Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear
Extras: Commentary Track
Melvin doesn’t register that life goes on around him without him. Everything is focused and centered on himself, and everyone he comes into contact with has to live within that pattern. One day, Melvin enters "his" restaurant for lunch when he finds out that "his" waitress is not working that day. He goes off to Carol’s home, begging her to come back to work immediately and fix lunch for him. Needless to say, Melvin is a poor, egocentric character.
Within days, the writer is completely in love with the little dog and takes yet another step towards becoming an eligible part of human society. Still, he has a long way to go, and for someone who holds change as his worst enemy, this way becomes torture.
As you can tell from this brief synopsis, this is a story with an interesting twist. Although the premise seems simple at first, the way the plot plays with Melvin and creates a loveable, compelling, and completely obnoxious character is what makes this film so special. Jack Nicholson can pull all the registers in this film and play off all his facets and skills. One moment he is a dark, ominously threatening, powerful man who is ready to tear his neighbor to pieces, and the next moment he is a helpless and sick man on the verge of breaking. Every emotion a person like Melvin could possibly go through is represented in this film, and Jack Nicholson shines in his portrayal of all these nuances of human nature. The same is true for Helen Hunt, who throws in an incredibly personal and touching performance as a mother whose top priority is her child’s well-being, although in what is probably the only weakness in the otherwise superb and delicate script, the child leaves the overall picture halfway through the film. Every minute you feel her being torn between liking and despising the man who turns her life around with the snap of his fingers. Nicholson and Hunt have a strong chemistry in this movie that is clearly "as good as it gets" and immediately brings classic couples such as Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman to mind. Somehow the whole film has a magical feeling to it. The story feels fresh and is exceedingly well paced, without ever letting go of the viewer’s attention. James Brooks’ stylish direction and the complete production design is so atmospheric and truthful, it practically breathes Manhattan. The acting is so good that it easily elevates the film over any other comedy we have seen in theaters this year, making the film’s substantial running length some of the most enjoyable and entertaining 139 minutes in cinema.
Columbia TriStar Home Video has released "As Good As It Gets" on a double-sided disc, containing both an <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer and a <$PS,pan&scan> version of the film. The <$PS,widescreen> version restores the film’s original theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio and both transfers are excellent in sharpness and the level of detail they exhibit. The film transfer is clean with sharp edges and no noise. Colors are extremely natural with solid, deep blacks and plenty of detail in the shadows and dark areas. No signs of <$chroma,chroma noise> or <$pixelation,pixelation> are found in this beautiful transfer.
Of course, when I started watching "As Good As It Gets", expectations were extremely high. I had seen the Oscar and Golden Globe Awards and knew about the stir the film caused. Never did I expect a film that was so tight and well done, however. Even with my guard up, the film caught me completely by surprise and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Perhaps what impresses me the most about it is that the film is neither dark nor negative. There is no "ultimate bad guy", there is no killing and there is no sinister atmosphere anywhere in this film, although the main issue the film deals with is of a rather serious nature. It makes for a very relaxing experience while at the same time reminding us just how intimately vulnerable, intrinsically "original" and eccentric we all are. If you intend to buy only one disc in the next months, make sure it is this one. "As Good As It Gets" is a masterpiece and a heartfelt comedy without silly slapstick humor.