As Good As It Gets

Rating:

An excellent character comedy

Main Cast: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Director: James L. Brooks

Plot Summary: A grumpy writer with a host of psychological problems is forced into taking a look at his life and those around him.

As Good As It Gets is a comedy of manners…in this case, very bad ones from pulp novelist Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson). Nicholson is perfect as this obsessive-compulsive curmudgeon, delivering sarcastic bon mots to his less than adoring public. He suffers from a host of maladies, real and imagined, and will only do certain things at certain times. He never, ever walks on cracks on the sidewalk.

Melvin also only accepts the service of one lone harried waitress at his favorite eatery. Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) is an overworked single mother, quite used to childish behavior, so they do get along in a rocky sort of way.

The delicate balance of Melvin’s life is shattered when his neighbor, Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear), entrusts the care of his dog to the abrasive writer. Melvin obviously wants nothing to do with the duty, but the responsibility is enough to open his eyes to those around him, especially Carol and her son. He is ill, and keeps her from work (and thus serving his table). That simply won’t do.

Despite psychological problems, relationship battles, and the grave illness of a little boy, As Good As It Gets is a comedy. And the plot does pull it off tastefully. It’s a voyage of discovery for Nicholson’s character, who digs out much more out of life than his previous sheltered routines. His transformation paves the way for the other characters to examine their own lives and make changes.

As Good As It Gets is an excellent character study and a very funny comedy.

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