As Good as it Gets is the story of an obsessive writer, a single-mom waitress, a gay artist and an art-dealer friend. The movie uses these characters to bring a positive message about how the good in people if left to come out, not only changes their lives but also has the power to positively change the lives of those around them.
Jack Nicholson plays the character, Melvin Udall. The movie introduces his character as a cranky old man with a sharp tongue who is unafraid to say what he thinks about anybody. It is quickly obvious that he does not care whom he offends and that he is incapable of saying anything nice about anybody. He throws the neighbor’s dog down the trash shoot, calls his gay neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear) a fag and Simon’s associate Frank Sachs (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) a “colored man with flaring nostrils.” He is obsessive-compulsive and has to have everything the same way every day. The only person who can intimidate him is Frank. Though he has brash language and appears to be without feeling, viewers soon pity him for he is a lonely man. This becomes evident when Frank insists that Melvin take care of Simon’s dog. He quickly becomes attached and the dog changes his life. At this point, viewers see another side of Melvin. He is a man who is misunderstood and who is a victim of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Underneath his gruff exterior viewers see a man who is good. He wants to change and he wants to help others with no thanks. However, change does not come easy. As he struggles to become a better man, his old self often comes out and provides the movie with its conflicts. Finally, viewers see a man who is lonely but is as capable as any human to fall in love and experience the pain and joy that love brings.
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