Warren Schmidt (Nicholson) is about to taste a not so sweet slice of life. When he retired, he and his wife Helen had big plans, but an unexpected twist changed everything. Now, all of Schmidt's attention is focused his da... more »ughter's upcoming wedding to a loser waterbed salesman. From meeting hippie parents to sponsoring a Tanzanian foster child, Schmidt embarks on a search for answers...and discovers that life is full of trick questions.DVD Features:
DVD ROM Features
Theatrical Trailer:Deleted Scenes - 9 scenes Woodmen Sequences Theatrical Trailer - 16X9 Widescreen More theatrical trailers from New Line: Unconditional Love I Am Sam Link to Original Website Childreach.org link« less
Mark H. (djmark) from MONTEREY PARK, CA Reviewed on 10/16/2020...
This movie has the slow peaceful vibe of David Lynch's 'straight story', but the ride and emotional tugs are worth the trip. A Man retires, plans to spend time with his wife on their new RV and plans go awry.
Lessons learned, laughter and tears all played out in an engaging story.
K. K. (GAMER) Reviewed on 1/18/2015...
I decided to watch this movie and again. It was actually pretty good. Worth the watch.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Kristian L. (Katomine) from PRESCOTT, AZ Reviewed on 9/18/2013...
Such a great film. Jack Nicholson once again excels in a great role!
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Tracy B. (MooVeeFreak) from CARTHAGE, TN Reviewed on 3/24/2011...
Jack Nicholson, in one of his less well known roles as Warren Schmidt, really does excel one again in a really touching performance. One which is was Oscar nominated along with Kathy Bates( in an hilarious performance.) One to watch!
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sharon C. (Sierrastar) from BLYTHEWOOD, SC Reviewed on 8/21/2010...
I think parts of this movie were good but I did not really care for Nicholson and I have seen him in better roles. It is not a keeper as far as I am concerned
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Gerald R. from RACINE, WI Reviewed on 7/6/2010...
Plenty of reviews already, but I feel so strongly about this movie that I am taking the trouble to add one more. This is a solid story with great use of the problems in our supposedly classless society when different classes step across the lines. Wonderful acting, good story, esp for a real pizza lover. The movie deserves four stars, minimum.
After we had seen the movie, my job caused a move to the northeast so we enjoyed Mystic pizza in the actual restaurant several times. It was also availabe in the frozen foods section of grocery stores. Fine pizza, better movie.
2 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
Linda S. from CHICOPEE, MA Reviewed on 2/16/2010...
Jack Nickelson was a dissapointment. The film was very slow~moving. Though the themes of being "successful" and family interactions hit close to home, closures to events were shallow and needed more substance.
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Re E. from YUCAIPA, CA Reviewed on 11/7/2009...
A man has some lessons to learn as his life moves past retirement, among other life changing challenges. Jack Nicholson does a good job, as always.
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Lewis P. (Turfseer) from NEW YORK, NY Reviewed on 4/25/2009...
Definition of the Q.P.I.D. (Quirky Prententious Indie Dramedy
*** This comment may contain spoilers ***
'About Schmidt' is an example of a quintessential type of film which I term the Q.P.I.D. (short for 'Quirky Pretentious Indie Dramedy'). The Q.P.I.D. usually has a sad-sack protagonist who on the surface doesn't like himself. He must undergo a journey of self-discovery before he finds his 'true nature'. We can only understand the self-discovery in terms of the sad-sack protagonist's relationship to the antagonists in the movie—who usually are a class of people who are beneath his station. The 'self-discovery' will always reflect the unconscious double-edged (both pretentious and contemptuous) message of the film's writer/director (in this case, Alexander Payne) which is revealed in the form of 1) an epiphany, where the sad sack has reclaimed a long-lost kindly nature as well as 2) the retention of a feeling of smug superiority.
Our sad sack protagonist in question is Warren Schmidt, a Nebraska actuary who has just retired after many years of service for a drab insurance company. From the opening shots, the Midwest itself is depicted as a drab, dull and routine place to live one's life. Schmidt represents the typical Midwesterner who is cut off from his emotions. His wife is not only matronly looking but thoroughly unappealing (the closeup on her armpit and backside as Warren narrates his litany of the things he doesn't like about her sets the tone of contempt the viewer is supposed to feel about the characters Warren is pitted against throughout the film).
Soon we're introduced to a whole host of quirky unlikeable losers. There's phony Gary, Warren's replacement at the insurance company, who promised to keep in touch with Warren at his retirement party but is fast to get away from him when Warren shows up at the office looking for company. And what about Ray, Warren's supposed best friend? It turns out that Warren discovers a treasure trove of old letters detailing his affair with Warren's wife many years in the past.
