Last night I watched About Schmidt. I have always been put off by the picture of Jack Nicholson on the movie poster and figured the movie must be about some crazy guy. Because my expectations were so low might explain how pleasantly surprised I was when I watched it.
The movie is about a man who has just retired as an insurance executive. The opening scene shows Nicholson staring at the clock in his empty office -- waiting for the minute hand to get to exactly 5:00.
From there we see his retirement party and how he tries to deal with retirement. He is bored. He has nothing to do. He is annoyed by his his wife of 42 years and is upset she pushed him into buying a 35 foot Winnebago motor home.
They are preparing for their only child's upcoming wedding when his wife suddenly dies. Thus, Nicholson's character is left to deal with life on his own and a lot of guilt about his wife and daughter.
He finally gets into the monstrous motor home and begins to drive.
He gets to Denver for his daughter's wedding, though he tries to talk her out of marrying the water bed salesman. Nicholson's character fights with himself - and his daughter - about the situation and finally gives in.
He tries to put on a good face and tries to get along with the groom's family. The mother of the groom is played by Kathy Bates. She does an incredible job in this film and was nominated along with Nicholson for best acting.
Bates' role as the eclectic and somewhat off balanced middle aged woman is refreshing, humorous and real.
Her willingness to shed her clothes and step into a hot tub with Nicholson is beyond memorable. I really liked her character a lot and think she helped turn this film from very good to superb.
And let's face it - it doesn't get much more real than seeing Kathy Bates in the nude. We are all a lot more like her than what we typically see on the big screen -- and that was good to see.
This movie does a wonderful job of exploring the range of feelings we have as we move from middle age to later life. If you have not seen this film, see it. If you have seen it, see it again.
It is truly an excellent film.
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