As Good as it Gets (1997)

As-Good-as-it-Gets

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
It got good.

Jack Nicholson is a curious guy. His acting style is more or less static in Hollywood…so he’s almost, almost a typecasted actor…but at the same time, he just feels like he has a massive acting range…which is weird, but a good weird. I honestly think the man is a wonderful actor, even one of our bests, and I can’t believe that I’ve never seen As Good as it Gets, which is clearly one of his best movies. Strangely enough, this movie is kind of hard to come by, especially if you’re looking for the blu-ray…but if you do end up running into it, I urge you to check this film out if you haven’t yet.

The story focuses on OCD-plagued Melvin Udall (Nicholson), whose disorder has more or less made him bitter at the world. He is more or less a misunderstood man because he sees the world a little differently and requires different things to remain sane. When a neighbor is hurt, he is tasked with looking after their little dog…and he begins to love it. At the same time, he meets a beautiful waitress who, for some reason or another, he just clicks with. Her very presence makes him want to become a better man.

Sometimes I start off a review with what I did like, but this time I’ll start with what I didn’t… because for the most part, this is a wonderful film. The things I didn’t like had more to do with the fact that there isn’t much of a solid plot. There is no main goal, but instead it’s more of a coming-of-age tale…which I don’t always like. However, the pacing and structure of what they did have was pieced together amazingly. The second main thing I disliked about the flick was clearly the “romantic chemistry” between Nicholson and Helen Hunt. They clearly had amazing chemistry, but it wasn’t romantic at all. Them together seems weird and out of place, but their regular interactions are nothing short of phenomenal…so it’s really strange to explain.

The rest of the movie…I was a fan. I’m not always a fan of movies utilizing the “cute” factor for animals, but the little dog was really good in this film. It was such a little bitty thing, but the way the trainers had it act was brilliant…and the “cute” factor worked because it was integral to the story and to Melvin’s shifting personality. I also think the acting from everyone was perfect. Chemistry is questionable, but the acting itself was spot on. From Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, and especially Jack Nicholson. I don’t know what it is about him, but even with his crazy personality in everything that he’s in, you always feel a deeper connection with his characters about how he’s truly feeling about different things – even if he’s not being obvious about those feelings. He is a remarkable actor.

As for the presentation of OCD, I think they may have overdone it. I believe they wanted to really expand the seriousness of what this guy goes through on a daily basis, but it was like he was every form of the disorder, which naturally feels rare and kind of fake…however, they presented the problems honestly and accurately. So, it may be a bit more rare than what the typical person with OCD experiences, but rare doesn’t mean impossible. So you may have to accept that Nicholson’s character is really screwed with OCD, but he at least acts it out beautifully, and that’s really what matters.

The Good:

As Good as it Gets is a surprisingly wonderful movie that beautifully portrays people with various problems that are often misunderstood, and it paints a portrait of combining three incomplete individuals to create unique symmetry, which is a very special sight.

The Bad:

As great of a symbolic movie this film can be, it still has the flaw of overreaching itself. The three together make a really nice friendship trio, but the romantic subplot with Nicholson and Hunt felt way too weird for it’s own good. It would have been a lot stronger if they didn’t try so hard for the two to be a couple.

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4 thoughts on “As Good as it Gets (1997)

    • Hmm, I don’t know. For me, it seemed forced, but in the scheme of things, it’s trivial enough of an issue to not make a substantial difference

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  1. It’s a lovely little flick, which mostly has to do with the fact that everybody involved here is so charming. Especially Nicholson, who absolutely makes this movie worth watching every single second. Good review Dave.

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