Movie Mom

Movie Mom


About Schmidt

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:R
Profanity:Very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Nudity and explicit sexual references
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, smoking, and drug use
Violence/Scariness:Mild
Diversity Issues:All characters white
Movie Release Date:2002

Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) sits at his desk as though he was standing at attention during a full-dress inspection. As he watches the clock move from 4:58 to 5:00, he is as clenched as a fist.

It is Warren’s last day on the job as an actuary for the appropriately-named Woodman insurance company. He has coped with a life of disappointment and emptiness through rigidity. He is stingy with words, money, and emotion. He does not confide in anyone but us, the audience and a little boy in Africa he “adopted” by agreeing to send him $22 a month. When Schmidt tells us that he looks over at his wife and wonders who that old woman is, we know that when he looks in the mirror he wonders who that old man is, too.

Schmidt’s daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis) is getting married to Randall, a man with a mullet who sells waterbeds (Dermot Mulroney), and this is just one more in a series of disappointments. When Schmidt’s wife dies, and then when he finds out that she was keeping a secret from him, he becomes completely unstuck from his moorings. He may have hated his life before, but at least he knew what he was supposed to do and had the luxury of blaming someone else for everything he did not like. His only satisfaction – that of playing by a set of rules he understood and supported in theory – now seems foolish. He takes the huge motor home his wife made him buy and sets off in it toward his daughter’s house. And in the grandest tradition of story-telling, it is a journey that is both physical and psychological.

He plans to try to stop the wedding, but after a lifetime of going along with other people’s rules, he has no idea of how to proceed. The best he can do is make a weak protest to his daughter, who lets him know that his support is much more valuable to her than his advice.

Nicholson is mesmerizing. His Schmidt is funny, irritating, pitiable, and utterly heartbreaking. Kathy Bates, as Randall’s mother, is magnificent in a performance that is full-bodied (in both senses of the word). The details of middle American ceremonies – the retirement party, the funeral, the wedding – are all just right, sharply observed but affectionate.

Parents should know that the movie includes very strong language and sexual references and situations, including adultery. Characters drink and smoke. There are tense and sad family scenes that may upset some viewers.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Schmidt confided in a little boy he had never met instead of any of his friends or family. What do you think he will do next? What should he do? What should he have done that would have made him happier?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Harry and Tonto with an Oscar-winning performance by Art Carney.



Previous Posts

Smile of the Week: A Boy and a Penguin
This reminds me a little of the depiction of a child's world in The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and Barnaby. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iccscUFY860[/youtube] Many thanks to Slate for this and the others on its list of the year's best ads.

posted 12:06:45pm Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Mel Torme and Judy Garland: Christmas Song
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaEedtRHklg[/youtube] I love it that Judy Garland sings "rainbows" instead of "reindeer."

posted 8:00:57am Dec. 21, 2014 | read full post »

What Happened to All the Great Quotable Movie Lines?
Michael Cieply has a fascinating piece in the New York Times about the movie lines we love to quote and why there don't seem to be any new ones. Look through all of the top ten lists of the year, and see if you can think of one quotable line from any of them. That doesn't mean they aren't well wri

posted 3:58:57pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

George Clooney and the Cast of Downton Abbey
You don't have to be a fan of "Downton Abbey" (or "Mr. Selfridge") to love this hilarious spoof, with guest appearances by Jeremy Piven, George Clooney and the Absolutely Fabulous Joanna Lumley. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ryo7fqdmcGQ?rel=0" frameborder="0"] [

posted 1:43:50pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Ask Amy Says: A Book on Every Bed
I love to remind people about Amy Dickinson's wonderful "Book on Every Bed" proposal: Here’s how it happens: You take a book (it can be new or a favorite from your own childhood). You wrap it. On Christmas Eve (or whatever holiday you celebrate), you leave the book in a place where Santa is

posted 12:00:42pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.