The family members are even worse. Randall, the water bed salesman and Warren's son-in-law has no guilt feelings about trying to suck Warren into participating in a pyramid scheme while he's in a period of mourning over the recent death of his wife. And Warren's daughter, Jeannie, has fallen for the seedy Randall and will not listen to her father as he tries to convince her that her fiancé is a low-life. Randall's mother, Roberta, thinks nothing of trying to seduce Warren while they're in a hot tub together (a word of caution: try to avoid the brief but unflattering shots of actress Kathy Bates' breasts while she's in the hot tub). Are there any sympathetic characters in this movie?
There's a framing device in 'About Schmidt' where Warren signs up as the sponsor of a young boy from Tanzania through one of those 'adopt-a-foreign-child' agencies. Warren's 'letters' to 'Ndugu', the Tanzanian child (who we never meet) are wholly inappropriate and reflect his inability to connect with other people. Nonetheless, Jack Nicholson's dry narration of his communications with the boy end up being the only truly amusing aspect of the film.
Following the sudden death of his wife (perhaps one of the few honest and realistic scenes in the movie), Warren basically starts to decompensate; without his wife, his house becomes a mess and he ends up looking like a homeless bum. Egoless Warren's slide into 'despair' is supposed to be funny—Payne wants us to laugh at him (not with him). Soon Warren narcissisticly decides to drive out to visit his daughter in Denver in his 35 foot Winnebago (motorized trailer) but she rebuffs him.
Warren then drives around the Midwest in his journey of self-discovery. Before having his epiphany where he can 'forgive' his wife, Warren makes an ugly pass at a woman inside a trailer in a trailer park. Somehow Warren comes to realize that the pass was 'uncool' and now he sits underneath the stars and realizes that maybe his wife wasn't so bad after all. Warren suddenly has become a bit sensitive—he has feelings of shame! But Warren's transformation rings hollow—the film's scenarist cannot disguise his own feelings of contempt for his characters (the wife was depicted as so unlikeable, how can we have feelings of sympathy for her?).
Has Warren really become a kinder and nobler human being at the end or has he simply learned to be more tactful? During the wedding toast, Warren does display a new found set of social skills. He tactfully toasts the bride and groom (as well as the groom's family) without displaying his true feelings (it's obvious that he's still contemptuous of the dysfunctional family as we see him run into the bathroom, almost ready to throw up!).
Schmidt reflects Writer/Director Payne's own voice. It's a pretentious voice that seeks undeserved accolades. On the one hand, he wants us to applaud Schmidt's self-discovery—but at the same time Schmidt remains smugly condescending to those all around him. There's one exception however—his bond with the Tanzanian child who he's never met. For the child, Schmidt is able to muster a few tears as well as a smile. The dull insurance actuary wasn't dull (and wasn't such a sad sack) after all. Schmidt (Payne) belongs to a class of the chosen few who are alive—who can feel. The Everyman rises above his conformist milieu—he's got a heart but also prides himself on setting himself above the neurotic losers—the lowlifes who are unable to express emotions.
The Q.P.I.D. can never display the honesty of its convictions. The film's scenarist unconsciously creates an entire class of straw men who he easily is able to shoot down. The hero's transformation into a sensitive soul is always unearned and undeserved--at its core, there is only contempt and a smug sense of self-satisfaction!
1 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Barbara M. Reviewed on 1/22/2009...
I found this movie hilarious. Schmidt is a complaining self-focused narrow curmudgeon who finds himself retired without a wife to wait on him hand and foot and suddenly without purpose. When his daughter decides to marry Schmidt plans a cross country trip to her wedding and begins to widen his horizons. His self-revealing letters to his overseas adopt-a-child are hilariousily inappropriate. They begin with complaining about his wife to bemoaning her death and we are releaved at the end to find....oh,no I can't tell. You just have to see this unusual comedy.
