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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
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by Abhishek Bandekar

"Not Only About Schmidt…"
3 stars

Warren Schmidt is not a hero. After sixty-six winters, he’s not much of a success either! Warren Schmidt lived his entire life the way he was asked of. He earned a college degree, found a secure job, got married- remained too, raised a beautiful daughter and made himself a picture-perfect suburban life with a Winnebago and everything. And yet if he were to die, we know he won’t be missed. And he knows it too. No tomb will be erected honouring the life of Warren Schmidt, no epitaph will eulogize his accomplishments and no plaque will praise his contributions to mankind. Warren Schmidt, like millions of us, will remain the one who came, saw and silently went without any fanfare!

Warren Schmidt, played flawlessly by Jack Nicholson, is a man who realizes that his life has been a waste. After serving almost all of his living days as an actuary for an insurance firm, he has no reason to wake up to every morning post-retirement. His wife Helen(June Squibb) tries to cheer him with a breakfast in the Winnebago. But for a day that promises nothing more than sitting on a couch flipping through television channels, a breakfast doesn’t sound very exciting. His marriage of forty-two years has been a formal affair; to the extent that he still finds his wife a stranger living in his house. It is only when she dies that he misses her presence. His pain, however, is soon replaced with anger and disillusionment once he discovers an old secret and realizes that his marriage had been a lie. Having lived a fruitless life of compromise(he urinates sitting on the toilet-seat because his wife asked him to!), Warren decides to rectify the one mistake that he can before it is committed. Jumping into his Winnebago, which he never used for the duration that he owned it, Warren travels to his daughter Jeannie(Hope Davis) in hope of stopping her form marrying Randall(Dermot Mulroney), a ‘nincompoop’ who offers his condolence to Warren upon Helen’s demise in the same tone in which he proposes a ‘pyramid’ scheme! But Jeannie doesn’t need her father’s advice, and maybe she doesn’t need him. Warren Schmidt has lived a thankless life doing the right things and taking the right steps without anybody acknowledging it.

We learn Warren’s frustrations through his letters to Ndugu, a six year old Tanzanian kid whom he decides to sponsor after watching a television advertisement. These letters act as an outlet for all the pent-up feelings that Warren has bottled within him. So bereft of emotions has Warren’s life been that when an unfamiliar couple invite him to a dinner in their trailer, he misinterprets the considerate nature of the wife as a sexual advance and ends up embarrassing himself. It is a testament to Jack Nicholson’s acting prowess that he manages to portray Warren, a restricted individual, so effortlessly considering that Nicholson’s off-screen persona is completely contrary to Warren’s. Compare this to Kathy Bates’s Roberta, Randall’s twice divorced mother. Roberta is a bohemian hedonist who’s lived an uninhibited life with an undying zest. Reverse the gender, and you have the type of role that we expect Jack to play! Warren Schmidt is not the sneering and brash Nicholson that we are used to; Warren Schmidt is a person who even compromises with himself by faking happiness on his daughter’s wedding!

Alexander Payne does a brilliant job at directing a story that may read well as a novel but not something that could be transformed easily on film. He achieves it though- Warren’s life is encapsulated in minor details like his visit to the departmental store, Helen’s vacuuming of the kitchen and miniatures placed in showcases. But in this calculated effort to familiarize us with Warren’s life, the narrative gets affected and becomes tedious. This wouldn’t have mattered had the background score been better. I sorely missed Thomas Newman!

The unhurried pace shouldn’t bother anybody who prefer movie characters to develop thereby allowing us to understand them, rather than cardboard cut-outs(dumb blonde, bald bad-guy, gay artiste, hunky action-hero, etc.). Because the success of ‘About Schmidt’ lies precisely in how much we know about Schmidt! Do Warren Schmidt and his life really mean nothing to anybody? The movie answers this question beautifully at its resolution, in what is undoubtedly one of the best endings in film history!

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originally posted: 07/16/05 17:46:24
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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 Barøn 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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