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As Good as It Gets

As Good as it Gets (1997)
Director: James L. Brooks
Rated: PG-13

This movie never gets old for me. I can watch it over and over again as long as a year or two have passed. But sometimes, I can watch it even closer together on the timeline. It really depends. I recently picked this up on Laserdisc to avoid the inflated out of print cost of blu ray, and also because I wanted to access the director''s commentary. I don't think there are many more modern films that have the same kind of care and goodness as this movie does, and so I want to talk about it for a little while and hopefully jot down what it is about the film that I like so much.

The acting is fine across the board. Greg Kinnear's portrayal of a gay painter seems spot on from my own sheltered view of such characters. Jack Nicholson humbles himself perfectly, but also offends and bites into the screenplay in equal measure. All the supporting cast are great, including a cameo from Harold Ramis as a house doctor. The star of the show, and the single most powerful acting job comes down to Helen Hunt - who does so much with her eyes and her mannerisms, that I could not believe how incredible she made me feel. She embodies the writing so well and just brings all of the emotions to life at literally the drop of a hat.

Early on in the film we see her character get upset waiting on Nicholson's character at a restaurant. Immediately she shooshes the rest of the film and burrows her pained eyes into her rude customer. This will not be the last time she does this, either. Hunt's acting in this movie is astounding, and there's really not much else I can describe about it other than it's truly amazing what she is able to do, to not only ground the film around her, but to transcend the rest of the characters into a bittersweet reality. She is super cool, headstrong and charming, but also very fragile and devastated.

I'd say from A to Z that the writing of As Good as it Gets is just about perfect. We're treated to shocking scenes of lewd behavior, but then are quickly ushered away into scenes of deep feelings of sorrow. Nicholson breaks down at his front door when he realizes his new best friend, a small dog, will be returning home to his neighbor, no longer a companion. It is the little moments like this that stack up on top of itself, making the experience of this film able to be enjoyed over and over again. So many layers, so much great comedy writing, and plenty of dramatic turns.

This may just well be one of my very top movies of all time. I have quite a few films I try and keep near the top of the heap but there is simply not enough room to address them all in a quick conversation. I love this movie, and whatever small instances of problems it may have in way of telling the story or convincing us that Hunt would ever end up with Nicholson, I forgive.