About Schmidt – screenplay by Alexander Payne

English: Jack Nicholson Français : Jack Nicholson
English: Jack Nicholson Français : Jack Nicholson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My question: how does price fixing actually work among professional film critics? Is there a meeting every year where they decide these things? Jack Nicholson movie = good. Well, this one isn’t. Not for my money.

A story can be about awful people, but somehow or another there’s got to be enough dramatic tension to keep me in my seat, and I almost walked out of this one. Schmidt is so limited in his perception of the world that it’s torture to watch him, and not character-building, Kafka-esque torture, either. Worse, everybody around him is just as boring, but most of them are disagreeable for other reasons as well. Even the ones who are supposed to provide comic relief are pathetic (his daughter), revolting (his son in law) or just plain nasty (Roberta, played by Kathy Bates).

The worst thing of all is the fact that they set the plot up around Schmidt’s ‘adoption’ of a 6-year-old Tanzanian named Ndugu through a world charity, so that we can hear Schmidt’s inner thoughts by means of the letters. This is not only ham-handed, but it backfires because if anything, those letters make Schmidt less likable. If that’s possible.

My friend Bruce has dubbed this a man-of-pain-movie, the highest praise he can give. We don’t see eye to eye on movies, obviously. I’ll gladly leave him this one.

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