As Good As It Gets
A James L. Brooks movie
With Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear and others
Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is a truely obnoxious guy, single, grouchy and without friends. He finds fault with everything and everybody, especially with his neighbor, homosexual Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear) and his dog. His only pleasure is breakfast at the same restaurant every morning, and of course he always wants to be served by the same waitress, Caroll Conelly (Helen Hunt). He secretly admires her, but she doesn't return his affections. On the contrary, his behavior almost gets him thrown out. That day he musters the courage to really talk to Caroll for the first time.
Now the grouch is magically transformed into a (somewhat) normal guy and the rest of the story is predictable. Before it comes to an end the audience has to endure two hours of Melvin's unbearably bad behavior. That's just too much. A few cuts would have helped the movie immensely. Unfortunately it drags itself along for 138 minutes. Melvin isn't even obnoxious in an original way. It looks like the authors made a list of rule for good behavior and broke them one by one.
It's not quite clear why the movie got all those Academy Award nominations and two actual awards. Helen Hunt deserves her award, because she is the one who keeps the viewer from falling asleep. Her fights with Melvin are the highlights of the movie, but unfortunately she has to succumb to the charm of her former pest.
Jack Nicholson however simply reprises his ususal grouch part, that seems to be very much like his real life personality. It doesn't look like much of an acting effort. But maybe that's what impressed the jury. Some people may dream about behaving like Melvin just once in their lives, but for most it is simply embarrassing.
Since this is a movie made in Hollywood the dog survives unharmed, although this unbearably cute animal is completely superfluous and just as tedious as the subplot about the miraculous recovery of Caroll's son. May no harm befall children and small animals.
This is a rather sluggish comedy with only a few highlights. Just as overrated as GOOD WILL HUNTING, the other movie showered with undeserved Academy Award Nominations this year.
Copyright 1998 Christina Gross & Monika Hübner