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About Schmidt (2002)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 200
Fresh: 170 | Rotten: 30

In this funny, touching character study, Nicholson gives one of the best performances of his career.


Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 42
Fresh: 38 | Rotten: 4

In this funny, touching character study, Nicholson gives one of the best performances of his career.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 89,621

My Rating

Movie Info

Jack Nicholson plays retiring insurance actuary Warren Schmidt in Alexander Payne's About Schmidt. Schmidt has settled into a dormant life. He has an unfulfilling marriage to Helen (June Squibb), and conspires to spend as much time away from her as possible. Schmidt's daughter Jeannie (Hope Davis) is engaged to Randall Hertzel (Dermot Mulroney), a man Schmidt believes is entirely unworthy of his daughter. When Helen unexpectedly dies, Warren is adrift until he discovers old love letters sent to


Drama, Comedy

Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

Jun 3, 2003


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All Critics (221) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (170) | Rotten (30) | DVD (36)

These filmmakers have a feeling for the isolation of blasted lives, but they also can't resist putting them down.

January 16, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A poignant marker in the career of a major artist.

January 8, 2003
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A thought-provoking and often-funny drama about isolation.

January 3, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A cuttingly funny, moving portrayal of a man searching for meaning in his unremarkable, unmemorable life.

January 3, 2003 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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Each deft stroke of Payne's pen is matched by a Nicholson flourish, transforming the film into a moving, bittersweet ballet.

January 3, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nicholson ... produces the most understated -- and one of the most powerful -- performances of his career.

December 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sharply observed, Alexander Payne's poignant comedy is a character study of an ordinary American, who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and in the process becomes humanized and extraordinary.

January 20, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Alexander Payne's poignant serio comedy is a sharply observed character study, featuring Jack Nicholson in a towering performance as an ordinary American embarking late in life on a journey of self-discovery.

January 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Screendaily

Heartfelt Nicholson, not for kids at all.

September 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

About Schmidt is a touching, human story about a man who comes to the realisation that his life is nothing more than a failure.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

"About Schmidt" is a hostility-provoking film for the same reason that American citizens have lost their civil rights. The picture endorses, nay lionizes, complacency, inaction and the privilege of the greedy to steal whatever they covet simply because th

April 15, 2009 Full Review Source: | Comments (7)

A simple, silent, static shot of Nicholson's face is one of the most beautiful, powerful, indelible images of the 2002 movie year.

February 6, 2009 Full Review Source:

About Schmidt drives another nail in the coffin of irony. It is as lacking in irony as its blatant crayon drawing ending. It's a synthetic antidote to an ironic world, a superficial contrivance that is getting voluminous applause from those who sho

February 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Bright Lights Film Journal | Comment (1)
Bright Lights Film Journal

Mostly, the satire here amounts to nudging us into feeling superior to other people's lives.

July 23, 2007 Full Review Source:

[Y]ou laugh with a growing sense of dread because it makes you feel what it's like to realize it's too late to help yourself.

September 26, 2006 Full Review Source:

About Schmidt is like The Straight Story and Ikiru without beauty, warmth, the delightful discoveries along the way, or the hope.

December 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

Great work by Jack Nicholson in the title role plus Kathy Bates, Hope Davis and Dermot Mulroney at the tempered hand of writer/director Alexander Payne.

November 1, 2004

I don't know if there is another actor alive who could have made About Schmidt as entertaining as it is.

January 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

[W]hen Nicholson decides to bring a character to life, he's so captivating that you forget he's a movie star. Such is the case with About Schmidt.

January 6, 2004 Full Review

At once ridiculous and profoundly touching.

October 15, 2003 Full Review Source:

Bring your patience to the latest Jack Nicholson film... it's very slow, but very rewarding.

October 7, 2003 Full Review Source: EDGE Boston
EDGE Boston

With Nicholson, Payne has made his best film yet, a movie that is funny and touching without ever compromising its vision.

September 6, 2003
Las Vegas Weekly

Comédia melancólica que traz Nicholson em grande atuação como homem amargo por não ter feito diferença no mundo.

July 25, 2003
Cinema em Cena

. . .director/writer Alexander Payne and writing partner Jim Taylor have given us yet another comic masterpiece, and certainly Nicholson will be virtually guaranteed an Oscar nod.

June 10, 2003 Full Review Source:

A crazed retiree finds himself bored with life and over-compensating. Nicholson gives another terrific performance while the film's pace drags everything else down.

June 8, 2003
Cinema Sight

Nicholson is fantastic.

April 17, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

Audience Reviews for About Schmidt

Alexander Payne and Jack Nicholson together? Awesome! But seriously though, this is a great movie.

It's a moving story, if a bit depressing, but it's told so well, and the performances are absolutely brilliant. Much was made about Kathy Bates' nude scene, but it's handled well, kinda fun (in a good way), and not a big deal. I'm not saying I liked seeing her naked, but c'mon, it actually could have been worse. Thankfully it's not cruel or exploitative.

I don't want to watch Payne's films too often, even if they are absolutely fantastic. His mastery of dark humor and uncomfortableness is both good and bad. He does it so well, and makes it all work and watchable, but the problem is, it can be a bit too real, thus difficult to watch very often. That's definitely the case here. It's a little easier to handle Sideways, though.

I like this movie a lot. It's funny, finely observed, and just really honest.
July 11, 2013
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Another genuine, intelligent gem in Alexander Payne's short but ingenious filmography. Jack Nicholson turns in one of the best performances of his career in this profoundly realistic film from the master of the tragicomedy.
December 27, 2011
Tyler Christian

Super Reviewer

Schmidt is such a peculiar fellow, brilliantly played by Nicholson. His simplistic reserve and insulation have made him content in his routine of the past 42 years. This movie follows him as that routine is just absolutely shattered, nearly all at once, and we watch him struggle. Absurd characters, or caricatures really, abound to provide comic relief against the reality of Schmidt's situation -- maybe they are presented as Schmidt's impressions. I feel like this is only half the story. I really want to know what becomes of our "sad, sad, lonely man." But it ends in a touching way, so like Ndugu, I'll hope for the best.
December 7, 2011
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Kathy Bates, June Squibb, Howard Hesseman, Len Cariou, Cheryl Hamada, Christine Belford, Harry Groener, Connie Ray, Mark Venhuizen

Director: Alexander Payne

Summary: When insurance actuary Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) retires and his wife dies, he looks for life's meaning on a road trip to his daughter's (Hope Davis) upcoming wedding to a waterbed salesman (Dermot Mulroney). But Schmidt can't seem to get anything right. En route to the wedding, he shares his life through letters with a Tanzanian boy he's sponsoring for 73 cents a day -- and soon, Schmidt discovers renewed purpose.

My Thoughts: "Love Jack Nicholson but didn't love this movie. It was just OK for me. I guess maybe I was expecting to much from this movie considering it has Jack and Kathy Bates in it. The acting from them both was good as always, and they carried the movie. It was sad, depressing, and dark. It has some comedic moments. I guess it just wasn't my cup of tea as people say. Maybe I will watch it a second time around and change my mind. Not likely though."
September 22, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Warren Schmidt: Remember that, young man, you've got to appreciate what you have... while you still have it.
    – Submitted by Ahmed S (21 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • Monsieur Schmidt (FR)
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