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Enormous emotional impact.
MrVibrating11 December 2005
This is the saddest movie I've seen in years, maybe in my entire life. People who say it's comedy are dead wrong. It's a realistic, brutally true example of a failed life, and it's so tragic.

Nicholson plays Warren Schmidt, an insurance salesman, whose life crashes down on him when he retires. Nicholson, someone I've loved ever since I first saw him, gives his best performance since "One flew over the cuckoos nest". He's so subtle, so sad, so hollow. You don't doubt for a second that he is Schmidt. He has let his body age for the role, which makes him even more real.

Alexander Payne's direction is flawless. Everyone, simply everyone, does a great job portraying the various characters, from the hotshot newly educated young man who takes Schmidt's job, to the embarrassing buddy of Schmidt's daughter's fiancé.

This is a must-see movie. Even if you hate Jack in all his other movies, you will love him in this one. Don't expect a "hilarious comedy", though. This is a thoughtful movie and not "Anger Management".

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The poetry of deceit and loneliness
Ana_Banana13 August 2005
This film must be watched very carefully. If you're not paying enough attention to it, you would miss it (some did). It's in the frames, the atmosphere, the tiny details, the situations, the acting, everything. But it's not that obvious, unless you enter that world. Simple story? Sure. Life is simple. So is great art. All in all, "About Schmidt" is a really great film. Bitter humor, all-pervading lie, the infinite sadness of loneliness and failure, sincere egoism, everyday dullness, desperate and quiet hope - this is life, and in a non-blatant, nor melodramatic manner. But you're going to weep (and smile) at the ending (I did!). And one more question: is The Mulholland Man the greatest actor ever or not?
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Alienated from life
Ford-kp5 November 2006
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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A terrific film, featuring one of Nicholson's best performances
eagle_owl24 October 2005
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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simply beautiful
f-main24 November 2004
I was dubious when my 65 year old father picked this DVD up from the shelf at Blockbuster. "Great choice dad!", secretly wondering why I let him pick 2 films out of the 3 in the special offer they had going. You see, my father has a penchant for Woody Allen and anybody who has a rather dry sense of humour, this includes Nicholson.

We sat down tonight, and the first thing that hit me was the way that the film was shot. It is shot using rather blue and green hues, so the film is rather subdued. Secondly, the music stands out. Instead of using a typical 'boohoo' orchestra, the film uses beautiful wandering piano and marimba sounds.

The characters, I could easily relate to. Helen, the faithful wife who is excited about getting to spend a new chapter of her life with her husband. The husband, who obeys his wife but secretly resents it. A sudden change which causes a rethink in everything he has done up until that point.

At first, this appeared to be a comedy, but it was soon revealed to be a beautifully poignant film. Throughout, it questions mortality, what you can achieve in life, and how to cope with loss, or change. I don't think I have ever cried as much in 2 hours as I did during this film, and yet at the same time laughed so hard that my sides were splitting.

I would thoroughly recommend anybody to watch this film. It will stay with you for a long time.
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Life's quirks
diane-341 September 2004
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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Life Is A Joke
alexkolokotronis28 June 2009
Of course we would hope that is not the case but watching a movie like this certainly puts the idea of life into question. This is a funny movie but looking back its probably not quite the kind of jokes you appreciate laughing at.

In the lead role as Warren Schmidt is none other then Jack Nicholson, with an already astute résumé, only further strengthens his long career with his subtle and charming performance. The charm never wears off with the audience as Schmidt's morals and interest for the most part stay in place in his heart and mind. Unfortunately in the tale of Schmidt in the film not only does his charm wear off but he is seen as a liability by those who he thought of as his loved ones. His life takes this crash when he retires from his career and an insurance agent. Soon after he realizes he may have wasted his entire life away. The downward spiral of his life and his sense of purpose hangs on the thread of a boy he has never even met.

