‘As good as it gets’ stars Jack Nicholson as the obsessive-compulsive Melvin. He isn’t just paranoid about germs and cracks in the roads; he is an aggressively unpleasant and bigoted man who is rude to - and about - everyone he comes across. However, and rather bizarrely, he is also a highly successful romantic novelist.
One of his neighbours (Greg Kinnear) is an artist with a dog whom Melvin particularly dislikes. However after a very unpleasant incident, Melvin finds himself looking after the dog… and slowly a slightly more human side emerges. I found Melvin decidedly annoying at first: not for his OCD but for his extreme rudeness, and never really warmed to him.
The storyline is all rather unlikely, involving a waitress (Helen Hunt) in a restaurant who tolerates Melvin’s strange quirks. Minor characters include a sick child, a flamboyant agent, a somewhat clingy (though helpful) mother, and a friendly doctor. They are all somewhat caricatured, which made it easy to remember who was whom.
The film was made in 1997 so it’s inevitably somewhat dated - the old-fashioned telephones are a giveaway clue. Moreover, some of the racist, homophobic and other similarly bigoted lines, while presumably meant to be funny, are a bit shocking; as are the cheers when someone is thrown out of a restaurant.
Still, there’s a little slapstick humour and some nicely done asides that work well. Overall it’s quite a light-hearted film despite the one scene of violence and some quite serious issues. It’s very well made, and while I found it hard to see any chemistry between the two main characters, it was overall an enjoyable film. Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear are both excellent, but I never entirely believed in Jack Nicholson, even though he delivers some of the best lines (and won an Oscar for his role).
The rating is 15 which I would say is right: while there are no extreme scenes of intimacy or overt nudity, there’s a great deal that’s implied, and a lot of suggestive (and indeed overt) dialogue. There is one violent scene and also a few instances of ‘strong’ language. In the United States the rating is PG-13, which surprised me, as their censors are usually stricter than those in the UK.
Review by Sue F copyright 2017 Sue's DVD Reviews