As Good As It Gets (1997)

Drama may be tough, but comedy is even harder to pull off, especially when you may risk alienating your audience with a potentially controversal  main character. Which brings us to multiple Oscar winner  As Good as It Gets

Melvin (Jack Nicholson) is an obsessive compulsive, best-selling author who is notoriously terrible to everyone he meets. However his tightly ordered world is upset by interactions with waitress Carol (Helen Hunt) and his artist neighbour Simon (Greg Kinnear), and despite themselves some unlikely friendships begin to emerge.

It’s a brave move having your main character as unlikable as Jack Nicholson’s Melvin. In fact not just unlikeable-he’s a racist, homophobic misanthrope who is rude to everyone he meets. So it’s a testament to Jack Nicholson and writers Mark Adas and James L. Brooks (who also directed) that through the course of the film you start to like Melvin, and even in some cases feel sorry for him.

I liked that Melvin’s love interest Carol is a proper character and not just the love interest. She has her own issues and faults and her subplot with her ill son is engaging. Despite what Melvin wants she is not going to submit to his every whim even if she is the only person to tolerate him.

One of my favourite characters was Simon played by Greg Kinnear as Melvin’s gay neighbour. He is so likeable and nice but even his cheery demeanour starts to break after a series of unfortunate incidents happen to him. I just wanted to give him a hug every time something bad happened to him.

It’s not surprising that Nicholson and Hunt both won Academy Awards for their roles in this film. Sometimes comedies tend to get overlooking when it comes to awards as they are seen by some as “fluff”-when actually to have such good comedic talent and timing is very difficult. Then to put an emotional heart into the film like these actors do is wonderful. I’m glad they were were awarding for this. It’s a pity that Kinnear didn’t win but that year Supporting Actor went to Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting.

Rating 4/5 – a great comedy that has many witty lines and memorable characters

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “As Good As It Gets (1997)

  1. Hunt and Nicholson are great here and really make it feel like they could fall in love with one another at any given moment. In all honesty, they’re what makes it so watchable, even when it does seem to go on a bit too long. Good review Lauren.

  2. Good point about how Nicholson makes an unlikeable character likeable in the end

  3. 13mesh

    Hi there, nice review. I watched this movie last year and loved it. Kinnear did excellent here and so does Nicholson and Hunt.

    • Hi, thanks for commenting! Glad you liked the film too. It took a potentially difficult character and made you like him, and had great performances all round.

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