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About Schmidt (2002)

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A man upon retirement, embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding, only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.

Director:

Alexander Payne

Writers:

Louis Begley (novel), Alexander Payne (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
3,656 ( 899)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 69 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... Warren Schmidt
Kathy Bates ... Roberta Hertzel
Hope Davis ... Jeannie Schmidt
Dermot Mulroney ... Randall Hertzel
June Squibb ... Helen Schmidt
Howard Hesseman ... Larry Hertzel
Harry Groener ... John Rusk
Connie Ray ... Vicki Rusk
Len Cariou ... Ray Nichols
Mark Venhuizen Mark Venhuizen ... Duncan Hertzel
Cheryl Hamada Cheryl Hamada ... Saundra
Phil Reeves ... Minister in Denver
Matt Winston ... Gary Nordin - Warren's Replacement
James M. Connor ... Randall's Best Man (as James Micheal Connor)
Jill Anderson Jill Anderson ... Bridesmaid Reading St. Paul
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Storyline

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 wacoastguy

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Schmidt Happens

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 January 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

About Schmidt See more »

Filming Locations:

Nebraska, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$282,367, 15 December 2002

Gross USA:

$65,016,287

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$105,834,556
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The church shown during the wedding rehearsal is in Boulder, Colorado, twenty miles northwest of Denver. The church can be seen on the right from U.S. Highway 36, just as you enter town. See more »

Goofs

The position of the purple napkin when Schmidt is being fed the soup in bed. See more »

Quotes

Warren Schmidt: [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?
See more »

Connections

References Easy Rider (1969) See more »

Soundtracks

Afrikaan Beat
(1962)
Written and Performed by Bert Kaempfert
Courtesy of Polydor GmbH, Hamburg
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

Alienated from life
5 November 2006 | by Ford-kpSee all my reviews

It is hard to recommend About Schmidt to anyone, without actually knowing that person. Not only does the story seem unconventionally uneventful to most of modern audiences, but it also moves with an unhurried patience that will let many viewers shift in their seats. It really depends on whether one can develop an interest to the film and its subject matter, which shows a retired man suddenly facing the void and meaninglessness of his existence.

About Schmidt moves slowly, but it moves with grace. The film's success is deeply in debt to Jack Nicholson, subordinating his personality to the character of Warren Schmidt. It must have been difficult for somebody like Nicholson to display the role's required lack of passion without letting Schmidt lose his human touch. Yet, his portrayal is excellent in its understatement, and his numerable supporting actors do not disappoint either. Fans of Nicholson will be assured in their belief, that their favourite is not only one of the best, but also one of the most versatile actors still working today.

Apart from the acting, director Alexander Payne's film is also well crafted. The somewhat saddened mood is only enhanced by documentary-like shots, constantly making us aware that what we witness is really an everyday-tragedy. The script shows intelligence, and although it contains many subtleties, most of them will not go unnoticed with attentive viewers. Even though About Schmidt is billed as a comedy, it really is a drama. Many of the humorous situations are more tragic than funny, and truly hilarious moments are rare occurrences.

I've often wondered whether the title of About Schmidt has been chosen with any clear intent. The German surname Schmidt equals Smith in English and is one of the most common. So about Schmidt could actually mean "About Everybody". Everybody can wake up one day and discover that everything he or she has devoted himself to, amounts to nothing. It's a frequent social phenomenon, that people suddenly wise up that their lives are almost over, without ever having fully lived them. Maybe that's how all the sea cruises and world tours of old pensioners can be accounted for. Like Schmidt, they are all making a desperate effort to catch up on a time that's long done and over with.

The film does not exactly give answers and, like in reality, does not end with any true revelations to escape all bleakness. But there is something it often likes to apply, namely the self explanatory power of irony. Like one time during the film, when Warren Schmidt decides to adopt a six-year old African foster child by mail. A cheque of twenty-two dollars, which he dutifully provides on a monthly basis, assures that little Ndugu can go to school, gets sheltered, fed and clothed. Yet, in one of his letters Warren writes to him: "What difference has my life made to anyone? None that I can think of. None...at all!"

Well, think again, Mr. Schmidt.


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