This week I caught one of my favorite movies, As Good As It Gets. For those who haven’t seen it, Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is an obsessive-compulsive romance novelist. Melvin falls in love with the blunt, struggling single mother Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) and befriends his homosexual artist neighbor Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear).
This movie came out when I was 15 years old. I remember seeing it for the first time when I was 17, and I watched it on TV and later bought a copy on VHS. For some reason, this movie captured my heart when I was a teenager.
After rewatching it, I see why. This movie is packed with well-written one liners, an interesting (and believable) plot about acceptance and coping, and above all, it shows you can find happiness in the darkest times. For a moment, let’s to look beyond the basics of traditional romantic dramadies and see why this is a timeless must see.
The characters: Melvin is as obsessive compulsive as a guy can get. He separates his Skittles, doesn’t like animals, brings his own silverware to restaurants, won’t walk on cracks, etc. When he speaks, there is no filter. He frequently pisses people off and can make almost any social situation awkward. His character is refreshing, and everyone has a little Melvin in him/her. We are who we are, and the rest of the world either accepts us or they don’t. It’s not always easy, but it’s that simple.
It makes you think: The movie focuses on looking past ourselves and our problems to focus on someone else. All three major characters are significantly different and are forced to mesh together and coexist. It’s a great example of tolerance and acceptance, which we can all practice more. We can all care a little more and do something do help someone we know – even if it’s just to make them smile.
Realism: As Good As It Gets is exactly what the title states. It doesn’t play games or try to sugarcoat how awful things can be, and it shows how having the power of optimism can make things better. You can improve your life by either changing what you don’t like or accepting and letting go what you cannot change. Sometimes things are as good as they get.
Clever writing: This movie is full of one liners and great dialogue, which I admittedly appreciate more with age. When it comes to sappy romantic movies, Jerry Maguire‘s, “You complete me,” line is often thought of. Well, here are two for you: “You make me want to be a better man,” and “You’re the reason cavemen painted on walls.” Tom Cruise, eat your heart out.
If you haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it in awhile, you should. It’s a great flick and a reminder that we can be better people.