Studio: New Line
Film Length: 125 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish
It's hard not to like Jack Nicholson. As
an actor, Nicholson is in a class by himself. After
a decade of roles in second-rate horror and
motorcycle movies, Jack Nicholson's big opportunity
arrived when Rip Torn stepped out of Easy Rider in
1969. For the nearly 35 years that followed, the
actor has amassed a memorable body of work that
includes One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, The
Shining, As Good As It Gets, Terms Of Endearment,
The Last Detail, Ironweed and Chinatown.
Over the years, how many of us haven't interjected
a famous Nicholson quote into a conversation such
as You can't handle the truth! or Heeere's
Johnny? With his trademark cheshire-cat grin,
and devilish attitude, Jack Nicholson is the most
popular and celebrated actors of our generation.
Fans of Nicholson have cause to celebrate once
again. In his latest film, About Schmidt,
Nicholson gives the most brilliant performance
of his career. The film is a total departure
from anything the actor has done before. Gone are
the wild hair, raised eyebrows and Cheshire-grin
that have become a trademark of his films. Here,
the actor becomes an "everyman" that may be so
easy to identify with, it might scare you.
Warren R. Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) is an
insignificant insurance employee of the Woodmen
Company in Omaha, Nebraska retiring after years
of service at the age of 66. As the film opens,
we watch Warren sit in his nondescript office,
watching the final moments of his career tick
away -- an opening that gives us a taste of the
dryness of his Midwestern life.
Warren Schmidt's life is a bleak one. Married for
42 years, his wife, Helen (June Squibb) is kind
and loving, but is somewhat of a stranger to him.
She has kept the house clean, made him cheese
sandwiches exactly the way he likes them, and has
convinced him to buy an R.V. so they can travel
When Helen suddenly passes away, Warren finds
himself suddenly alone. He tries to persuade
his daughter, Jeannie (Hope Davis), to stay longer
after Helen's funeral, but she has to get back to
her job in Colorado and to the preparations to marry
her fiance, Randall Hertzel (Dermot Mulroney), a
mullet-headed dolt who Warren has never really
liked nor trusted. Warren has always felt that his
daughter deserved better in life, and now with his
wife gone, Warren makes it his mission to get
into his new R.V. and travel out West to convince
Jeannie to call the wedding off.
Director Alexander Payne not only takes us alongside
Warren on his incredible journey, but puts us
inside Warren's head as we hear his innermost
thoughts through letters he has written to a six-
year-old African boy named Ndgugu, a child he has
sponsored through a TV infomercial. This device
allows us to peer into Schmidt's tortured psyche.
About Schmidt is not a feel-good film. It
forces you to view the world through the eyes of
a real, often sad man -- someone who you may be
able to identify with. It could also very easily
be a film about any one of us at the end of our
How is the transfer?
New Line Cinema is very consistent with providing
first-rate transfers to DVD transfers and I expected
and got nothing less here. Print is in flawless
condition and sports an image that is extremely
clear, a bit on the soft side, but well detailed.
The colors of this film are as subdued as Warren
himself, but are nicely rendered throughout. Chalk
this up as another great transfer from New Line!
The DVD contains both a 5.1 Dolby Digital and
DTS soundtrack. Audio comes across with wide
frequency range and dynamics. Dialogue is very
clear and distinct in the center channel with
a nice sense of audio separation across the front
channels. I'm not quite sure if a DTS track was
necessary here, as most of the film's audio is
front-heavy with very little use given to the
What sort of surprises me is that considering this
is New Line title, and one of their biggest theatrical
films of last year, there isn't a heck of a lot
of supplemental material here.
(these are deleted scenes)
There are 9 deleted Scenes presented here.
Each contains a text introduction by director
Alexander Payne. While this sort of text introduction
is an odd sight to find, it does carefully point
out the reasons why these scenes had to be removed.
Many of the scenes presented here are extensions of
already existing material, removed to quicken up the
overall pacing. Some of the highlights include:
* A restaurant scene where Warren steps back in
the spotlight and takes careful notice of the
eating habits of the people around him.
* Jack awakens to the sounds of a very-familiar
sounding vacuum and demands that his future
son-in-law immediately turn it off.
* Warren is arrested in a Supermarket after
he decides to avoid long check-out lines by
* After fleeing the trailer park, Schmidt is
stopped by a patrol officer
* In a little tribute to Five Easy Pieces,
Schmidt finds himself in a restaurant facing a
waitress that offers "no substitutions."
In the Woodmen Tower Sequences we get five
short films about the Woodman Tower. These are all
very unique ideas as to what the opening shots of
the film could have looked like. May not be
interesting for everyone. Includes text introduction
from director Payne.
(length: approx. 13 minutes)
In addition to the film's original theatrical
trailer, there are trailers for I am Sam
and Unconditional Love.
About Schmidt is an intellectually provocative
and emotionally touching film. Watch it with care,
for this may be a wake-up call for some of you. Time
is short and it's running out fast.
A great transfer from New Line, and though the
supplements are streamlined, I highly recommend
this film and DVD.
Release Date: June 3, 2003
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality