Monday, March 26, 2007

A Case for Tolerance

(NOTE: Inspired by the Oscars, I've decided that, once a week, I'm going to try to share a movie that has made a significant impact on me. If nothing else, this will expose you to some of my idiosyncrasies.)

A few weeks ago, David commented ”what about all time favorite????”

That’s tough, I’m not sure that I have an all time favorite. But I can easily say that as far as Jack Nicholson movies go, there’s one that I believe is As Good As It Gets.

Why? I love the characters. All of them.
- The obsessive-compulsive, cantankerous, racist, homophobic writer
- The harried, single mom just trying to take care of her seriously ill son
- The cutest gay next-door neighbor ever
- The flaming art dealer
- The emotionally conflicted homosexual hustler
- The doctor willing to do what his wife told him to do
- The neurotic dog

I also like the message.

I think most people are like Mr. Udall in that they don’t like to be outside of their comfort zone. Maybe we’re not all that obsessive about it. Maybe we are.

But this movie reinforces the fact (at least to me) that when you connect with someone else ... when you reach out and do something good for someone else ... when you start caring for someone else more than yourself ... it makes your own life so much better. You always get something unexpected in return.

When was the last time you took dinner to your neighbor? Or pulled strings to help someone else? Or just made a special music mix to make a road trip more enjoyable?

Unfortunately, if you're like me, it's probably been too long.

* * *

Memorable Quotes:

Melvin Udall [to Verdell the dog]: Don't be like me. Don't you be like me!

Melvin [introducing Carol to Simon]: Carol the waitress, Simon the fag.

Frank Sachs: I grew up in hell! My grandmother has more attitude than you!
Melvin Udall: People who talk in metaphors oughta shampoo my crotch.

Frank Sachs: If there's a mental health organization that raises money for people like you, be sure to let me know.

Melvin: Can I ask you a personal question?
Simon: Sure.
Melvin: You ever get an erection over a woman?
Simon: Melvin...
Melvin: I mean, wouldn't your life be easier if you weren't...
Simon: You consider your life easy?
[long pause]
Melvin: All right, I give you that one.

Carol: Have you ever let a romantic moment make you do something that you knew was stupid?

Simon Bishop: I love you.
Melvin Udall: I tell you, buddy... I'd be the luckiest man alive if that did it for me.



JustJock said...

My favorite quote: "You make me want to be a better man." *snff*

JustJock said...

*or "sniff" is you want to be picky about it.

Ps said...

Would you believe--I Own a DVD of this movie--and have been meanig to watch it for AGES, but kept putting it off.(somehow it has been sitting on my shelf) Now i will.At least i dont have to go looking for it.

Diesel said...

I really liked the movie too, but I always thought it was a little bigoted in its own way. I mean, half the time you're laughing at what a jerk Jack Nicholson is, but that's just so you don't feel so bad when you laugh at him making queer jokes. It's like a way of getting your gay bashing in the back door, if, er, you know what I mean.

Blue the Spa Girl said...

Pauly-wog! Oh wow. One of my fav all time movies. I love all the actors. I loved the ending when they go for fresh baked bread at 4 in the morning.
I wanted to hug Greg Kinnear's character so many times. How much I loved that character!!!!!!!

Paul said...

J. Jock: There are so many great one-liners from this movie, everytime Melvin opened his mouth it was something vile.

Ps: That DVD isn't doing any good just collecting dust, watch it ... several times.

Diesel: Yes, Nicholson played a jerk. But he hated everone ... remember he even called the police "donut munchers" ... so his bashing was just expected. But not condoned.

Blue TSG: Everybody in this movie deserved lots of hugs. (Just as you do, too!)

somewhere joe said...

I left the movie thinking - if that is as good as it gets, I may as well go slit my wrists right now. As one reviewer said, it's just not credible that someone like Helen Hunt's character, all her problems notwithstanding, couldn't do better than Nicholson.

I agree with Diesel - the movie's sentiment reminds me of Isaiah Washington's "apology" for calling T.R. Knight a faggot, as in, ", I didn't mean to call him a FAGGOT" (giggles and smirks).

I know the movie wanted us to find Nicholson's homophobia and general misanthropy somehow endearing. Then, like an abused spouse, we were supposed to be deeply grateful for the few crumbs of humanity that Nicholson was finally able to summon. Didn't do it for me. And I felt embarrassed for his onscreen victims being made to roll over for his way too little too late transformation.

Paul said...

s. joe: "Too little too late" is an interesting observation. You're absolutely corrent about Jack Nicholoson's character. Without the sappy, unrealistic ending (which Blue TSG liked) this would have been a tragedy, not a romantic comedy.

In reality I'd probably never befriend Melvin. He's just too obnoxious, too often. And I hope that I wouldn't put up with it. I don't think of myself as an abused anything.

But, I guess, just call me Pollyanna. I'd like to think that Melvin really does have an inherent sense of humanity.

I also put the title ("as good as it gets") in context of Mr. Udall questioning the patients waiting at the psychologist's office as to "what if this is as good as it gets?" For him and/or them, maybe ... for me, I hope not -- but it's up to me to make a difference. I know that often I've got to be willing to stick my neck out and make the first move.

Blue the Spa Girl said...

Somewhere Joe was right about a lot of his observations. However, movies like this are meant to be "feel good". I totally dig the fact that it had a sappy, unrealistic ending. I love those endings!

I dislike it when women are portrayed as needy relationship-wise though. She could have done better than Jack. No doubt.

Gawpo said...

Crap. And there I was, just dumbly enjoying the movie. Then this incredible splay. I get what Joe says. I get what Blue says. I get to tell Ps to dig in---QUICK! What "we" know is not going to dampen my appreciation of the love message. But yeah, I'll give you that one, Joe. Good take. I got a big thing for Helen Hunt (yeah, I said it and I'm not gonna retract. BAM! Another one, lol) and the MRE sounded just like her. I do miss that voice. Paul Reiser and I share a birthday. I'm mad about that. Vincent Van Gogh, too. Can ya hear me? Warren Beatty, Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Tracy Chapman; crap---the list goes on. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. I like the movie. It makes me cry. ciao, paulo