Shortly after he retires from a lifetime of service as an insurance company actuary, Warren Schmidt’s (Jack Nicholson) wife dies suddenly, leaving him feeling desperately alone. Trying to put his life back together, he embarks on a road trip to Denver, where his only daughter (Hope Davis) is preparing to marry an underachieving waterbed salesman named Randall (Dermot Mulroney). Warren disapproves of his daughter’s groom-to-be and decides he must save his daughter from making the biggest mistake of her life. Throughout his journey, Warren shares his experiences in the letters he writes to Ndugu Umbo – a six-year old Tanzanian orphan whom he sponsors – and Warren begins to catch a glimpse of who he really is.

4.5
A wonderful film and not to be missed.

Oscar contender Jack Nicholson plays Warren Schmidt who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with his wife of 42 years, Helen (June Squibb). Now 66, he is forced into retirement from his job as actuary in an insurance company to make way for a younger man. Schmidt is an ordinary guy who is forced to assess an essentially boring and disappointing life – but he's determined to make amends with whatever time he has left.

When Jack Nicholson won a very well-deserved Best Actor in a Drama Award at the Golden Globes, he said he thought he'd made a comedy – an interesting comment, because About Scmidt is, indeed, a sad and dramatic comedy, or, perhaps, a moving drama with strong comic elements. Most of all, it's painfully real. The early scenes, with Nicholson playing his age and June Squibb as the wife he takes completely for granted, come as a bit of a shock; and director Alexander Payne – who was raised in Omaha - acutely observes the dreadful retirement dinner and the little day to day horrors that confront Schmidt.

It's a wonderful film, with Nicholson giving maybe the finest performance of a very distinguished career; and he gets great support not only from June Squibb but also from Hope Davis as the daughter with whom he doesn't see eye to eye, Dermot Mulroney as the mediocre and smarmy water-bed salesman she plans to marry; and – hilariously – Kathy Bates as Mulroney's ex-hippie mother. This is a movie not to be missed.