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About Schmidt
Artist: Nicholson/Davis/Mulroney/Bates
Format: DVD
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Here's what's good about Schmidt: Jack Nicholson, who manages to keep his eyebrowsfrom backflipping onto his scalp long enough for us to believe he's a retiredinsurance salesman named Warren R. Schmidt. He's even got a wife his own age!

Perhaps sharing a bed with another sexagenarian is what's keeping Jack's infamousSchmidt-eating grin under control, as the bored and retired Warren barely showsa trace of smirk. Then again, maybe it's his daughter's upcoming nuptials toa cheesy salesman with a pyramid scheme and a haircut that would send BillyRay Cyrus screaming for a Flowbee.

"About Schmidt" is an "Easy Rider" for the AARP set. Once Warren's naggingwife bites it in an early reel, he fires up the Winnebago for a trek acrossthe plains states. His destination may be his daughter's wedding in Denver,but what he's really looking for is some meaning in his life. During the trip,he conveys his desperate struggle to place his life in context to Ndugu, a six-year-oldAfrican child he has sponsored through a relief organization. These ramblingmissives, delivered in voice-over, are some of the film's sharpest material.

So what's not so good about Schimdt? Alexander Payne, the director and co-screenwriter(he and Jim Taylor adapted Louis Begley's novel of the same name). Payne netteda Golden Globe for the writing, which shouldn't be surprising, considering thata.) the condescending attitude he shows towards the people of his native Omahamatches the way the rest of the world views much of North America, and b.) theGlobes are awarded by the Hollywood foreign press. U.S.A! U.S.A!

While no one can accuse Payne of coastal snobbery, fly-over country is a softertarget than Fred Rogers wrapped in Charmin. There is poignancy here-his lyricalcamerawork keeps the satire afloat before the script begins its attrition, whichoccurs at roughly the same time that we're offered jokes about waterbeds. Shortlyafter that we get to see Kathy Bates naked.

After you're done extinguishing that image from your burned retinas, you cancheck out the extras: nine deleted scenes, five alternate "Woodman building"openings, and the good ol' theatrical trailer.
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