About Schmidt

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated R for some language and brief nudity.(not good nudity!)
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates
Directed By:Alexander Payne

Final Grade:

When I first saw the trailer for About Schmidt, I was a little uncertain about how good of a film it was going to be. I’m not sure why, but I was. It had nothing to do with not being a Jack Nicholson fan, and it had nothing to do with the subject matter. But for some strange reason, I did not know if I wanted to see it or not. Well it turns out the more I read about it and the more I watched the trailer the more I started to fall “in love” with the movie so to speak. As the end of the year approached and the film had not reached Ames, I was fairly disappointed, and so finally I headed off to a small theater in the middle of Des Moines Iowa to check out the latest Nicholson installment with high hopes.

Jack Nicholson plays Warren Schmidt a man in his sixties who is facing that “what does it all mean” crisis. He recently retired form his job and witnessed his position being taken over by a “younger generation” and begins to question if his life really had any meaning at all. But when his wife unexpectedly passes away Warren has to learn how to get on with his life. The death of his wife leads Warren to begin a journey across the country to visit his soon to be married daughter. But he soon learns he is not the perfect parent he once thought he was, and that he may not have been the man he always thought he was…

About Schmidt was a great film. Nicholson is a joy to watch at work, and even in his old age he still proves that he can act with the best of them. His performance is heart-felt and emotional, and after a while you begin to forget that you are watching jack Nicholson, and begin to focus more on his character: Warren Schmidt. To me, that’s a sign of a great acting job. Through Schmidt’s emotional voice-overs to his everyday actions we get a wonderful insight into the story of a broken man and how he reviews his life in his soul-searching.

Now I know I know, it probably doesn’t sound like anything too exciting, and you are right. In fact it is kind of dull at moments. But Nicholson keeps you wondering, and so the film carries itself fairly smoothly. However it is the emotional level this film carries that makes it such a great film to watch and enjoy. Add all that up with a few subtle “Midwest USA” jokes, and a wise crack about Drake University (which happens to be the school my girlfriend attends) About Schmidt makes my list of must see movies for this time of the year. As I look back at About Schmidt I really feel the ending is a “graceful cop-out” to a movie that had potential to be even more, but in the end it’s a joy to watch simply based on acting alone.

Hopefully About Schmidt will make it’s way to Ames in the near future, but if not head to Des Moines and give it a shot. The next few months are “down months for movies, so go check out the “good stuff” while there is still time. And if you don’t make it to the theaters to check it out, then make sure you put it on your rental list.