“As Good As It Gets” is really good, but certainly not as good as it gets. The story is unique and interesting, complete with Oscar-winning performances by Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, but I found a lot of the comedy to lie in an awkward area between serious social issues and ironic dark humor. I don’t know if it is the fault of the writers or the difficulty of writing a racist, homophobic, OCD character, but the tone of the film seems inappropriate at times. Still, there cannot be enough praise given to the acting. Nicholson and Hunt are magical together, to the point where the creepiness of their extreme age difference is barely an afterthought as the story progresses. Hunt has a great crying scene, Nicholson flips out on a bunch of people, and that’s what we really want out of this film. Their chemistry is everything that you would expect from these great actors, but Greg Kinnear is a great surprise. His emotional and unfortunate existence earned him an Oscar nomination (which will also probably be his last, due to his sour grapes toward not winning). The film contains one of my favorite lines of all time: “You make me want to be a better man.” It might not seem like much out of context, but its simplicity is perfectly matched with Nicholson’s delivery in the film. It isn’t my favorite film and definitely did not deserve to beat “Titanic” in the 1998 Academy Awards, but “As Good As It Gets” is one of those films that has become a staple in the repertoire and everybody needs to see it at least once.
[Pictured: Three Oscar nominees, a perfect motley crew]