As subtle as Nicholson's performance is, so is the writing. It is quietly very witty which almost inconspicuously gives off a whole lot of cynicism. Along with Alexander Payne writing the screenplay he directed the film as well. The movie is certainly not all style and why should it be when that could possibly be the only thing that could really hurt this film. The film is about humanity in a raw and complex way, sometimes the best method of showing this is through simplicity to the point where you are almost certain there is something else that lies behind the curtain of it all.

There is no doubt I would recommend this film but don't expect a pure comedy. Instead try and take a fresh and real look at the entire movie and the events that take place. Depending on who you are, you may find certain points of this movie to be either sorrowful and dejected or slightly uplifting and optimistic. Just don't make a heartless joke of it, because none of us want to think of our life as that; a joke.
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Classic Cinema Art - A "Must See" Film!
trgusa8 April 2006
I spent a day watching "About Schmidt", with Jack Nicholson... and then the evening rambling through reviews, since my wife's perception of the ending differed somewhat from mine....

Conflict can often lead to enlightenment and discovery, but not so in the case of Warren Schmidt. In his case it leads to a life of complacency, denial, delusion, and passive-aggressive behaviors... and eventually, to a meaningless life of servitude devoid of passion or purpose.

Since my wife and I are around the same age as the character, and we ponder the same issues of our lives, the film had more significance to us. I found the work to be a cinema-graphic piece of art laced with symbolism and dark humor (at best). I likened it to previous movies like "Death of a Salesman", "The Apartment", "The Swimmer" (Burt Lancaster), or a short filmed called "The Bridge".

As a cautionary tale (or social comment) on the "American Way" of life, the messages it conveys are slightly exaggerated, but nevertheless there to be debated. We are talking about identity, achievement, interpersonal relationships, and the "average IQ".

In the end, I believe this film will become one that is studied in future classrooms, and it was brave of Nicholson to participate in such a character study and a work intended primarily for writers, actors, and directors. If laughter is "the sound we make when we are surprised (or shocked) by the truth", then the amount of humor you find in this film may be directly related to your own level of naivety or denial. After all, laughter can often be just another defense mechanism, right?

Some movies are straightforward, some are magical, some are mystical, and then, some are symbolic. This movie falls into the last category. The use of time, space, cognitive dissonance, and Irony abound in this work and challenge us to look, think, and feel.

Notes: we would have cut or altered the "Percodan scene" at the rehearsal (as overdone), also note- the cattle at the funeral who later appear on the freeway, inside jokes about Des Moines and Denver, Randall's "Certificate of Attendance", the look on Jeannie's face at the end of Warren's speech at the Wedding Reception, the use of "overstatement", details of wall decorations, and Warren's obvious attraction to the trite, idealistic, delusional, and superficial.

If you are a thinking, feeling, serious movie-lover, you should SEE this film once, and then STUDY it the 2nd time!
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Great note on appreciating what you have while still have it
jbonzon28 November 2003
This is an inspiring story. It teaches me so much about what is important in life. Jack Nicholson, with a great performance as Warren R. Schmidt is an example of an American middle class after retiring. For many years he has worked as an actuary at a big insurance company. After retiring, Jack at home, while watching television, he decides to sponsor a six years old boy (Ndugu) from Tanzania. Sending a check of US$ 22,00 every month, he is also required to write a letter to the boy. In the process of writing these letters, he vents out to the boy about his life frustrations, his lost dreams and the dilemma he is in. He is married for forty-two years with his wife Helen (June Squibb) and he has a daughter living in Denver, Jeannie Schmidt (Hope Davis) who will marry a looser pretty soon. He misses his daughter. A few days after his retirement, his wife dies, and Jack realizes how important the wife was in his life now even though he never appreciated her. The director of the movie, Alexander Payne takes the audiences with Jack on a trip in a trailer to visit specific places in America. He mainly makes Jack visit the places where he has been before physically but at the same time Jack was revisiting his own life inside. In this trip he realizes what really matters in life - friendship, family and sharing- then why it is important to appreciate them whenever you have a chance.

