About Schmidt

Warren Schmidt: Jack Nicholson
Jeannie: Hope Davis
Randall Hertzel: Dermot Mulroney
Helen Schmidt: June Squibb
Roberta Hertzel: Kathy Bates
Larry: Howard Hesseman
Christina Belford: Christine Belford

New Line Cinema presents a film directed by Alexander Payne. Written by Payne and Jim Taylor. Based on the novel by Louis Begley. Running time: 124 minutes. Rated R (for some language and brief nudity).

Central Theme
Most men live lives of quiet desperation and selfless acts of human connection are the only way our life makes a difference.

Warren is retiring at 66 having spent his whole life as an actuary at Woodman’s insurance in Omaha. The job offered security and he gave it his all, but it didn’t allow him to ¢â‚¬Ëœbecome the somebody he expected he would be as a younger man.’ He blames Helen for his failure to become who he might have become, but seems never to have explored what that alternative life might have been, choosing instead to go through the motions in his sad existence.

His daughter is about to marry a loser, but he can’t speak into her life because, though he loves her, his inattentiveness has lost him the right to be heard. His wife dies unexpectedly a few weeks after his retirement, and in going through her things, he discovers she had an affair years earlier with his best friend. But again, he feels he has no right to complain because he wasn’t always a ¢â‚¬Ëœking of kings’ and he ¢â‚¬Ëœlet her down.’

Warren is on all-too-late, big-time search for meaning, and in addition to a desperation trip through the past in his 35 foot Winnebago, he calls a televised toll-free number to sponsor an African child named Ndugu, to whom he begins pouring out his heart in unreciprocated letters.

His journey to his daughter’s wedding, which he feels destined to break up, places him in a number of disorienting relational situations and by the time he returns home from the wedding, we are as concerned about Schmidt’s life as he is.

And then he receives a letter from Ndugu and it ends the movie. The letter’s contents and the meaning thereof are for moviegoers and coffee discussions afterwards.

A brilliant performance from Jack Nicholson in a truly thought-provoking film. ¢â‚¬ËœAt the end of my life what difference have I made? None. None at all.’

Beliefs num
–The unexamined life is not worth living (and as one cynic said, the examined life makes you want to commit suicide.).
–It is possible to drift through life purposelessly.
–People who do so, blame others for their lack of accomplishment.
–Curiously, the purposeless life requires not allowing other people to actually penetrate your life, mind, and heart.
–It makes no sense to wait and ask life’s meaning questions when you’re in your 60’s.
–Life is short. Don’t waste another minute.

Questions Worth Discussing num
–How do people move from believing they have promise, to accepting a life they themselves don’t deem worth living?
–What is the rich life?
–What does it take to build a truly meaningful life?
–Is the misdirected life with passion better than a controlled life without passion?

Provocative Quotes byline
–If at the end of his life a man can say I did my job, he can enjoy rewards of a non-monetary kind.
==Ray at Schmidt’s retirement.
–Lately I find myself asking the same question. Who is this old woman who lives in my house?
–When I was young I thought I was special. I was going to be one of those guys you read about. But somehow it didn’t work out that way. Helen wouldn’t have allowed it.
==Schmidt looking over his life.
–My father didn’t think so much of you at first.
==Helen when Warren complains about Jeannie’s fiance.
–Anger is OK. God can handle it if we’re angry with Him.
==Pastor counseling an angerless Schmidt.
–You might want to take this opportunity to rethink things.
==Schmidt trying to convince Jeannie not to marry the eater-bed salesman.
–OK. Have it your way. You know best. You and your mother.
==Schmidt when Jeannie rejects his advice.
–Dad. Why did you get such a cheap casket?
==Jeannie upset at her dad’s decision for mom’s casket.
–All I know is I’ve got to make the most of every minute I have left. Life is short and I can’ t afford to waste another minute.
==Schmidt to Ndugu.
–This house is under new management and you’d never know the difference.
==Schmidt delusion as the dished and laundry pile up.
–The feeling I get about you is that you are a sad man.
==Woman in trailer park.
— Was I really the man you wanted to be with or were you disappointed and too nice to show it?
==Schmidt thinking about Helen.
–I wasn’t the king of kings all the time. I let you down. Can you forgive me?
==Schmidt ¢â‚¬Ëœtalking to Helen from the top of the minivan.
–People used to raise their eyebrows because I breast-fed him until he was almost five. And I say, you just look at the results!
==Roberta about her son.
–All of the sudden you’re taking an interest in what I do?
==Jeannie’s reaction to Warren’s advice.
–Did you know their sex life is white hot?
==Roberta telling Schmidt way more than he wants to know about his daughter and future son-in-law.
–I know we’re all pretty small in the big scheme of things and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference. But what kind of difference have I made? When I am dead and everyone who knew me is dead and nobody remembers I ever existed. What difference will I have made? None. None at all.
==Schmidt writes to Ndugu.
–Most teenagers will probably not be drawn to this movie, but they should attend. Let it be a lesson to them. If they define their lives only in terms of a good job, a good paycheck and a comfortable suburban existence, they could end up like Schmidt, dead in the water. They should start paying attention to that crazy English teacher.
==Roger Ebert

Posted in Movies, Staublog in January 4, 2003 by | No Comments »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

+ 47 = 52

More from Staublog