3 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
THE UNEXAMINED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 06/08/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is about Warren Schmidt, a Nebraskan in his mid sixties, who is newly retired from his job as assistant vice president for an insurance firm. He is clearly a man who is not in touch with his feelings or his life, living it by the book, so to speak. He is disconnected from the reality around him, living as unobtrusively as he can. This is evident right from the beginning of the film. His life really begins when he retires, as a series of life jarring changes occur. His wife of forty two years, Helen (June Squibb), suddenly dies. She is a domineering woman whom he loved on some level but for whom he was unable to express much feeling while she was still living, even though there were many things about her that irritated him. She, however, managed to have had a secret life of which he had not been a part. It seems that she was not all that satisfied with Schmidt, herself. It is an unwelcome surprise that colors his world when he discovers it but, at the same time, serves to begin to ease the pain of separation for him. There are some funny scenes that segue from this discovery.Their only child, Jeannie (Hope Davis), lives in Denver, Colorado and is about to get married to Randall Hertzel (Dermot Mulroney), a dimwitted, waterbed salesman whom Schmidt cannot abide. He learns some truths about the real status of his own relationship with his daughter, Jeannie, and it is not the idealized relationship that he thought he had. In fact, he learns just how disconnected he is from his daughter, who is really a veritable stranger to him, as was his wife. Moreover, not even his best friend, Ray (Lou Cariou), was whom Schmidt thought him to be.When Schmidt travels to Colorado for the wedding, he stays with the groom's mother, Roberta Hertzel, a much married, earthy, and passionate divorcee, who is comfortable with herself and not afraid to express her feelings. She is a sort of flower child/earth mother holdover from the late nineteen sixties, early seventies. She tries to make a connection with him but this proves to be too much for Schmidt, as he scurries for cover to the Winnebago in which he travels.Lacking an emotional connection with any other human being, Schmidt sponsors a six year old, Tanzanian child through a charitable agency, and begins sending him letters, detailing his life as he sees it. It is more of a catharsis for Schmidt, rather than an attempt at real communication with a child. This contrivance also serves to tell the viewer just how Schmidt perceives his life. When he receives a letter with something the child has sent him, the idea that someone has actually thought of him opens the emotional floodgates for Schmidt and unleashes all those repressed feelings of anger, sadness, loss, pain, suffering, in one fell swoop. Jack Nicholson gives an excellent performance as the repressed Midwesterner who only begins to get in touch with his feelings the end of his life spectrum. He gives a good account of a man who is making his way in, what is for him, uncharted territory. Funny, poignant and sad, it is a performance that is well nuanced. June Squibb is perfectly cast in the role of the Helen, Schmidt's wife. Her apple cheeked countenance and dumpy, matronly look exemplify the stereotypic senior citizen housewife. Helen's penchant for order and cleanliness is brought home by Ms. Squibb's performance, and Helen fittingly dies while vacuuming the laundry room. Kathy Bates is wonderful as the somewhat bohemian, earth mother figure in the film. Her much talked about nude scene was natural and in keeping with her role. I applaud her courage in doing it, given the emphasis on thinness in Hollywood. While many reviled her for doing it, hers is a much more realistic reflection of what the body of a woman in her fifties or sixties actually looks like. Let me tell you, Jack Nicholson's body doesn't look much better either, but he was not reviled for it. There still continues to be a double standard for men and women, when it comes to excess avoirdupois.Dermot Mulroney is terrific as the sensitive, easy going groom to be who seems to lack the full quid. Mulroney makes his character quite a likable one. Unfortunately, Hope Davis, as Jeannie Schmidt, serves to make her character a thoroughly unpleasant one. It is unclear, however, whether this was the intended effect. Howard Hesseman is wonderful as the groom's father, Larry Hertzel, and he gets a lot of mileage out of this bit part. Lou Cariou is excellent as Schmidt's erstwhile best friend, Ray.All in all, this a film well worth watching. The baby boomers out there should take note. It is still not too late to avoid ending up like Schmidt."
Facing the "golden" years with sorrow.
E. Bukowsky | NY United States | 12/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""About Schmidt" is a wonderful movie starring the great Jack Nicholson, who plays the hapless retiree, Warren Schmidt. Warren lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and he is put out to pasture after a long career with an insurance company. Warren hates retirement, for which he is ill-prepared. In addition, Helen, Warren's wife of forty-two years, irritates him with her annoying habits and idiosyncrasies. Worst of all, Jeannie, Warren's beloved only child, is engaged to a man whom Warren cannot stand.When Warren suddenly becomes a widower, he takes stock of his life, and he is appalled at how empty it is. In desperation, Warren starts to write rambling letters to his Tanzanian foster child, Ndugu. (Warren sends the child twenty-two dollars a month in response to a television appeal). Even though Ndugu is six years old and cannot read, Warren pours his heart into these letters as a means of venting his anger and frustration.Alexander Payne, who directed "About Schmidt" and shares credit for writing the fine screenplay, has done a commendable job of eliciting strong performances from an excellent cast. Kathy Bates is a hoot as Jeannie's future mother-in-law, and both Len Cariou and Howard Hesseman shine in small roles. The film, however, belongs to Jack Nicholson, who appears in practically every frame. Nicholson acts with his entire body. He does wonders with a raised eyebrow, a half-smile, a gesture or a glance. In one hilarious scene, Nicholson does battle with a waterbed and loses. Nicholson captures the very essence of Warren Schmidt, a man who will never be ready for the first day of the rest of his life. Don't miss "About Schmidt" if you want to see one of the best performances of this or any year."
