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the Thinking Chicks Guide to Movies

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As Good As It Gets (1997)

Reviewed on 2012 July 27

What happens when a misanthrope with obsessive compulsive disorder is forced to help his fellow man? This movie takes a very good shot at it.

Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is a famous author who should be thanking his lucky stars he can earn a decent living cranking out novels, because he really seems to dislike mankind. He doesn’t like people, he doesn’t like animals, even adorable ones like his neighbor Simon’s (Greg Kinnear) friendly little Brussels Griffon, and he’s somewhat germophobic too.

His neighbors give him the same wide berth he gives them, until one day Simon needs Melvin’s help, and he’s not any happier about it than Melvin. Simon happens to be gay, and did I mention that oh yes, Melvin is also homophobic? Melvin begs his favorite waitress and the one human he seems to like, Carol (Helen Hunt), to back him up.

This was a wonderful script and Jack Nicholson made the most of it. Complex characters can be very hard to create effectively. As I watched I marveled at how you could want the Melvin character to change, for his sake as well as for everyone stuck with him, and at the same time hate him so much. Helen Hunt was almost too sweet as the waitress who’d make Job look impatient, but that was more of a script thing, and a very minor one. Verdell was just beyond any words for cute that I can call to mind.

Three chocolate morsels.


morsel morsel morsel

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