"You make me want to be a better man."
I finally got around to watching this touching and funny film directed by James L. Brooks that stands out thanks to some wonderful performances and memorable characters. As Good As it Gets is proof that actions are louder than words because despite how cruel and mean Nicholson's character is, he does incredible and kind things for others. In a way this film reminded me of David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook as I found both films to be difficult to follow at first due to the lack of a likable character, but once we get to know who these people are we forgive their flaws and end up routing for them. Both Nicholson and Helen Hunt give excellent performances, and their Oscar wins were well deserved in my opinion. As Good As it Gets is the very definition of charm, and the screenplay written by Mark Andrus (Life As a House) shines thanks to some incredible performances. I really enjoyed this film and found myself laughing through most of the scenes. This is one more film I can eliminate from my shame list, and I'm glad I finally got to experience this romantic comedy which also has a lot to say about overcoming illness.
We are introduced to Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson), a cranky but successful author who suffers from OCD. He lives on his own in a beautiful apartment where he spends most of his time writing. He always goes out on his daily breakfast ritual which consists of walking to a nearby cafe without touching anyone or stepping on any cracks. He always sits in the same place at the cafe and always demands to be served by the same waitress, whose name is Carol (Helen Hunt). Carol is actually the only one in the cafe who stands his constant outbursts and cruel comments. Melvin's daily routine changes through two events that end up affecting his life. First, his homosexual artist neighbor named Simon (Greg Kinnear) suffers an accident and Melvin unwillingly accepts to take care of his dog in his absence. Second, Carol's son, Spencer (Jesse James) gets ill and she quits her job. Not accepting the fact that Carol isn't there to serve him, Melvin tries to find her in order to restore order back to his life. These series of events force Melvin to change his routine and at the same time he forms an unlikely friendship with Carol and Simon proving that he isn't as bad as he seems to be.
The performances by each one of the talented actors are the heart and motor of this film. Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt share an incredible chemistry together. It's funny how despite never being able to share his feelings towards her and always saying the wrong things, it becomes clear that she does inspire him to become a better person. The supporting cast is also incredible here, especially Greg Kinnear and Cuba Gooding Jr. who deliver several funny scenes. I was partial to Brooks's work considering I had only seen How Do You Know which didn't work for me and Spanglish which I did enjoy, but As Good As it Gets is without a doubt his best work thanks to an unbelievable cast. This is a smart and funny film, which also could be cruel at times, but it was well balanced. Despite the schmaltzy story it still worked thanks to the characters that carried this film. It's hard not to leave this film with a smile on your face.