January 23, 2003
about schmidt

honestly. i would never call myself a fan of the mid-west expose on lower middle class america. in, let me stress it again, the MID-WEST. doldrums are boring. motor homes are passe. i think you get my point. however, other than the typically slow pace and close revelations of what it means to be retired, middle class, white american male, the movie has some stunning good points.

1) kathy bates. naked. in a hot tub. i am giving that secret away right here and now. you have not LIVED till you see an old, unattractive, sagging boobs actress bare it all for the camera. right there in front of you. larger than life. and with the potential of water buoyancy. i was aghast. but in a good way. a way that screamed internally, "right on, sista!" fight back against the anemic naked models. fuck 'em anyway.

2) ndugu. the first letter-sheer brilliance. the second letter-still good. the third letter-wearing a trifle thin. the fourth letter-shit, give it a rest already, willya? see, jack nicholson's character adopts this african boy named ndugu, who draws him pictures and benefits from the $22 a month or whatever it is. and in return schmidt writes him these horrific letters detailing all his petty and personal miseries. hates his wife. hates his daughter's fiancee. loves his daughter. still a part of his job (lie). his wife died. he's going to stop the wedding. he "found" himself. and so on. and then because of this letter he gets from the sister of mercy on behalf of ndugu, his life suddenly acquires meaning. even though all along he has been nothing more than a poor sap who can't even make a fucking sandwich for himself or do his laundry. and who tried to ruin his daughter's only happiness. and never appreciated his wife. right. but $22/month makes his life have meaning because SOMEONE is going to remember him when he dies. and that someone is an african kid with lice and plentiful diseases on the other side of the globe who probably doesn't even read the letters or know anything about it. riiiiiiight. perhaps my common sense and bitter cynicism is cutting a little too deeply into the awe-inspiring life changing moment they were trying to convey. but no no i think really they were trying to be ironic themselves but failed miserably.

3) the high point of this movie is in the details. little things. like how schmidt always sleeps with one leg outside the covers, trapping them down on top of the other leg. and how his coat sleeves were always too big for him, making him look continually awkward and childish in his own clothing. the speech patterns of dermot mulroney as the daughter's fiancee. and his ponytail. oh lordy. plus schmidt's walk. feet pointed outwards and slightly to the side. verra verra slowly. with the equally too big pants.

i don't think i really recommend this movie. unless, like jason who i saw it with, you LIKE mid-west irony-dramas. in which case--wholewhearted approval of you seeing this movie is what i've got. but if you're more like me...eh....see ummm...maybe some mary kate and ashley olsen action. shut up! it's a sickness!

Posted by michele at January 23, 2003 09:25 PM