About Schmidt (USA; 125min.)


directed by: Alexander Payne
starring: Jack Nicholson; Kathy Bates; Hope Davis; Dermot Mulroney
About Schmidt
 
Ivy says: "Well, we pushed this one to the 2003 nominations and I went to see it the today. And now I wish we had just gotten it out of the way instead of dragging it out to next year.

I went to ABOUT SCHMIDT without any information. It was a film I knew I wanted to see so I tend not to read reviews on those. All I knew was that people are heralding the film and that it is by the director of ELECTION.

"All in all the film left me cold and depressed. Not depressed by the filmís content but by how disappointing the film was. There was no arc to the story, there were many of the same dramatic elements as in ELECTION (and were much more pointed in the previous film) and in the end I felt that I didnít care a lick about the characters that I had just spent two hours with. Now all in all, these things shouldnít alone make me dislike a film. I think about the question why we are supposed to care about characters? Isnít that just audience manipulation or escapism or some sort of narcissistic experience anyway? Not eloquently put, but you all know what I mean. (And I love some good escapism now and then... PITCH BLACK or THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS...)

"ABOUT SCHMIDT has very interesting, complex characters which I find quite impressive. The story is centered around deep and true emotions as well. But those elements have no impact or importance to the story. I think in the end Alexander Payne is a misanthrope. Once again he presents us with a collection of pathetic and unlikable characters, but this time it just ended up feeling like a waste of time instead of a funny and biting comment. Interestingly, although not dramatically in this film, Payne - as a filmmaker - makes almost no judgements on the filmís characters. Instead the audience are left to paint their own opinions into the story. I like the experiment but didnít think that the film was provocative or compelling where these ideas have the potential to be." 1 1/2 cats
 
Laura (in response to Ivy) says: "Wow, Ivy - sorry to hear you hated it so much - I was cold on ADAPTATION, but *loved* SCHMIDT. 'Dear Ndugu, I hope you're sitting down for this' must be my favorite film line of the year. I found Nicholson's performance moving and I'm no Jack fan. Not even any points for Kathy Bates' nude hot tub scene?" 5 cats
 
Marilyn says: "Okay, I will have my two cents on ADAPTATION and ABOUT SCHMIDT, both of which I found very disappointing, particularly all the hype over them. The lead performances in both were good, but not great. This is not Jack's best as some have claimed and Nicholas Cage has played this role many times, no change and neither one drew me into their characters. I just couldn't care less. There were other very nice parts played well by really good actors but I kept thinking, they all bought into the idea of being in a low budget film and I am certain they are not thrilled either with the results. Neither film had a decent ending...it is as if the writer said, ok....the end. Kaufman should have listened to the rule against voice overs but then again, it was used in both movies....very lame. I am carrying on but I am very disappointed.... 8 WOMEN looks like a masterpiece next to these two films. Nothing is very exciting yet"
 
Tara says: "I have to agree with Laura on this one. I throuroughly enjoyed ABOUT SCHMIDT and I found it refreshing to see a movie about (more or less) common people and situations. There was nothing glamorous about anyone in that movie and I appreciated that immensely.

"I also felt there was a story arc - and the turning point came at the wedding reception when Schmidt realizes his daughter has a life without him, that she is a grown up, and not the person in his memories - which are all of her as a little girl. He has begun to think that perhaps his life has not made a difference to anyone - a concept we all struggle with at one point. You can just see the downward spiral on his face as he realizes that nothing and no one is as he thought it was all these years.

"The letters to Ndugu are hysterical and cathartic - the therapy Scmidt desperately needed. My favorite line comes from the letter in which he adds extra money to the monthly and says, 'and here is a little soemthing extra for you.'

The end was nothing short of brilliant. Even though his letters to Ndugu were always one-sided and selfish, (and probably not read to the boy in entirity) he was able to make a difference in someone else's life, and therefore, in his own life. It made me cry. I just really love when people learn from the most unexpected places, people, events, etc. and this is how the ending felt to me.

"Kathy Bates was fantastic - major points for the nude scene - takes cajones! And I have always had a thing for Hope Davis - I was glad to see her play a less than pleasant and very decisive character. And unlike Laura, I am a huge Jack fan and he was just wonderful here. I kept laughing to myself: EASY RIDER - the AARP years.

"I don't think Payne is a misanthrope at all, and if he is it is only in that 'Scratch the surface to find a romantic' sort of way. Sometimes people are just plain crappy and that's how it is. Doesn't mean they are always crappy, but that's a part of it...

"At nearly 34 years old, I also was delighted that my friend and I were among the youngest people in the theater - just nice for a movie to reach a wide audience. " 3 1/2 cats