Continuing the story of Aurora Greenway in her latter years. After the death of her daughter, Aurora struggled to keep her family together, but has one grandson in jail, a rebellious ... See full summary »
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 (1970) (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 »
Throughout the retirement dinner, Warren Schmidt is wearing a small gold pin on the left lapel of his suit jacket. When he arrives home from the function and takes the phone call from his daughter, the pin is missing. See more »
[On top of Winnebago at night talking to his dead wife]
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 but too nice to show it?
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I love Nicolson and I thought his work in this film was as good as any I have seen him do in any of his previous films. My accolades must begin with the writers for creating such a beautiful novel and script-a perfect canvas for the many fine actors in this film upon which they wove their considerable magic. There were no killings, no car chases, no violence of any kind-I'm surprised that Hollywood distributed it.
Such a slice of life-American life with it's many warts-warts that the Americans probably don't even recognize: Winnebagos like moving palaces, freeway monuments to genocide, business that consumes it's workers only to dump them unceremoniously, too much of everything that amounts to emptiness, etc., etc. The novel by Begley, upon which the film was based, illustrated this consumer emptiness brilliantly by the inclusion of the bookends to the film, the sponsorship of the Tanzanian child by Schmidt. The child's material emptiness was contrasted with Schmidt's emotional emptiness in a way America does not recognize much less watch on the screen.
The last part of the movie dealing with the marriage of Schmidt's daughter to a man who came from a diametrically opposite "new age" family was an unstated acknowledgment by his daughter that she wanted nothing of her father's values-she wanted a complete break and she was going to marry the break.
A fascinating, complex movie and I'm sorry I didn't see it much earlier.
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