A high school teacher's personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections, particularly with an obsessive overachiever determined to become student body president.
Warren Schmidt has led a safe, predictable life working in the insurance industry in Omaha, Nebr. for many years, yet now faces retirement. At the same time he is forced to take a hard look at his wife, his life and his relationship with his estranged daughter. An often hilarious series of events follow as Schmidt embarks on an unpredictable RV journey to attend his daughter's wedding in Denver. Written by
Alexander Payne said the screenplay was a hybrid of the novel and his own original screenplay, "The Coward", which he wrote while a student at UCLA. The title, main character, and overall plot and theme were kept from About Schmidt, while The Coward was a story about a closed-minded man having a spiritual awakening as he closes in on the end of his life. See more »
When Warren Schmidt leaves Roberta Hertzel's house to go and sleep in his RV, the RV is noticeably tilted to the right due to its being parked on the side of the street. When he is inside, it is perfectly level. See more »
[Warren is on top of the motor home under a starry night]
Helen, what did you really think of me, deep in your heart? Was I really the man you wanted to be with? Was I? Or were you disappointed and too nice to show it? I forgive you for Ray. I forgive you. That was a long time ago, and I know I wasn't always the king of kings. I let you down. I'm sorry, Helen. Can you forgive me? Can you forgive me?
[a shooting star passes by]
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I love Nicolson and I thought his work in this film was as good as any I have seen him do in any of his previous films. My accolades must begin with the writers for creating such a beautiful novel and script-a perfect canvas for the many fine actors in this film upon which they wove their considerable magic. There were no killings, no car chases, no violence of any kind-I'm surprised that Hollywood distributed it.
Such a slice of life-American life with it's many warts-warts that the Americans probably don't even recognize: Winnebagos like moving palaces, freeway monuments to genocide, business that consumes it's workers only to dump them unceremoniously, too much of everything that amounts to emptiness, etc., etc. The novel by Begley, upon which the film was based, illustrated this consumer emptiness brilliantly by the inclusion of the bookends to the film, the sponsorship of the Tanzanian child by Schmidt. The child's material emptiness was contrasted with Schmidt's emotional emptiness in a way America does not recognize much less watch on the screen.
The last part of the movie dealing with the marriage of Schmidt's daughter to a man who came from a diametrically opposite "new age" family was an unstated acknowledgment by his daughter that she wanted nothing of her father's values-she wanted a complete break and she was going to marry the break.
A fascinating, complex movie and I'm sorry I didn't see it much earlier.
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