About Schmidt Cover What will you do when you eventually retire? Will you spend more time with your family? Will you take up a leisurely pursuit? Will you draw funny pictures of vegetables and then stick them upon the refrigerator? Or will you watch this film Directed by Alexander Payne; and Starring: Jack Nicholson; Hope Davis, and Kathy Bates. It was made in 2002, and lasts for 123 minutes.

About Schmidt

Recently retired risk assessment expert, Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson), does not know what to do with his life. He just whiles away his days by visiting his ex-place of work whilst sponsoring a little boy from Tanzania, called Ndugu.

Well, that is until he discovers his wife’s body lying dead upon the kitchen floor – flat as a pancake!

Thankfully, though, Warrens daughter, Jeannie (Hope Davis), and her fianc√©, Randall (Dermot Mulroney), briefly visit from out of town - to reconcile in this tragic event. And in so doing, they all busy themselves before Jennie and Randall have to go back home to prepare for their up and coming wedding day.  

Now that Warren finds himself on his lonesome again, begrudgingly, for a short while anyway, he tries his best to look after himself, and tends to the daily grind as only he can. However, when Warren discovers that his deceased wife once had an affair with an old friend of his, he then decides to escape his homestead and visit his daughter before her nuptials. 

But alas, Warrens daughter does not want him there so soon prior to her wedding day, so instead he decides to take a road trip in his Winnebago – where he reminisces – where he meets new friends – where he finds himself – and where he gets himself into mischief too.

Eventually, Warren arrives at his daughter’s expectant mother in laws home a day or two before her wedding day. And it is here that he is befriended by the mother in law, Roberta Hertzel (Kathy Bates), as well as her ex-husband and other siblings too. Unfortunately, though, all of this results in one thing in Warrens mind – my daughter cannot marry into this family!!!

And that is why what next transpires is a rather emotional and poignant turn of events, as people are dismayed, weddings are played, speeches are relayed, and nothing puts a smile on Warrens face more than a letter in the mail.

OK, I have to admit, that I did not think that I would really like ‘About Schmidt’ when I first sat down to watch it. Now this has nothing to do with the cast, and it has nothing to do with the story either. Instead, I just did not want to see a film where Mr cool himself, Jack Nicholson, becomes some sort of a miserable old git.

Granted, I put my hand on my heart and state for the record that this was mainly due to me perceiving him as some sort of aged gigolo - whom always performs best when he has a stunning blond on his arm and a devilish glee in his eye. Still, the fact remains, that my initial preconceived notion did dissuade me somewhat about this film. And in addition to this mindset, I have come across many men like Schmidt in my time – and I did not see no dramatic purpose to capturing this type of chap on celluloid.

Kathy in About Schmidt

However, once I gathered my resolve, and began to actually watch this movie – ooops – I was proven wrong straight away. In essence, ‘About Schmidt’ is a movie that people do not really like to think about – there aged future. Well – come on – lets face it – most of us in our early blu-blu-blu, don’t want to think of ourselves as one day being as wrinkled as a prune, and as bulbous as a hippo, do we? No – we – all of us – like to think that we are perpetually in our twenty-something’s, and will grow old gracefully like a shinny new Joan Collins. Nevertheless, the fact remains that one day we will be all ‘like Schmidt’, and it is nice to see how this plays out in this film in such a poignant way. 

My personal favourite segments in this film are those where Jacks voice over narration to Ndugu, contradicts the visuals that were presented upon the screen. I find that theses scenes say more ‘About Schmidt’ than the film itself, and on top of that, they are a blast to watch too. Moreover, I liked Jacks interaction with Kathy Bates in the infamous ‘hot-tub scene’... well... it was funny to see Jack run away from a woman for a change. Also, lets not forget the overall point to of the piece – how age can affect us – no matter who you are. For me it is this principle that makes this film a great film – as it subliminally captures what it means to be ‘getting on in age’, and goes to show that ‘old people have feelings too’.

Jack in About Schmidt

Listen, I am not sure how accurate ‘About Schmidt’ is compared to the book that it was adapted from (as written by Louis Begley), but I can honestly say that it is a great film about a not so great man. It is full of pathos, adventure, suspense, and it is funny to boot. Oh! And lets not forget that you get a quick glimpse at Kathy’s not so pert bosoms also – so what more do you want?

Fine film – pertinent story – un-buoyant tits.