In the same year as the release of “Titanic” (1997), a romantic comedy-drama film emerged that attracted public attention, namely “As Good as It Gets”. This film, made by James L. Brooks, has a flowing story line, as well as unusual characters. Like “Titanic”, this film was also a commercial success with revenues reaching USD 314 million. Empire magazine ranked the film at number 140 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Movies of All Times”.
“As Good as It Gets” tells the story of Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson), a well-known novelist with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The mental disorder that he had made his behavior so annoying. Not to mention his manipulative speech and offended anyone. Even so, Melvin has a good side in him that will be felt by Carol (Helen Hunt) and Simon (Greg Kinnear) and their pet named Verdell.
All of Melvin’s good qualities were not immediately dismantled, but displayed little by little following the flow of the story. At the beginning of the film, the audience will be shown various kinds of Melvin’s temperament that makes him so annoying. When Melvin starts to get into trouble, his good side emerges in a way that matches his true nature. The audience would not have thought that someone as annoying as Melvin could do good things for the people closest to him.
Sarcastic sentences color every scene of the film, especially from Melvin’s mouth. All these sentences are used to emphasize the annoying side of the main character. Comedy elements also appear to make the film more comfortable to enjoy. The comedy does not come through the jokes that come out of the characters, but through the created scenes, especially the scenes between Melvin and Carol and Melvin and Verdell. In addition to making the comedy less cliché, this kind of approach makes the potential for laughter raised by the comedy even bigger.
New York as the backdrop for the main venue is beautifully depicted through a variety of shot approaches. (Spoiler Alert) One example of the beauty of this film’s cinematography is when the camera shoots Carol who is boarding a bus at night from a distance, and in quite dark lighting. (End spoilers) .
Most of the scenes in this film are not affixed with music scoring, so the audience can focus more on listening to the dialogue that is presented in each scene. The music only appears occasionally in a small portion of the scene with the right portion. All of that, of course, thanks to the touch of the stylist, who is none other than Hans Zimmer.
The musical presentation that he included in this film earned him a 1998 Academy Award nomination for the Best Original Score – Musical or Comedy category. The scene-by-scene transitions are neatly interwoven thanks to the editing of the film by Richard Marks as the editor.
The last aspect that makes this film so interesting is the characterization of the characters that are not clichéd, especially Melvin, Carol, and Simon. The three characters were then performed beautifully by the actors. Jack Nicholson is able to bring out all the sides that are in Melvin with his solid acting. He was also able to establish a ‘love-hate relationship’ with Carol, Simon, and Verdell.
Helen Hunt performed well when playing Carol, a restaurant waitress who always served Melvin’s orders and had a child with chronic asthma. All layers of Carol’s emotions can be released by Helen through her acting. Greg Kinnear appears flexible when he plays Simon himself, a gay man and a skilled painter who goes bankrupt after being robbed by a number of people.
Besides being able to bring out every dynamic feeling of the character, Greg is also able to display a convincing painting acting, even though all the paintings in this film are not purely made by Greg. The paintings are the work of Billy Sullivan which were used as props for this film. The acting of the three actors earned them three Academy Award nominations, two of which were won by Jack and Helen.
Don’t forget Verdell, Simon’s pet dog. In this film, he is able to show his adorable behavior, as well as his success in establishing chemistry with Simon and Melvin.
“As Good as It Gets” managed to become a romantic comedy drama film that is very worth watching thanks to a number of advantages in it. No wonder this film is still being watched today.