“Well, maybe I overshot a little because I was aiming at just enough to keep you from walking out.”
Jack Nicholson’s proclivity for playing eccentric characters always makes for an interesting watch. Be it the rebellious mental patient in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, the axe-wielding corrector in The Shining or the insane crime boss in The Departed, Nicholson’s versatility is immeasurable. Here’s an artist who takes his roles head-on and plays his characters with a certain flair. The fact that he received an Academy Award for this makes it reason enough to give a watch.
Glad I did.
Romantic comedy is not a genre I’ve been particularly fond of. Modern ones are filled to the brim with crass jokes, irrelevant philosophies and characters that rarely stay with you. Here’s a movie from the previous century which does none of that. While the plot is nothing to write about, majority of the attention is on the characters. It is led by an obsessive compulsive novelist Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson), who manages to aggravate everyone in close proximity. His neighbour Simon Bishop (Greg Kinnear), a gay artist, gets into an altercation prompting Udall to take care of his dog. Also taking part in this setting is Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt), a single-mother/waitress who is one of the few people who can stand Udall. Until she can’t.
While praise goes to all of the lead actors for their established performances, the real winner here is the screenplay. Written by director James L. Brooks and Mark Andrus, the dialogues are a treat. Nicholson’s ‘You make want to be a better man’ and Hunt’s ‘Who needs these thoughts?’ strike out as personal favourites but the entire movie is peppered with clever lines generating pure, unadulterated comedy as well as sadness at times.
There are times where it gets just sappy enough to turn into a drag but thankfully the movie is quick to bounce back on track. The mildly bizarre direction can be a bit disorienting in the beginning but its essential in order to set the tone which the viewer can get behind.
This makes me want better rom-coms.
Rating : 4/5