Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Warren Schmidt has led a safe, predictable life working in the insurance industry in Omaha, Nebr. for many years, yet now faces retirement. At the same time he is forced to take a hard look at his wife, his life and his relationship with his estranged daughter. An often hilarious series of events follow as Schmidt embarks on an unpredictable RV journey to attend his daughter's wedding in Denver. Written by
A scene that echoes Jack Nicholson's famous diner scene in Five Easy Pieces (his exchange with the waitress) was in an early cut of the movie in which Schmidt concedes in a cowardly fashion to the dictates of the waitress. Though the preview audience went wild over it, director Alexander Payne cut it from the final film because he felt that the scene was too much of a pointed reference to Nicholson's iconography and that something so referential took the audience out of the film. See more »
Scenes showing the University of Kansas are obviously not filmed in Kansas. The real Kansas buildings have red roofs with beige brick. See more »
[Warren is on top of the motor home under a starry night]
Helen, what did you really think of me, deep in your heart? Was I really the man you wanted to be with? Was I? Or were you disappointed and too nice to show it? I forgive you for Ray. I forgive you. That was a long time ago, and I know I wasn't always the king of kings. I let you down. I'm sorry, Helen. Can you forgive me? Can you forgive me?
[a shooting star passes by]
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A terrific film, featuring one of Nicholson's best performances
Jack Nicholson stars as a Warren Schmidt, a man who suffers several crises at once. First he goes into retirement, then his wife dies, and finally his daughter marries a no-hoper. Forced to abandon his usual comfortable routine, Schmidt goes on a personal journey of discovery and tries to make some sense of his life.
The beauty of About Schmidt is how well developed and interesting the characters are. They feel like real people struggling with real situations, which is a surprisingly difficult trick to pull off. This success can be attributed to the strength of the script and most importantly to the uniformly superb acting.
This film provides a showcase for Nicholson to display his talent, and he doesn't disappoint, delivering a superb and multi-layered turn, which is a world away from the smirking characters he often plays. He allows his face to droop, and adopts a world-weary expression, as Schmidt continually finds himself at the mercy of events.
One of Schmidt's first decisions when he determines to get out of the rut he finds himself in is to sponsor an African child. This doesn't have much to do with the rest of the plot, but provides an outlet for Schmidt's innermost thoughts, and is a brilliant and original way of allowing the audience inside the head of the central character.
About Schmidt succeeds in tackling the subject of old age, a topic not often addressed in mainstream Hollywood fare, and for that it should be applauded. This is a terrific film, which features Nicholson at his best.
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