Review: As Good as it Gets (1997)

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Director: James L. Brooks
Writers: Mark Andrus and James L. Brooks
Director of Photography: John Bailey
Editor: Richard Marks
Music: Hans Zimmer
Production Designer: Bill Brzeski
Producers: Bridget Johnson, Kristi Zea and James L. Brooks
TriStar; PG-13; 130 minutes
Release: 12/97
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Shirley Knight, Yeardley Smith and Lupe Ontiveros

As Good as It Gets
Ralph Nelson/TriStar

Sharp, snappy writing and top-notch performances, especially from Nicholson, who's at his peak, lift As Good as It Gets from potential sitcom fare to comedy that's, well, as good as it gets. Reclusive misanthrope Melvin Udall (Nicholson) manages to offend just about everyone, even though he rarely leaves his Manhattan apartment. His occasional ventures out take him to the same restaurant, where he's waited on by the same waitress, salt-of-the-earth Carol (Hunt). Carol's the only waitress in the place tough enough to handle his constant carping and obsessive habits (he carries his own plastic eating utensils). Melvin's especially intolerant of his gay neighbor, Simon Bishop (Kinnear), and his dog, Verdell. After Simon is brutally beaten, Melvin takes in Verdell, and quite cloyingly, the pooch softens the hard ass. When Simon needs a lift to see his estranged parents in Baltimore, Melvin takes the driver's seat and Carol goes along for the ride out of a debt to Melvin. It's not hard to guess that Carol and Melvin eventually end up together. The fun's in watching the romance develop and destruct along the way. Kinnear's endearing turn as the gentle painter resurrects a career nearly destroyed by the utterly forgettable Dear God.

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