Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dear Jodie - As Good As It Gets

Dear Jodie:

Like you I just saw As Good As It Gets once in 1997 and not again until the other night.

Like you there were things I did not get the first time that tolled loudly the second time.

Unlike you, I was 40 when I saw it the first time.

In 1997 the performances, particularly Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear, rang loud and strong. I was not surprised in the least that Jack and Helen won Oscars for their wonderful portrayals, and wondered why Greg Kinnear didn't win anything.

I was surprised that it won Best Picture because the movie, at the time, didn't work for me as a whole. As a Romantic Comedy it didn't completely work for me because I didn't get the Happily-Ever-After feel at the end of the movie. Though Melvin is greatly improved, even, as you mentioned, forgetting to lock the door 5 times, and even deliberately stepping on the crack, I didn't see him "cured."  Even though Carol is more accepting of his fewer and fewer misanthropic slip-ups, I didn't get the feeling that she would be completely accepting of him as an obsessive-compulsive misanthrope.

I didn't get the happy ending in 1997, and that disappointed me.

That was the point I didn't catch until the other night. It wasn't a happy ending.  It was a happy beginning.

The movie, then, is not a Romantic Comedy. It's a movie of the redemption of four people:  Melvin, Carol, Simon, and ... yes, Spencer too.

All four get another chance thanks to . . . Verdell?  Yes, Verdell is the catalyst of the story.

This movie has as much in common with A Christmas Carol as with any Romantic Comedy you can mention.  That was what I missed in 1997.

That is where I caught it just the other night, and was delighted that I did.

If I had any criticism, I would love to have had just one thing (other than the hitting the hands when he missed the notes playing piano) of what made Melvin a misanthrope who wrote 62 romance novels?

I get that it happens.  In the history of music, Johannes Brahms was known in his own time as a "grouch," yet he wrote amazingly romantic music.  Stravinski described Sergei Rachmaninoff as "a six and a half foot scowl," yet Rachmaninoff's music is heartbreakingly romantic.

It's the why I wanted.

I won't ding it much for that, though.

My favorite line of all of the great lines was in the psychiatrist's office. "How can you diagnose someone as having obsessive-compulsive disorder and yet criticize him for not making an appointment?"

Like you, I give it a 9 out of 10.

Thanks, Graham!

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