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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "About Schmidt" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein

About Schmidt

Studio: New Line
Year: 2002
Rated: R
Film Length: 125 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish

Schmidt Happens

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
? 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
surround channels.

Special Features

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
, there are trailers for I am Sam
and Unconditional Love.

Final Thoughts

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
Please support HTF by using one of these affiliate links when considering a purchase.

Richard Kim

Senior HTF Member
Jan 29, 2001
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.
This is most likely due to director Alexander Payne, as his previous two films (Citizen Ruth and Election) were light on special features on DVD as well.

Definitely going to be picking this one up.


Stunt Coordinator
Dec 5, 2000
Thanks for the review Ron, I'll be picking this one up for sure. Definitely one of Jack's best (if not THE best). I've grown to appreciate it even more since seeing it at the theater.


Supporting Actor
Aug 8, 2000
Thanks for the review Ron, I'll be picking this one up as well. This seems like a title that New Line would have put under the Platinum Series banner but they haven't done that for some time now.

Kenneth Cummings

Supporting Actor
Aug 7, 2001
While I didn't care much for most of the Oscar choices this year, About Scmidt is something I do want to see. And judging from this review, I going to buy this movie and enjoy it.

Tim Glover

Senior HTF Member
Jan 12, 1999
Monroe, LA
Real Name
Tim Glover
Never saw this in theaters but have heard good things. Looking forward to seeing this. Nice review Ron.


Dec 19, 2002
Saw this in theaters 2 times...I'm a huge Jack fan...this is without a doubt one of his best...I loved everything about it...and broke town at the end...one of the best endings ever...cant wait...

Jim Rankin

Stunt Coordinator
Jan 31, 1999
Nice review Ron, I checked this one out at the theater and loved it. It alternatively is painful/funny to watch, and made me appreciate my family a whole lot more.

Ron Eastman

Second Unit
Aug 10, 2000
Great review, Ron.

I saw this the night it premiered (New York, LA and Omaha) and loved it. This movie is alternatively thought provoking and funny - hilariously funny for those who have lived in the Omaha area. You almost have to be local to "get" the mockery of the Woodmen tower cake, the indian arrowhead collection and especially The Great Platte River Road Archway Monument.

I'm really looking forward to owning this one. Thanks for the review.

Dave Scarpa

Senior HTF Member
Apr 8, 1999
Real Name
David Scarpa
I have'nt seen it yet but I'll be buying it, Can this be a bookend for American Beauty Perhaps?

Billy Fogerty

Stunt Coordinator
Aug 12, 2001
Funny,I couldn't wait to see this when it came out, all the hype about the acting and all. I was disappointed, to say the least. Nicholson has made many far better films than this one. I still say till this day, one of his better acting jobs was in " THE LAST DETAIL". I may rent About Schmidt for a second look,but for me it's not a keeper.


Supporting Actor
Feb 21, 2002
While I maintain that the final scene would have been better if they'd left to our imagination what the picture Ndugu drew looked like,
I will probably be picking this up also. Thanks for the review, Ron!

Dave Gorman

Supporting Actor
Jul 22, 1999
I was disappointed, to say the least.
Oh good, I thought maybe I was the only one. Even going into the movie with moderate expectations (as I'm usually disappointed with over-hyped movies), I was still disappointed. I didn't totally despise it, but am glad I saw it for free, and don't think I ever need to see it again.

At any rate, thanks for the review, Ron.


Senior HTF Member
Dec 28, 1998
"for this may be a wake-up call for some of you"

Definitely and Im 1/2 schmidts age.

The last minute was my favorite scene from any movie last year. :emoji_thumbsup:

Brian W.

Jul 29, 1999
Real Name
I bawled like a friggin' baby at the end. I don't know what higher compliment to give that moment than to compare it to Harry Bailey's toast at the end of It's a Wonderful Life: "To my brother George -- the richest man in town."

About Schmidt was one of my very favorite, if not my favorite movie of 2002. I will definitely be buying it.

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