Time: 125 mins.
Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Nicholson) and Best Supporting Actress (Bates).
SYNOPSIS: Warren Schmidt is forced to deal with an ambiguous future as he enters retirement. Soon after, his wife passes away and he must come to terms with his daughter's marriage to a man he does not care for and the failure that his life has become.
BOTTOM LINE: Payne unleashes his unusual sensibilities in this discomforting comedy about a man attempting to find some meaning to his life. Nicholson plays the Midwest insurance retiree Warren R. Schmidt to perfection, giving his most soulful and subtle performance in years. Who knew he could embody normal so well? He carries this film, tackling the big question most human beings continually contemplate Does my life really matter? with humor, anger, fear, disgust and ultimately resignation.
After being forced to retire, the sudden death of his wife sends him spiraling out of control, leaving him nothing but time to get reacquainted with himself. His quest for answers is one many of us will face, though one can hope the journey won't be as rocky. The impending nuptials of his daughter finally sparks his parental instincts, especially after he meets his new in-laws. He believes he has a new purpose to stop her from marrying so obviously beneath herself and is stunned when she fails to see the light.
If his opinion means nothing to the one human being left on the planet who loves him unconditionally, then what else is there to live for? Like George Bailey in , Warren is saved from a future of hopelessness by a most unlikely source that's as amusing as it is heartwarming.
Though I wasn't stunned by Jack's performance (he is one of Hollywood's best after all), his unlikely turn here makes this often painful journey of self-discovery one we can relate to and laugh at. Bates is also brilliantly funny as the flamboyant mother of the groom who welcomes Warren with an open heart and roving hands. She gives the film a real spark that perfectly contrasts with Nicholson's gloominess. An entertaining and intelligent take on life for those who like their comedy on the dark side.