, Ohio
17 February 2000

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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37 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Simply great

9/10
Author: Bjorn (ODDBear) from Iceland
19 September 2005

As Good As It Gets is one of those incredibly moving films that is also hugely entertaining. It's not just a comedy, you can't quite label it a drama piece, it just is what it is; simply great.

What works here so well are the actors and the script. Nicholson and Hunt both won Oscars and they're simply great but Kinnear is no less effective as Nicholson gay neighbour. Plus that dog is amazing as well. This film really relies on great performances and there's no shortage of that here.

As Good As It Gets is also remarkably well written. So well defined characters and completely involving, you quite simply grow to love them and sympathize with their plight. Nicholson's remarks are terrific, each one very quotable (personal fav; I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability).

Direction is first rate, Brooks made Terms of Endearment so it's well established that he's quite capable of making great films. As Good As It Gets is very nearly as good it gets.

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47 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

This almost all Oscar winner cast gives such a great performance that it makes it almost impossible not to love this movie in its entirety!

9/10
Author: Rosemea D.S. MacPherson from US
21 May 1999

Directed by Oscar nominee James L. Brooks, the story written by Mark Andrus brings up not only very interesting characters but also very interesting issues. I have the video and enjoy watching it. The CD is great with music of Nat King Cole, Shawn Colkin. Outstanding acting by Helen Hunt (Mad About You, Twister) who won an Oscar for this role where she plays Carol Connelly, a single mother, working as waitress in Manhattan, New York. A single parent trying to cope with her work and paying medical bills for son Spencer Connelly, played by Jesse James (Message in a Bottle, The Gingerbread Men, Gods and Monsters). Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men, Easy Rider, Witches of Eastwick) is Melvin Udall who is an obsessive compulsive. Nicholson also won an Oscar for his part. His obsessive compulsiveness has taken over his life and he is not able to live a normal life. Melvin Udall has tons of soap all organized in his medicine cabinet. He uses a bar of soap once and then throws it out. He will not step on a crack on the side walk but skips to the next block of concrete. When he goes to the restaurant he brings his own plastic fork, knife and spoon in a plastic bag. Udall uses plastic gloves to hold the dog and has all his office supply stacked and all color coordinated in his home/office. He eats at the same restaurant, sits at the same table, if someone is seating at his table he insults them to make them leave so that he has his table back, wants the same waiter Carol to wait on him, and takes forever to take a shower. He closes his door several times and counts how many times he has done it. As a writer who works at home I do understand Mr. Udall really well. Writers think somewhat like this: we like to be alone with ourselves in order to think. We have to go inside ourselves to produce good work. It is a very isolated world. We do not like to be bothered unless we are bored, or tired, in which case we want to communicate with the outside world for a brief period of time, then after one hour or so we want to go back inside ourselves again and be left alone. This is somehow like Melvin thinks. People think that he has nothing to do and they keep knocking at his door and he gets really aggravated about that. He is my favorite character in this movie, not to diminish the other ones. He is just so full on nuances that make him very entertaining. Helen's role is very, very, good and she did a really good job with it. Greg Kinnear (Sabrina) is Simon Bishop, the artist who is Udall's next door neighbor who finally has Melvin turning into a little more normal human being and he is there to teach him many life lessons. The supporting actors are great, you have Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire) playing Frank Sachs, Simon's agent.

My favorite scenes: elementary school kids all in uniform screaming: "Wait! Melvin, wait"! Greg Kinnear imitating Melvin. Melvin and Caroll going to eat fresh rolls in the wee hours of the morning. When Melvin realizes that the dog is also skipping cracks on the sidewalk.

My favorite quote: "I am drowning here and you are describing the water." This is a nice story telling movie. I recommend it!

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15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful

8/10
Author: bsinc from Ljubljana, Slovenia
16 March 2002

Now I know what good acting means. You are absolutely surrounded with it in this movie. There is not a single actor or actress in this movie that didn't exceed himself/herself. Helen Hunt is great (I don;t know why, but I find her quite attractive) and I won't bore you about the performance given by Jack Nicholson. When I first saw this movie I thought it was really boring and overrated, but I saw it again the second day and immediately loved it. Maybe the ending is a little bogus, but it's a romantic comedy, so it didn't bother me that much. A fairly complicated plot presented with ease and simplicity works perfectly and there's a nostalgic tone to the movie in whole. Maybe because it's a rare occasion nowadays to come across a movie that isn't stuffed with special effects. This is a movie that should be seen on a beautiful day, when you're in a good mood.

Great fun that keeps getting better and better each time I see it. A strong 8/10.

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