Jack Nicholson has got the role of his life, one that utilizes most everything that makes him who he is.He's Melvin Udall, a reclusive writer of mass market paperbacks in Manhattan. He's an obsessive compulsive that turns locks 4 or 5 times before leaving well enough alone. He's an acid-mouthed bigot that makes Archie Bunker sound like Martin Luther King.
And he's pretty damn funny in this film.
The plot revolves around Udall's everyday routine - breakfast every day at the same cafe, at the same table, ordering the same stuff, always served by his favorite waitress (Helen Hunt). Only now his comfortable world is starting to unravel. One day the waitress can't make it to work, tending to her chronically ill son. Udall's at her doorstep, trying to get her back to the restaurant. Ultimately, he sends a top-rate doctor to care for her son - bills paid in full. This naturally gets her wondering if he's stalking her.
Also woven finely into the story is Udall's gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear). He paints for a living. His dog irritates the hell out of Melvin. But once he falls victim to a brutal attack, Melvin, stuck with caring for his dog, starts taking a liking to the creature. Eventually he bonds, sort of, with his neighbor. There are many other twists and turns in the film's course that get Udall rolling on the path to redemption and recovery.
Jack and Helen more than deserve their Oscars for their performances here. Everyone else involved does a super job. You politically-correct types may not be comfortable laughing at many of the off-color lines uttered by Melvin here, but for God's sake, it's only a movie.You Monty Python fans: Watch for a scene where Nicholson sings a familiar song on his piano.