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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.49%
Worth A Look34.93%
Average: 22.6%
Pretty Bad: 17.81%
Total Crap: 6.16%

11 reviews, 80 user ratings

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About Schmidt
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Justin Helmer

"The music of failure."
4 stars

What happens to a person who is forced to rebuild his life in late middle age? How far are we willing to bend what we want to the will of the people we have chosen to be with? Is being an insurance actuary, in fact, the most depressing job in the known world? About Schmidt raises more questions than it answers, but the answer it does give is well worth the wait.

Jack Nicholson plays Warren R Schmidt, a recently retired insurance actuary who loses his sense of self when he retires from his job. He was his job in many respects, and when itís gone he feels cut loose. He has developed what could best be described as ambivalence towards his wife. His daughter (Hope Davis) is engaged to a mullet-wearing bed salesman (Dermot Mulroney) that Warren has decided is not good enough for his little girl. After a series of sudden changes to his worldview, Warren decides that he has a duty to his daughter to make he see the error of her ways. So he sets of from Nebraska to Colorado in his huge camper and the movie takes place along the way.

Not that this is a Ďroad movieí by any standard definition. It feels as if the physical journey from one place to another is there as a function of the movieís central metaphor. In that regard it feels like you could draw a direct line between Nicholsonís performance in this film, and the character he plays in Easy Rider.

For the most part we stay on Schmidt as he winds his way towards Colorado and a confrontation with his soon-to-be son in law and his family. There is a sequence involving the Ďwackyí people he meets along the way, but theyíre random occurrences, not something the movie builds itself on. I have become so used to these characters becoming foes or allies in these movies that when Schmidt abruptly leaves, it threw me a bit.

When he arrives in Colorado, Schmidt is faced with not only his daughterís refusal to cancel the wedding, but his own flaws and foibles as well. For all of their boorishness and social ineptitude, Randallís (Mulroney) family is honest with each other. This comes as a stark contrast with Schmidt who is more than willing to lie to the people he is close to if he believes it is for their own good. Kathy Bates turns in a wonderful performance as Randallís mother; she is Schmidtís polar opposite, doing exactly what she wants to in all situations and not giving a damn what the consequences are.

No film Iíve seen recently has made as much use of stillness and quiet to make its points. At times Nicholsonís face fills the whole frame--except this isnít the manic facial contortions that have become one of his trademarks over the years. The camera just sits there and lets us into this manís thought processes in a way that many films donít let us. Quiet can also keep us from noticing the subtly building tensions that lead literally to the last frames of the film.

While the pace of the thing could become trying to some, it really is worth your time to stay with this one until the end. I havenít had a movie leave me in as quiet and contemplative a place in a long time.

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originally posted: 11/28/04 11:29:40
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User Comments

