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As Good As It Gets

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: As Good As It Gets

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt
Director: James L. Brooks
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 138 Minutes
Release Date: December 1997
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Drama

*Also starring: Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Shirley Knight, Yeardley Smith, Lupe Ontiveros, Jesse James, Harold Ramis

Review by David Wilcock
2½ stars out of 4

James L. Brooks, one of the developers of The Simpsons and director of Broadcast News, returns to the big screen with this entertaining, if slightly flawed comedy. Nicholson plays Melvin Udall, probably the most horrible person ever on the screen. He's racist, homophobic, and never has a good word to say to anyone. So, nobody talks to him, except waitress Carol Conelly (T.V sitcom star Hunt, who was last seen in Twister, 1996). Naturally, Udall, Conelly and gay neighbor Simon Bishop (Kinnear) who Nicholson hates, all hit it off in the end.

Like Good Will Hunting (1997) and Titanic (1997), even though the outcome is completely obvious, As Good As It Gets is an enjoyable, funny and warm comedy. Nicholson is hilarious as Melvin, churning out insults with superb relish. Only Nicholson could get away with the lines that Melvin delivers. Hunt is also good as waitress Carol, and easily rises to the challenge of Nicholson. There's also (thankfully) a bit of chemistry between them. Kinnear, as the gay neighbor, seems to have a slightly underwritten role, he's more of a plot convience than a character. Although his performance is good, his character just seems to exist to help Melvin and Carol come together. In fact, the scene stealer is Simon's dog, who is funnier than Nicholson. But then again, pets are always cute on screen.

Providing solid support is Cuba Gooding, Jnr (Jerry Maguire, 1996) and Yeardly Smith (who is the voice of Lisa Simpsons in The Simpsons) Although Gooding isn't as good as is character in Maguire, he is still fun. He overacts a little, but not so much as to be annoying. Smith is also good, although she has a fairly small role. Even director Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat, 1981) makes an appearance as a doctor.

But this is primarily Nicholsons film, and every scene he's in, he's steals it. He's character is so hateful, though, it's amazing that anyone talks to him at all, especially Carol. And this is the films main problem. It's totally unbelievable that Carol would ever consider liking Melvin. She doesn't fall in love with him naturally, the film forces her to fall in love with him. Also, Melvins character seems to go too nice, too quickly. I would doubt anyone with a character like Melvins would be able to turn back to a nice, loving person. It would take a helluva long time, much longer than this film would like to make out. Brooks direction is good, though, if a bit average, but he usually manages to get an emotion out of the audience. He handles the comedy scenes better than the sentimental ones (he tends to pile on to much schmaltz) but generally he's good. There's also a nice soundtrack by veteran composer Hans Zimmer.

But, generally, As Good As It Gets achieves what it sets out to do, which is to make the audience feel good by the end of the movie. The movie is a bit overlong, but Nicholson is such good fun that the running time passes by pretty quickly. Overall, As Good As It Gets is a fun movie, even though it may be unbelivable, and certainly worth seeing (if just for Jack Nicholsons performance.) Not quite As Good As It Gets (pardon the bad joke), but still good fun.

Copyright 1997 David Wilcock

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