Jack Nicholson has become one of my favorite actors over the past few years. He has absolutely surprised me with the many great performances he has delivered in many films. I have re-watched many of his movies countless times and each time I find something new that I missed the first or second time around. About Schmidt is one of Nicholson’s best films where he delivers a quirky and even subdued performance quite different from many of his other films.
About Schmidt is about Warren Schmidt (Nicholson), a just retired insurance man who is trying to figure out what to do with the remainder of his life. His wife gives him several options such as traveling across the states in a Winnebago to which Warren nonchalantly agrees even though he has no intention to do so. He decides to foster a child in Africa where he writes the child hilarious in-depth letters about his life. Shortly into his retirement, Warren’s wife dies leaving him to fend for himself. His daughter and her fiancée, which Warren vehemently disapproves of, arrive for the funeral and tell Warren to make sure to come to their wedding in a few weeks. However, Warren and his daughter have a disagreement which leads to his daughter quickly departing.
Alone and bereaved, Warren decides to hop in the Winnebago for a long overdue road trip. He goes through a series of adventures before arriving for his daughter’s wedding where things come to head with Warren and his daughter’s fiancée’s family.
Nicholson’s performance as Warren is both funny and moving. Warren is a man who feels that he hasn’t done all that he wanted to do with his life which is further brought forth when he retires. He misses his job and desperately wants to prove that he can still be productive. He feels a profound emptiness when he sees how his life has turned out. He no longer has romantic feelings for his wife and barely knows his daughter. In an effort to counteract his feelings of inadequacy, Warren decides to take a road trip. He bumbles through several hilarious situations where his actions are misunderstood.
About Schmidt is a movie that questions what fulfillment means. Warren feels completely unfulfilled in his life and fears that he never made a mark in life. Director Alexander Payne does a remarkable job delving into this philosophical problem that everyone tries to solve at one time in their life. Nicholson delivers one of his best performances of all time playing a man attempting to change the course of his life as death looms ever so close. I highly recommend this movie for those who are fans of Nicholson and the familiar theme of trying to create meaning in one’s life.