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As Good As It Gets is the story of the unlikely bond that forms
between three New Yorkers who don't appear to have a chance in
hell at real happiness: an acid-tongued romance novelist (Nicholson),
a cafe server juggling the responsibilities of single parenthood
(Hunt), and a gay artist whose career is at a crossroads (Kinnear).
Their fates intertwine because of the fourth complicated character
in the piece, a dog named Verdell (played by newcomer, Jill).
Romantic Comedy - AS GOOD AS IT GETS is a romantic comedy with a central character who undergoes a transformation from a self-centered, irascible idividual to a reasonably decent human being. He's a compulsive/obsessive man, so there
are times when his behavior can be irritating. One of the main supporting characters is a homosexual and another is a single mother. In general, this is meant to be a "feel good" motion picture, and, as such, obeys most of the rules of the genre.
AS GOOD AS IT GETS is really two related movies in one, which explains the surprisingly long running time. The film is ambitious: it tries to wed a modern-day, non-supernatural version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL with a traditional romantic comedy. Director James L. Brooks, who does these kinds of movies
as well as anyone in Hollywood, has moderate success. AS GOOD AS IT GETS is not a positive triumph, but it does bring a smile to the face and, perhaps in some cases, a tear to the eye.
Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is
the most dysfunctional of men, an acidtongued romance novelist
who suffers from obsessivecompulsive disorder. Never one
to avoid confrontations, he takes pride in his ability to affront,
repulse, offend and wound. His targets are random; his aim reckless.
Leave an elevator in which he stands; cross a street on which
he walks. He is to be avoided at all costs, but some victims just
As part of Melvin's unwavering daily
schedule, he consumes an arteryhardening breakfast of bacon,
sausages and eggs at a local cafe. The only waitress willing to
stand up to his sarcastic tirades is Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt),
a single mother struggling to raise her chronically asthmatic
Simon Nye (Greg Kinnear) has the distinct misfortune of living across the hall from Melvin in their
West Village apartment building in downtown Manhattan. A talented
contemporary artist, Simon is a current darling of the New York
art world, reason enough to draw Melvin's verbal fire. His gay
lifestyle is thus only further grist for the novelist's malicious
These three New Yorkers none
of whom appears to have a chance in hell at finding real happiness
discover their fates intertwined because of the fourth
complicated character in the piece, an ugly, tiny dog named Verdell
(played by a newcomer, Jill).