6/22/15 David Hollingsworth A darkly funny, depressing, but brilliant movie 5 stars
6/17/11 Quigley Nicholson reveals again that he is an artist, an artist that few can match. Great film. 5 stars
5/19/11 Anonymous Surprisingly very entertaining and original 4 stars
7/26/09 the dork knight A drab, depressing portrait. Yes, the last scene is nice. 3 stars
7/14/09 faiche13 Not terribly exciting but yeah, I cried 3 stars
9/15/07 Alyssa Hale Jack did his best with what he had to work with, I guess. 3 stars
6/30/06 MP Bartley Nicholson should really be polishing his fourth oscar now. Warm, witty and poignant. 4 stars
6/22/06 TB He was just lonely old man 5 stars
12/12/05 Bad Critic Really overall just average. I expected more from Payne. 3 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Nicholson is a blessing. See this film and everything else Payne has done. 4 stars
10/05/05 Jesse Taylor Such a memorable movie. Nicholson is perfect. 5 stars
9/20/05 sbpat21 Perfect 5 stars
9/13/05 ray mero Never saw an over the hill business guy as freakish as Nicholson in this flick. 2 stars
8/07/05 Indrid Cold Is it just me, or is Alexander Payne the most reliable director of 21st century? 4 stars
8/01/05 Beth Kerrick Surprisingly entertaining, dry humor. Loved the letter to the orphan!! 4 stars
7/25/05 DM Slow but very well-acted. Great last scene. 4 stars
7/24/05 Carolyn Rathburn It was an alright movie, loved Kathy Bates courage. 4 stars
7/17/05 Charlene Javier Brilliant Jack. Brilliant film. 5 stars
7/05/05 R.W. Welch Sardonic look at retirement. Expertly acted, often funny. Often sad. 4 stars
2/06/05 Jeff Anderson Forget the godawful ANGER MANAGEMENT, this is & will always be Nicholson's finest work!!!!! 5 stars
2/02/05 BobbysRedQueen Jack's writing to his sponsered child was funny ! 4 stars
12/08/04 frosty Definitely a "thinky" movie. Good, though. 4 stars
10/22/04 T good God boring. cannot get all the way thru it. 2 stars
10/17/04 Miles Morley If you like full frontals of old women, this flicks yours! What a boring piece of... 1 stars
10/17/04 kitfo1 for once, Jack Nicholson acts, instead of just being Jack Nicholson 4 stars
10/17/04 Charlene Javier Bravo! 5 stars
9/29/04 Steve Newman disappointed - wont ever watch again 3 stars
9/26/04 Mel Gibson's Boyfriend Kathy Bates makes even crap like this almost tolerable 3 stars
9/04/04 T.B. It funny how he write about his job 4 stars
8/31/04 Pinkline Jones Not one of Jack's better films - ok 3 stars
7/16/04 Recurring Dream made me seriously think about what 'life' all adds up to in the end(?)...and i laughed too. 4 stars
7/05/04 Bruce Depressing and Boring. Wished he would just end it all. 2 stars
4/25/04 Carla boring, hardly funny 2 stars
2/15/04 beard its damn funny. BUT IT ISN'T 4 stars
1/29/04 chris. might be slow, but a great character study 4 stars
1/21/04 Betty White Brilliant, sad film with Nicholson & Bates tour-de-forces. 5 stars
10/17/03 Josh Standlee Pretty funny, yet I still miss Jack Nicholson as Jack Torance! 3 stars
10/03/03 the Grinch If you left it, you missed the payoff...cinematically uncomfortable, but very good 4 stars
8/14/03 Kooler Sly, subtle, brilliantly shot. Incredibly sad. 5 stars
8/13/03 Nancy295 Interesting but once was enough. 3 stars
8/05/03 Dark BarÝn Touching. I've got to get a life before I become like Schmidt. 5 stars
7/09/03 6th Sense Slow moving and overrated! 2 stars
7/09/03 Roy Absolutely horrible. Not funny, not dramatic, just plain horrible. 1 stars
6/21/03 joker-smoker-toker blah! worste jack nicholson movie period! 1 stars
6/17/03 Erin I left in the middle I thought it was so stupid.Maybe I missed the good stuff if any 1 stars
6/12/03 Allen But did we have to see Kathy Bates undressed? Uuuulllllghhhhh!!!!!! 5 stars
6/10/03 Jack Bourbon Wow! What an ending. 5 stars
6/09/03 The Chronic Love Nicholson!! Whats not to like about the movie. 5 stars
4/10/03 Tam A slightly depressing film with an anti-climax of an ending, but Nicholson & Bates were gr8 3 stars
3/23/03 Winthrop J Applesmythe III hey, reviewer: it's (NNN-DOO-GOO) 4 stars
3/12/03 James Renwick Disappointing. Its as simple as that 2 stars
3/03/03 Eschenennock Manville Good interest-keeper for a film with anti-climactic ending. 4 stars
3/01/03 matt disappointing 2 stars
2/22/03 Jim the movie geek The depresssing bits probably won out over the uplifting bits. Jack was great. 4 stars
2/21/03 A. Kane Jack's great. A good low-key, subversive film. 4 stars
2/20/03 catatafish I kept waiting for Jack to lose it in typical Jack style and was angry when he didn't 3 stars
2/15/03 John Bale A gentle comedy about families and aging. Nicholson's top performance 5 stars
2/14/03 Andrew Carden Great Performances By Bates and Nicholson Light Up The Film 5 stars
2/13/03 r. dassow about shmidt is about shit 2 stars
2/13/03 mattski just too shapeless although the ending may well be secretly cynical in an awesome way 3 stars
2/10/03 Greyjack Two stars if you go to movies purely for escapism, five if you dig poignant character films 5 stars
2/09/03 jeffreyman Bergmanesque with laughs 5 stars
2/08/03 mr. Pink One of the best movies of 2002! Why the fuck is this underrated! Morons!!! 5 stars
2/05/03 Krysiek Interesting, though depressing. Gives food for thought. Not a comedy! 4 stars
2/03/03 gus pesimism raping optimism in the ass over a garbage can. awful (& i;m a pesimist) 1 stars
2/01/03 Suzz a rather average film not up to all the hype 3 stars
2/01/03 Phil M. Aficionado Somehow I expected more, but maybe less is what it is really all about. Go Jack! 4 stars
1/31/03 .Choadushouse. Humorous...yet incredibally powerful and depressing! Makes me never want to get old! 4 stars
1/30/03 Evan Who wants to see a movie about a pathetic person who doesn't progress. I sure don't. 1 stars
1/29/03 Bill Head [This should be called "I'm Old, Whoopty Fuck"] Kathy Bates is such a gynecological deformity. Nicholson is the green discharge. 1 stars
1/19/03 FrayLo there's so much more to jack's character that's not said but implied... great movie. 4 stars
1/17/03 Heather An acquired taste, great acting from Jack and you get to see Kathy Bates buck naked 5 stars
1/14/03 Jack de Nero more hollywood crap 1 stars
1/11/03 Butterbean A tad overrated. Kathy Bate's nudity explains why Nicholson looks like that in the poster. 3 stars
1/09/03 OMFG THIS IS TEH SUCKES 1 stars
1/09/03 J get this jackass wintermute off of this site, he's obviously a dumbfuck. 4 stars
1/09/03 Jack Nicholson is god I expected this to be a vehicle for The Jack, but it's much more. Movie of the year, man. 5 stars
1/08/03 Mr Math Wintermute rules! 3 stars
1/06/03 sarah nicholson actually ACTS. who woulda thunk it? 4 stars
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  13-Dec-2002 (R)



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