In 'Citizen Kane' (1941), the director Orson Welles portrays the same idea when creating Mr. Kane. The movie is more than the story of a tycoon's rise and fall; it is an account of what is ultimately important in a person's life. Even though Kane attains riches and prestige, he is far from happy. He ends with two failed marriages and few friends. At his dying bed, all he has left is his reminiscences - and something called "Rosebud." In 'About Schmidt' the director Alexander Payne uses voiceover to convey Jack's thoughts and memories throughout the movie. To be specific it is when Jack is writing a letter to the boy he sponsors - (Ndugu), at the same time Payne is informing the audience about Jack's regrets and pain concerning his wife and daughter while the movie is still rolling on. I think this is a great technique.I believe this has been a great adventure and wake up call to many Americans as to what is important in life and why we should cherish every moment of it.
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Stick around: the last 10 sec is one of the greatest moments in cinema
rooprect20 July 2013
I'm always floored by a powerful ending, particularly one without words. Japanese films are known for it, my faves being "The Summer of Kikujiru" (2000), "Sway" (2006) and the Kurosawa masterpiece "To Live" (1952). It takes a bold filmmaker to end without words, and if successful, the impact on the audience is staggering. Without ruining anything, I'll just tell you that "About Schmidt" pulls a real ace out of its sleeve in the final moments, unexpected yet perfect, and the delivery by Jack Nicholson is one of those moments that asserts how nobody but Jack could have pulled it off.

Well, maybe Christopher Walken, but that goes without saying.

Other reviewers have reacted to this film with everything from hysterical laughter to utter despair. While I didn't experience either of the two, I came away with a feeling of total satisfaction, like I just learned something profound and eye-opening. "About Schmidt" is an underdog story but with a message unlike any I've seen in a while. If you focus on the underdog part of the story, then yes, you might think this is a sad film. But if you dig under the surface, you may find it beautifully inspiring. In that respect, it's like many of the classic underdog stories that leave audiences either dancing or despondent. It's entirely up to you.

This is a slow-paced film, so if you're looking for something breezy and snappy, you won't find it here. The comedy is extremely subtle, so there aren't many LOL moments. But like a good satire, characters and situations are so bizarre and inappropriate that you can't resist a few chuckles. The pacing and delivery reminded me of the subdued Adam Sandler character in "Punch Drunk Love" or the equally low-key Tom Hanks in "Joe Vs the Volcano", two surreal comedies I highly recommend. Jack Nicholson, I realize now, is a great deadpan comedian, owing largely to his slightly sinister presence even when he's playing a harmless old man.

His role as retiree Warren Schmidt is definitely one of his tamer performances. But egads, the ending brings it all together with a powerful message we all should remember. I highly recommend this film to people of all ages, particularly those who often ask themselves, as the character Warren Schmidt does: "What in the world is better because of me?" Watch the movie, and it may help you answer that cosmic question for yourself.
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Forrest Gump Meets the Conversation
intuitive79 January 2003
About Schmidt is Forrest Gump through the lens of Sartre or Camus. Warren Schmidt has a handicap, but it's the same handicap most of the people standing on line at seven p.m. at your local Wendy's have. The real star (or anti-star) of About Schmidt is the mediocre architectural landscape of America. Every room or box Warren Schmidt enters in this movie is as devoid of caring and vitality as he is: the retirement banquet room, Warren's house, the tire store, the hired wedding reception room. Schmidt's director and production designer take care to place us in the same life-draining, cheap structures we inhabit and deal with everyday. No prettifying. This is the drab landscape of Fargo revisited, but without the irony. The steady doses of violence in Fargo allowed you an escape route. But there's nothing ironical about a wasted life and a 66 year old widower spinning his wheels in the same rut, now partnerless and foundering. The combination of Jack, this story and these settings is effective and compelling. The result would be, I think, inevitable. The tone and attitude is not consistently managed, even by Nicholsen, whose worn-out, mannered schtick pops up occasionally. Yet the final effect is impossible to fend off: mundane American hell with droll comedic diversion. We experience a downfall as poignant as the smell of bacon cooking in Denny's at eight a.m.

