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Here’s Oscar!

Staff Reports

The leading men of today may be hot enough to warrant a rose from “The Bachelorette”, but most of these hunks can’t act their way out of a high school production of My Fair Lady.Bald boy Vin Diesel is just an Arnold Schwarzenegger clone, minus the Kennedy wench and a Nazi accent. Overly handsome Ben Affleck belongs on a gay website. Leo DiCaprio has the physique of a 13-year-old girl.And yet the ladies get wet and sticky over these pinheaded pinups.I, however, expect more from a leading man. A true Hollywood star must have more than a winning smile and a tight tush. He must command the screen at all times, have the swagger of a multi-Academy Award winner, and know how to terrorize people with a golf club.Only one actor meets those requirements. That man is Jack Nicholson.Already saddled with enough Oscar gold to crush Miss DiCaprio’s girlish chest, Nicholson is certain to rake in another top prize for his outstanding portrayal of a sad and lonely, beaten down insurance drone in “About Schmidt”.Nicholson is guaranteed a fourth Academy Award unless someone digs up Sir Larry Olivier’s bones and lets the skeleton perform Hamlet’s soliloquy.Nicholson’s performance as a 66-year-old retired insurance man from Nebraska, dominates About Schmidt, a tremendous film that captures the absurdity of American life better than any movie made in the last decade.Nicholson’s Mr. Schmidt is the living embodiment of quiet desperation. He’s a man who rigidly followed all of life’s rules, then ends up with only a snotty daughter and a dumb-ass son-in-law for company.The beauty of About Schmidt is that Nicholson needs only an angry smirk, a bent eyebrow and a clenched jaw to fill the screen with more human feeling than Vin Diesel could achieve with full-scale body art, exploding warheads, and cavorting lesbians.With his belly ballooned from years of fine grog, better chow and all the wild sex a man of means is welcome to in this world, Nicholson has grown into the perfect look for this role.We first meet Schmidt at his retirement party where fellow insurance cadavers laud him with praise for 35 years of dedicated service to the actuarial charts. Retirement is supposed to mean years of wandering inside a 35-foot trailer with his bossy wife. But when the old woman suddenly dies, Schmidt must reassess his empty life.Purpose comes through an international child fund and the $22 a month he sends to feed a Tanzanian child named Ndugu. Schmidt’s inner feelings about his wife, his daughter and the loser future son-in-law emerge in the hilarious letters to the illiterate Ndugu.But Schmidt’s true mission centers on his daughter and a vow to bust up her pending marriage to a mullet-wearing waterbed salesman from Denver.Nicholson’s genius turns About Schmidt into a sentimental, soothing, and hilarious romp through Middle America and the freaks who inhabit this land.One of the more entertaining scenes finds Schmidt helplessly adrift atop a waterbed. Nicholson uses brilliant physical comedy to make like a dying whale stuck on a sandbar. And this is just one of half a dozen gut-busting moments in a film that captures the laughable emptiness of our great nation.Until next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the theater to support an international fund for the comfort women of Bangkok. qNickey Hernandez is a former private investigator who believes life insurance policies are for suckers.


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