I went to see Maid in Manhattan and I loved it. It is an adorable Cinderella story complete with mice and an evil stepsister. I was surprised. I thought that I would find it mediocre. It was, however, a very cute, great date movie.
A few days later, I was surprised again, but not in a good way. I went to see About Schmidt. I expected this movie to be an awesome piece of work. After all, it did earn the Golden Globe for Best Screen-Play (written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor) and for Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Jack Nicholson). Despite these honors, in the words of Warren Schmidt, it just wasn’t “up to snuff.”
About Schmidt is the story of Warren Schmidt (Nicholson, As Good As It Gets), a man who just retired from his position as assistant vice-president at an insurance company. He feels that his life is insignificant and is slightly depressed when he sees a commercial for the Childreach Sponsorship Program. He picks up the phone and for just twenty-two dollars a month (that’s just seventy-three cents a day) he sponsors Ndugu Umbo, a six-year old orphan living in Tanzania. With each check Schmidt sends Ndugu, he sends a letter confiding his deep, secret thoughts to the young boy. Soon after, his wife of forty-two years dies suddenly. He is left alone to grieve and deal with the fact that his only daughter, Jeannie (Hope Davis, Hearts in Atlantis) is about to marry Randall (Dermot Mulroney, My Best Friend’s Wedding), a man who Schmidt doesn’t feel is good enough for her. So, Schmidt packs his sorry self up and goes for a long trip in his brand new Winnebago in an attempt to find something that makes him feel better about his life, whether it be in the past or the present. In the end, he finds nothing except the chaos of his daughter’s wedding and that he is even more alone. He returns home and is more depressed than ever until he gets a letter and painting that shows him how much his twenty-two dollars a month means to a little boy in a far off land.
The only things I enjoyed About Schmidt were the beginning and the end. I could have done without the rest. I suppose if I was sixty-six, widowed, retired, and depressed I would have gotten more out of the film. I am not, however, so to me it was a downer. Although the film was depressing, the older people surrounding me were laughing the whole time. I didn’t really understand that. Jack Nicholson’s performance was definitely worthy of the Golden Globe. He was awesome, but that’s no big surprise. He captures Schmidt completely. His face shows how trapped by life Schmidt is feeling and the disappointment about dreams that never came true. The movie, however, was not deserving of all the praise it got. Maybe if I watch it fifty years from now my opinion will change, but for the time being, I’d opt for Maid In Manhattan instead.