Like Forrest Gump, the film depends on extensive voice over narration, V.O'd by Nicholsen as letters to Schmidt's newly adopted six year old Tanzanian foster child. Through these ridiculous sharings of sextagenarian angst with an African boy, we register Schmidt's internal grievances - thoughts we would never know about otherwise without his commentary. The slow dragging score drains vitality from each transition, as if cinematic momentum would be antithetical to the point of the tale. Back and forth we rock from a single minor chord to a second one, getting nowhere. The mood, the landscape, the buildings, the people say it all: Schmidt's on the road, but he might as well be sitting home in his lay-z-boy. The cushy bucket seat of a 35 foot Winnebago makes a good substitute.

Casting Jack Nicholson may have been the only way this story could have come to the screen. I've racked my brain to think of one other actor who could have pulled Schmidt off. Tony Hopkins? Not with the same comedic finesse. Gene Hackman reprising his role in Coppola's The Conversation or doing his Tennenbaum hamming? Don't think so. Only Jack has the mix. He does some hilarious bits in this, but overall the mood is somber, glum, inert. Can this be how that other famous Warren from Nebransas - Mr. Buffet - lives?

I was confused, amused, depressed and wierdly disoriented by About Schmidt as I left the theater. I commented that it wasn't a film I'd go see again. Thinking about it a day later, I'd hold to that IF it meant returning to the theater and paying. BUT - were I to run across About Schmidt on cable, I doubt I could tear myself away from it any more than I could from a crack up at the Indy 500. And I think that chance encounter might happen more than once, maybe for years. After all, this is the America I know and mark time in myself. A recommended film going experience.
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Wonderful film
noelwilde29 May 2006
On the DVD box, "hilarious" "a very funny movie". This was not the film I watched, I don't know what mentality these reviewers have, but certainly not the same as mine. I found this to be a wonderful film about a man who retires and whose plans are scuppered when his wife dies suddenly. His journey of self discovery and his concern over the marriage of his daughter to someone totally unsuitable. It shows that no matter how unremarkable life can be at times, this itself is remarkable. Nicholson's performance is stunning, as is Kathy Bates, and Dermot Mulroney as the future son in law is a joy to watch. I must make a special mention about the cinematography (James Glennon) which is as stunning as it is simple, just pay attention to it when you watch the film.
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Jack Nicholson deserved the Golden Globe he won!
UniqueParticle22 May 2019
I don't know how this is considered a comedy - definitely one of the saddest pieces of art I've seen. Among one of Jack's best performances and Alexander Payne did an exquisite job directing; plus the cinematography is beautiful & it's written with great substance. Lovely movie - very much for adults though!
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OUR rehearsals for retirement....
dbdumonteil19 April 2006
Jack Nicholson is part of these unique actors who are not afraid of playing demeaning parts.While most of his peers in their sixties/seventies are still playing heroes ,see what he does.He has almost never played the brilliant-lawyer-with-good-prospects.Two examples :"one flew over the cuckoo's nest" and the overlooked "Ironweed" which almost nobody knows and which paired him with an equally extraordinary Meryl Streep.

"About Schmidt" is a very good film,cause it succeeds in blending comedy and drama.And this drama involves US ,cause like Schmidt we are all potentially retired people .We are afraid of losing our job for good (the scene when Nicholson returns to his office is revealing),we are afraid to live with a partner getting old (who's THAT old woman living in my house?) ,we try to enlighten our children for fear they might go astray (and the daughter's family-in-law has nothing to recommend them)... and most of all,we are afraid of this: when you reach 65,you take stock of your life and you realize it's an unfulfilled one.Then you live in the past conditional.

