As Good As It Gets (1997)

The new romantic comedy from James L. Brooks (BROADCAST NEWS, TERMS 
OF ENDEARMENT) is a hoot.  Jack Nicholson sinks his fangs into yet 
another role of a lifetime as Melvin, an obsessive-compulsive Man-
hattan writer whose cranky, cursing, confrontational tendencies are 
in grave danger of being humanized by three beings:  a struggling 
single mom (Helen Hunt), a wounded gay artist (Greg Kinnear), and 
said artist's small dog.  Politically incorrect hilarity ensues, 
but also a few tears, as Mel can break a heart as quickly as he 
warms one.  In fact, the film covers a range of emotions that's ar-
guably *too* wide for it's own good.  The big (but not crippling) 
problem is the tone, which is susceptible to the same split-second 
shifts that Nicholson's character is.  (Yeah, it's fun to see him 
turn on a dime; it's another matter entirely when the movie wants 
to.)  Then there's the story, which feels more than a little con-
trived.  We're asked to believe a whole lot in this one, the least 
of which is the grave age (and experiential) difference between Mel 
and his love interest, well-played by Ms. Hunt.  How odd, I must 
say, to enjoy a romance that has you rooting for the two to stay 
*apart*.  With Cuba Gooding Jr., Shirley Knight, and Skeet Ulrich.  
And the song sung at the piano by Jack is, indeed, Monty Python's 
"Always Look On The Bright Side of Life."  (Rated "PG-13"/138 min.)

Grade: B+

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: December 21, 1997

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