Melvin (Jack Nicholson) is an obsessive-compulsive writer. His medicine cabinet is stocked with soap, he cannot step on cracks in the sidewalk and at his breakfast restaurant has to eat at the same table, with his own plastic cutlery and be served by the same waitress (Helen Hunt). It’s not just his odd compulsions that make him hard to get along with; it seems that insults just naturally flow from his mouth. He lives across the hall from Simon (Greg Kinnear), a gay painter, and his adorable little dog. When Simon is attacked and hospitalized, Melvin has to take care of the dog. At first, it seems like an obstacle that will break Melvin, but the fluffy little pooch seems to melt his hard exterior.
Melvin’s waitress, Carol, is the only one who will tolerate him. He learns that she has a sick son and can’t get a good doctor without better insurance. When he brings the dog to the restaurant, she starts to see his softer side, when he pulls out a baggie to save the bacon for him.
When Simon returns home, scarred and slowly recovering, he needs his dog to cheer him up. His art didn’t sell and he’s broke. To top it off, his dog now prefers Melvin, and Simon spirals into depression.
Melvin’s not doing so well without the dog either. It seemed that helping the dog made him feel better. Soon, Melvin is helping his neighbor and his waitress in life changing ways, and neither party can really figure out why.
The characters in this film are so wonderful and that leads to acting awards went to Nicholson and Hunt and a supporting nomination to Kinnear. Nicholson is lovable and horrible at the same time. He’s always a joy to watch, but here, it’s a new kind of joy. He’s sweet at times, almost as oddly cute as that little dog, perhaps they were competing. And yet, racial slurs and heartbreaking insults flow from his mouth. Kinnear is a breath of fresh air and ranges from jubilant to utter despair with conviction.
And Hunt, well…she’s better than Kate Winslet, so good enough I guess. Just the fact that As Good As It Gets won the two Acting awards in “The Titanic Year” is a feat. And a kick to Kate Winslet, have I mentioned that she didn’t win for Titanic? Oh good, cause she sucked. Don’t worry, I’ll elaborate more later.
Let’s not forget the dog. It’s the character everyone will love. I’m not the biggest animal fan, but I found myself squealing with delight at this cute little pups antics. He even jumps over the sidewalk cracks with Melvin.
I loved this movie, it’s adorable, moving and funny, but one thing really bothered me. A romance strikes up between Melvin and Carol. Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. What an odd couple. It’s not that I disapprove, but it just seemed too odd. Sure, a little sexual tension is fun in the film and gives Melvin more of a motive, but I think the story wouldn’t have suffered if the romance was taken down to simple friendship. A romance just seems too conventional for a film that tries to say so much more. The great line, “You make me want to be a better man,” could have just as much impact on a ‘just friends’ basis.
Melvin’s motives are never fully revealed, but it seems that helping people seems to help himself. He moves from cranky old lonely writer to having friends and meaning to life. It’s wonderful really. I recommend As Good As It Gets to anyone who enjoys life and wants to be happy. And if you like dogs, this one is the cutest ever, even I wanted it.
“When you first entered the restaurant, I thought you were handsome… and then, of course, you spoke.”