That's why the little African boy is so important;although we never see him ,he's a character in the story: a confident ,and finally,when Nicholson begins to cry,the one thing he can be proud of.The letters he writes to his foster child provides the movie with an unusually inventive use of the voice over.

There are numerous memorable scenes:my favorite is Nicholson's speech during the wedding meal:his attitude is in direct contrast to the praises he says to everyone ,particularly to his daughter's mother-in-law ( Kathy Bates is sensational).

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Americana in a Can
phatdan8 May 2006
Schmidt is a typical, white, middled-aged American, and, though somewhat happily married and recently retired from a successful career, has yet to experience a truly fulfilling life. He is in fact, "a sad, sad man," to quote a line from the film.

And this is the film's premise: The American dream, when realized, can have little to do with happiness. Schmidt has yet to achieve contentment, even after years of hard work and dedication. Eventually he will stumble upon it through his tears, but not before he takes us for a hysterical ride in his RV(a clichéd symbol of middle-class success), westward to Denver and his future in-laws; with short stops at cynicism, loneliness, and desperation, and finally home again to Omaha, meaning, and newly realized contentment.

The acting, writing, and music in this film, are each by themselves, worth possessing.
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A great study of the human aging
peqdavid513 April 2009
Dear Ndugu: I watched a very good film today called "About Schmidt". I must say that it's one of the most original comedies of all time. Now, you may ask why am I saying this. Well, there are certain aspects that I found that made this film successful. Of course there's the superb performance of our dear old friend Jack Nicholson (I think it's one of his greatest roles along "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Shining"). Secondly, we have the good pace and rhythm that Alexander Payne gives to the movie. Then we have an extraordinary screenplay based on a great book. What else can yo ask from a film? I hope that, when you grow up, after having survived all those problems of the African nations, you'll know how to appreciate movies like this, and I hope this film maintains as a landmark on cinematic history. Sincerely yours, David Muñoz, your fan.

P.S. My rating: ****1/2 out of 5
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a tear jerker
frisco7530 March 2006
I loved this movie because anyone can relate to what Jack Nicholson's character goes through. No matter what your age, we all go through periods in our lives where we experience the same type of distress and sorrow and so this movie made me realize something that I already knew but it was basically confirmed. Age is just a number which tells us how long we have been on this earth. It is not an indication of how much knowledge we have or if we are superior or inferior to others. We should not be defined by our ages whether you are considered to be "older", "old", "younger", and/or "young". Tragically, this is not something that the average person may see when viewing this film, they may just see it as a film about an"old guy who goes through life's ups and downs"!!!!
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One of the best but overlooked movies
lover10130 October 2005
This hit theaters, and then was gone in a puff. This movie is great in its telling of a story that is absolutely plausible in real life. There is conflict and the tale of a man facing three major life changes... all at once. Jack Nicholson plays the main character masterfully. At times, he is so pathetic, you can't help but laugh. But you also feel for him too. It is one character I think most people can feel close to.

The movie has a great and emotional ending. The thread throughout the movie is magnificent and powerful.

One of the best ever!

Highly recommend. (Especially if you are of retirement age).
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bat211115 April 2004
This film was a masterpiece. It even shows that Nicholson is able to act unusually. We are used to him as grinning a man with pointed irony and sarcasm. But in the role of Warren Schmidt he did not use this specific talent just to entertain us but to open our mind for the possibly deep emptiness of people who call somewhere in their life and recognize that they aren't as rich as they are supposed to be. Schmidt tries to convince the audience that a full life should be the goal instead of just living without being aware of the own role. This can give a very positive motivation for every age.
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Easily the best film of 2002...
MovieAddict201630 May 2003
"About Schmidt" is a quirky, offbeat comedy about a man and his journey to find meaning to his life. Its name is true; "About Schmidt" is about...well...a man named Schmidt.

Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) is your average Joe. Or, in this case, your average Warren. He lives a normal life. He has just retired at the age of sixty-seven, and he now stays at home with his wife, who Schmidt states he is growing tired of. He's tired of having to do everything his wife, Helen, tells him to do. He's tired of her cutting him off when he's talking. He's tired of the way she sits down. He's tired of the way she pulls out the keys to the car before they're even out the door. And he's tired of having to sit down when he goes to the bathroom.

In a letter to Ntugu (his new "adopted" sponsor child), Warren spills his beans about life. That same day he comes home from mailing a letter to Ntugu, to find his wife, dead on the floor. We learn later that she died from a blood clot in her brain.

Left on his own, Warren realizes how good his wife was, and how much he misses her. But then he finds out that twenty-five to thirty years ago she had an affair with an old friend of his, and in one of the most subtley funny moments in the film, dumps off her old belongings at a donation center.

Warren, still missing his wife but truly bitter at what she did, eventually decides to go visit his daughter in the south, and packs up the 35-foot-long Winnebago with everything he needs. His daughter, who is about to be married to a complete loser, has different ideas, and tells Warren once he is on the road that it would be best if they stick to the plan and he comes down two days before the wedding. Left with about a week before the wedding, Warren takes a road trip back down memory lane. He visits his old childhood home - which is now a tire store. "This is where the bedroom would've been," he tells a clerk, who looks on in awe.

After that, Warren one way or another ends up eating dinner with a couple from the RV park he's staying in. When the husband goes out to get more beer, the woman says that she sees a sad, sad man in Warren. Afraid and angry.

Once Warren arrives for the wedding, he realizes that his daughter is happy with the man she is about to marry, no matter how much of a loser he is. And in a scene that could have been played for laughs but wasn't (which is good in this case, making deep characters instead of flimsy ones), Warren makes a toast to his daughter and her new husband.

And then Warren goes home. It's the end of the movie already. Not much has happened, and Warren tells Ntugu that his life has no point. His life has no meaning. Why go on? But then he gets a letter, and in the sense of "It's a Wonderful Life," Warren sees the meaning in his life.

"About Schmidt" isn't for everyone. People that cannot tolerate slow-moving films should not see this. Those that cannot appreciate characters that are deep, but yet still funny, should not see this movie. If people want a Jack Nicholson movie played just for laughs, with your average characters, I recommend "Anger Management." But if you want a classic example of fine storytelling, see "About Schmidt."

The characters are funny, but not outrageous. They are not there to make us laugh. They are there to preach something, much like in "It's a Wonderful Life." But they do make us laugh, in the little quirks of life. Things we all do. The first forty minutes of this movie is an absolute hoot, and those forty minutes are probably funnier than any movie you'll see this year. But not outwardly funny; like I said, this isn't an Adam Sandler movie. This is a realistic movie with realistic characters doing real things that are funny. It's a self-parody for all the viewers. The little quirks all the different characters have will either a) remind you of someone you know, or b) remind you of yourself.

Jack Nicholson is an absolute stand-out in this movie. I can't see anyone else playing him quite as well as Nicholson. And I must admit that I've never been a real fan of Jack, either. But when he is on screen in this film, we see a sad, lonely, angry and afraid old man who is wondering through life, living each day, but not for any apparent reason.

Alexander Payne has crafted a wonderful life-parody/drama here. I didn't expect this much from "About Schmidt," but I sure did get more than I bargained for. And in this case, what I didn't bargain for was better than what I did.

4.5/5 stars -

John Ulmer
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Melancholic comedy about a retired old man at the end of his life. Uplifting moral tale about caring for each other. One of the best roles ever by Jack Nicholson.
imseeg3 November 2018
" I am weak. I am a failure. Relatively soon I will die. It will be as though I have never existed. What in the world is better because of me ? " A quote from a letter by Jack Nicholson, playing a disillusioned retiree, who has lost his wife and is estranged from his only daughter. What has he got to live for by himself at his age?

