As Good As It Gets is a truly magnificent feel-good comedy that through a detailed look on its three main characters is able to draw viewer’s attention right from the very first moments. It’s full not only of brilliantly clever laughable sequences, but also of so many realistic notions and situations, which can actually happen in anyone’s life. From the creative mind of the great James L. Brooks comes a story that contains so many wonderful and unexpected twists, combining for an on-screen relationship that no one will ever suspect.
Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is an obnoxious, pedantic, obsessive-compulsive (there are many other adjective that obviously come to mind about his persona) writer, who doesn’t give a damn about nobody else’s feelings but his. He leads a life of pure selfishness, devoid of any friends, lovers or partners. He loves to make fun of his homosexual neighbor and artist, Simon (Greg Kinnear), and his cute little doggy named Verdell. Already in the first scene he shovels this adorable puppy down the waste chute. Even though he knows that everybody actually hates him, the thought of it doesn’t really concern him. Following his every day routine (the hilarious strolls around New York City, when he omits chewing gum on the pavement) he eats breakfast at a nearby diner, where he orders only through one particular waitress, Carol (Helen Hunt). And all those activities would probably never change, if it weren’t for a few sudden events that took place and turned his peaceful life upside down.
First of all, Simon is hospitalized after he becomes a victim of an unexpected assault and Melvin has to take care of his dog (discreetly forced by Simon’s friend and art dealer Frank). Second of all, Carol has to stay in at home and look after her sick son that one day. When Melvin comes to the restaurant and sees that she isn’t there, he is so frustrated and angry that…he arranges a private doctor and full medical care for Carol’s son, just so she can get back to work and serve his meals. A bit eccentric, don’t you think? On top of this Simon realizes that he doesn’t have any more money and has to take a trip to his parents’ home in order to ask them for a loan. And who would drive him there? His good old buddy Melvin. He also asks Carol to come along, and she does so feeling a bit indebted to him. And believe me, totally hilarious and surprising things happen as the three unlikely pals travel through the country in a fancy convertible. Melvin suddenly decides that he has to get a hold of his true feelings and maybe finally let them out. Carol realizes somewhere on the way that Melvin can be really cute when he tries to, so she might actually give him a chance after all. Simon finds his true calling once again, which ends up making Melvin a little jealous. And what finally comes out of this very interesting threesome accounts for many heartwarming laughs, which is what a great comedy should always be able to do.
Jack Nicholson is simply brilliant. Even though he plays a really nasty character, his performance is exactly the opposite. One is able to find some deep emotions in this seemingly emotionless man. He plays this part in a fresh, convincing, and utterly enjoyable manner in every single scene. No one else would be more appropriate for that role.
Helen Hunt in a Oscar-deserving role as a woman, who wants to get something for herself this one time, after all those years spent on looking after a son. She simply lets go of every problem that’s been troubling her and goes with the flow to find a greater meaning in her peculiar bond with an older, but certainly handsome, man.
Greg Kinnear is a hilarious addition to the group, with the very persuasive performance as a very gentle and subtle guy, who has to go through a series of bizarre adventures just to find a real sense in his art.
All in all, As Good As It Gets is one of the finest comedies build up on an analysis of completely different character traits, which, when put together, combine for a fantastic and lively cinematic experience. Clever and joyful dialogues, well-structured story and the mesmerizing passion coming out of the remarkable cast merge beautifully to create a top-notch comedy that everyone should watch at least once.