A recently retired man embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding, only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.A recently retired man embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding, only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.A recently retired man embarks on a journey to his estranged daughter's wedding, only to discover more about himself and life than he ever expected.
Like Forrest Gump, the film depends on extensive voice over narration, V.O'd by Nicholsen as letters to Schmidt's newly adopted six year old Tanzanian foster child. Through these ridiculous sharings of sextagenarian angst with an African boy, we register Schmidt's internal grievances - thoughts we would never know about otherwise without his commentary. The slow dragging score drains vitality from each transition, as if cinematic momentum would be antithetical to the point of the tale. Back and forth we rock from a single minor chord to a second one, getting nowhere. The mood, the landscape, the buildings, the people say it all: Schmidt's on the road, but he might as well be sitting home in his lay-z-boy. The cushy bucket seat of a 35 foot Winnebago makes a good substitute.
Casting Jack Nicholson may have been the only way this story could have come to the screen. I've racked my brain to think of one other actor who could have pulled Schmidt off. Tony Hopkins? Not with the same comedic finesse. Gene Hackman reprising his role in Coppola's The Conversation or doing his Tennenbaum hamming? Don't think so. Only Jack has the mix. He does some hilarious bits in this, but overall the mood is somber, glum, inert. Can this be how that other famous Warren from Nebransas - Mr. Buffet - lives?
I was confused, amused, depressed and wierdly disoriented by About Schmidt as I left the theater. I commented that it wasn't a film I'd go see again. Thinking about it a day later, I'd hold to that IF it meant returning to the theater and paying. BUT - were I to run across About Schmidt on cable, I doubt I could tear myself away from it any more than I could from a crack up at the Indy 500. And I think that chance encounter might happen more than once, maybe for years. After all, this is the America I know and mark time in myself. A recommended film going experience.
- Jan 9, 2003