I think director Alexander Payne must be praised for making this striking portrait of all the emotions of solitude and abondonment old retirees go through. Even for young people who have a dad or uncle that is recently retired or became a widow, this picture will be very recognizable. I often recognized my own dad in the gentle vulnerable character Jack Nicholson portrayed. It is tough being old and alone. And director Alexander Payne achieved to make a melancholic comedy about it, with enough big laughs to never get too sentimental.

Director Alexander Payne wouldnt be Alexander Payne if he didnt sneak in a moral message sideways. Discover for yourself what it is, it touched me deeply, because however depressing this story might seem, all ends well with a feel good ending.This picture can be watched by young and old, by all audiences, although I think those moviegoers that are fond of subtle tongue in cheek jokes will enjoy it the most.
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Could you depress me a little more?
suawiyp24 January 2003
About Schmidt is clearly the most overrated movie of the year, and has the most misleading ad campaign of the year. The ads make it look like a light-hearted romp, when really it is dark and depressing, interspersed with a few mildly humorous (yet oddly sad) moments. In the movie, Schmidt is a man who just retired to realize his whole life has meant nothing. So he makes a few feeble attempts to change that but learns that he can't. He is sad, depressed, and worthless at the start, and sad, depressed, and worthless at the end. And that is the problem with this movie -- it doesn't GO anywhere. It's like watching depressed friends discuss their problems for two straight hours as they forget that you are there. To be fair, the performances are amazing, and the dialogue is very real, but it just sits there, like a slow day of flipping channels. If you want to be depressed by a good movie, see Leaving Las Vegas, or even The Man Who Wasn't There. This one has nothing to say -- just a blank demonstration of how depressed good actors can make you.
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A beautiful, emotional piece of cinema.
reigntall21 November 2010
It's a tale of an old man, who's life sucks. Nobody cares about him, nobody need him. He is greatly disappointed in who his daughter is going to marry, and tries to be controlling, which is not a necessarily a good quality, but the viewer still feels sympathy for this poor old soul. The only person Schmidt is able to confide in is the child in Africa he is sponsoring. It is in his letters that he can express what he is really feeling.

Jack Nicholson has one of his best performances ever, and that's saying something, considering his fantastic career. It isn't all depressing scene after depressing scene, because if a movie is too sad, it isn't enjoyable. There is plenty of humor, dark or otherwise, along the way to lighten the mood.

It's in an emotional journey from beginning to end and is one the most human movies ever.

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About Time!
blandiefam26 March 2010
This movie made a big old guy like me tear up! The way the story unfolded made you feel as if Jack was trying to make a statement about his film career. I don't know if it went unnoticed but he did do his usual thing and this time acted his pants off. I was captivated with great expectation as he meandered through his new world. I love the character development even with the unseen boy (you get it once you've watched it). Kathy Bates really exposed her true self in this movie and Jack out did himself. It seems that he has reached a place in his professional career where quality and story telling has rebounded to be most important to him. I watched this movie by myself but had to show it again to my wife as she wondered what made me cry. She also wiped her eyes. Hollywood can sometimes allow a movie like this to slip through amidst all the fluff it produces. I highly recommend this film for people who love great stories. It's about time Jack got back to this kind of picture. This move is about life!
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The smallest thing you do in your life may finally be the biggest one
miagy20 May 2006
OK let's forget that Jack is my favourite actor and I lately really like movies about ordinary people from US countryside and small towns and communities. I am just fascinated somehow - but let's return to the topic. Ther movie shows an ordinary and average life of one man - better to say the second or just the very last part of his life. After you loose all you used to like or used to take as something usual you are going to see the world in other color. You see that one man means a lot for himself but not a damn for the others - including your family. You start to understand what the life is about - what was wrong in your life and what was the biggest goal you achieved. You start to understand that small ordinary habits and everyday experience is all what left and you have.

And finally after staying alone and thinking about the life you may find that the least important thing you have done is finally the most important and everything else doesn't matter.

So in the end > good story with good acting of our star JAck and nice views of US people and life. 8/10
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