12 May 2014 | longcooljolie
What every romantic comedy aspires to be...
and this movie can be watched again, and again, and again (at least by me).
By now, most people who watch movies are aware that this one practically swept the Oscars for the year it was produced. It won Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt best Actor/Actress awards, came away with Best Picture and also Greg Kinnear won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Simon Bishop, a sensitive gay artist.
Seventeen years later the movie stands up well because of its timeless quality. "As Good as it Gets" is a very tight story and performance by all the actors and there is not one moment, scene or actor wasted. The story centers around people's expressions more than most movies. One example is an elderly woman actress who has opened her apartment door to run an errand and her features contort in disgust when she happens upon Melvin Udall, the Jack Nicholson character who is about to do some mischief with his gay neighbor's dog.
Another example is Skeet Ulrich, who plays a street tough who somehow winds up doing a modeling job for Simon (Greg Kinnear) the gay artist. When Simon explains to Vincent (Ulrich) what he is looking for in a pose, Vincent's eyes widen and he murmurs "Wow." Moments later he nonchalantly delivers the type of pose Simon is looking for. Unfortunately, Simon and Vincent's association ends badly and creates a turning point for the movie.
There are also several layers of irony at play in the story. It is ironic that Melvin, a hardcore misanthropist mired in full-blown OCD can somehow deliver romance novels that women love and buy by the barrelful. Also ironic is that Melvin's character transformation begins when he must take care of Simon's dog, an adorable little Brussels Griffon.
It's also ironic that Carol, Helen Hunt's waitress character, works in a restaurant populated by actress-hopefuls who serve diners while striving for their big acting break. Some have stated that Hunt, a fetching but not-too-glamorous actress was too pretty for the role. However she was dressed down just enough for the role to make it work and her understated beauty comes into play in a big way later on in the story.
Finally there's Jack Nicholson. His portrayal of Melvin Udall stands out as one of his great performances because of all the subtle nuances. The shot of him holding Verdell the dog and cooing to him is one of the signature shots not only from the movie but from his whole career. Near 60 when the movie was produced, he comes across more fit and polished than usual, definitely more so that his portrayal of the raucous astronaut in Terms of Endearment, another one of his great performances, which had occurred 13 years earlier.
If you've never seen it what on earth are you waiting for? And if, like me you've seen it over and over, hopefully this review gives some new insight as to why "As Good as it Gets" is so gloriously watchable, over and over again.