A movie for grown ups that packs an emotional wallop
Lois Regen | Seattle, WA USA | 12/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jack Nicholson shines in his sensitive, tour de force performance as Warren Schmidt, the vice president of an insurance company who finds retirement anything but fulfilling. In fact, his world starts to crumble in short order, along with his relationships, his priorities and his very sanity. A superficial reading would pigeonhole Schmidt as Willy Loman retread, minus the heart condition, but Alexander Payne plumbs deeper emotional currents with this wonderful film - the sort of film that reminds you why you go to movies in the first place. To the director's credit, the film never crosses the line (so common in today's Hollywood "output") of ridiculing its characters and their sensibilities. Make no mistake: Midwestern middle-class values go under the magnifying glass, but just when the viewer starts to feel superior, zing! Payne pulls you back from the brink, and you find yourself caring deeply about Warren Schmidt and his universal predicament. The editing, the supporting cast (especially Kathy Bates), and the cinematography are well-nigh perfect, which allow Nicholson to soar. The layers of his character, a man who sees the truth but dares not express it to the people closest to him, come to a boil of mixed emotions of anger, fear and despair by the film's last scenes and transcendent finale."
Nicholson Delivers Another Oscar-Caliber Performance
Daniel V. Reilly | Upstate New York, United States | 01/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who is a part of Corporate America can sympathize with Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson)- He's dedicated his life to his job, and mere days after retiring, he not only finds all of his files in the company's trash, but finds himself obsolete and unwanted by his former co-workers as well....His feelings of purposelessness and isolation are further compounded by the death of his Wife, and the discovery of her long-ago infidelity with his best friend. Warren decides to hit the road in the mobile home his Wife loved, and head off to help his Daughter with her upcoming wedding. His future In-Laws, headed up by Kathy Bates, are a comedy gold-mine, and Bates provides one of the most jaw-dropping shocks/laughs in recent movie history. At it's heart, About Schmidt is a small film about the human condition, and Nicholson's wonderfully warm and restrained performance is perfect. The narrative device the film uses (Schmidt writing letters to his African Foster-child, Ndugu) allows Nicholson to show both the put-upon outer Schmidt, and the "Mad-as-hell-and-not-gonna-take-it-anymore" inner Warren. It's nice to see Jack in a more restrained role than what he's generally known for. It's a wonderful performance in a film full of wonderful performances."
Peter Koonz | Schenectady, NY United States | 12/30/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Warren Schmidt could be described in these existential terms:
"[He is] afflicted with a sort of aimless inertia" "[He] remains a cipher nearly to the story's end--dispassionate, clinical, disengaged from his own emotions." "[He] exhibits an extreme of resignation; however, his confrontation with `the gentle indifference of the world' remains ... compelling." [Quotes from the Amazon archives]
However, these descriptions are aimed at Monsieur Meursault, Camus' title character in The Stranger, not Warren Schmidt. Indeed, this connection between Schmidt and Meursault resonated with me throughout my viewing of About Schmidt. From the opening scene, where Schmidt sits in his antiseptic office waiting for 5:00pm (or is it Godot he waits for?), to the climatic speech given at his daughter's wedding, Jack Nicholson's character seems several steps removed from his own existence.
We come to find that Schmidt evolved into his current condition. Like an animal, trained and conditioned into submissiveness, Schmidt has learned to sit when he pees, listen rather than talk, and generally conform to the wishes of his wife. His feelings that early in life he held the potential to be something have been quashed and he now can only function in a robotic manner.
Through it all, however, the raw human emotions - the real Schmidt, bubble to the surface. We first see this in his initial letter to Ndugu, in which he slowly and then uncontrollable produces a litany of complaints against his wife Helen. Her death begins a journey of confused exploration for Schmidt. In a wonderfully comedic metaphor, the oversized RV, the Adventurer, becomes Schmidt's new home as he goes "On the Road." He reaches out to people in new ways, experiences things and see places he has been unfamiliar with, and he is seemingly primed for a rebirth.
In this light, how do we interpret the ending? Schmidt's speech at the wedding is not an honest exploration of his feelings. It seeks accommodation and includes small (perhaps damning) praise for his new in-laws. From the wedding, he travels straight home, making only one stop to visit an exhibit honoring past frontier explorers. By this point, Schmidt has sunk into despair, aware of the inconsequence of his life. Nicholson's look of horror is compelling and is perhaps a transcription of Munch's The Scream from one medium to another. Schmidt is a man who has reached the final stage of his life and has fully faced its meaninglessness.
However, in that moment of sad and painful revelation, Schmidt finds a letter written to him from the nun who helps raise his Tanzanian "foster son," Ndugu. It concludes by saying that Ndugu wishes him the best and, since Ndugu cannot read or write, he sends along a painting that he created just for Schmidt. Looking at that simple painting of two stick-people smiling and holding hands, Schmidt is overcome by emotion - honest emotion that we have not seen throughout the movie. Nicholson's face portrays a mixture of joy and pain that in itself should be qualification for an Oscar nomination.
Camus believed that men, thrust into a godless universe, must make individual moral decisions and thus create some small meaning. Perhaps this is what the tears at the end of About Schmidt are all about. "