Insurance-risk calculator Warren R. Schmidt retires from work and prepares for a long, uneventful journey to the grave. When his wife dies, however, he feels compelled to stop his daughter from marrying a loser.
In the year Jack Nicholson turned 65, while the tabloids still persist in focusing on his Lothario ways, this thoughtful, understated black comedy proves there's more to him than a raised eyebrow and rakish laugh.
Fat and frustrated, with a fetching comb-over, his Warren Schmidt is a man who has reached the scrapheap of retirement and is wondering where his life went. To settle his conscience, Schmidt sponsors an African child by post and, in the movie's first great laugh-out-loud moment, spills out all his venom about his dissatisfaction with his lot.
This is not simply a golden-years crisis movie, however, and when his homely but irritating wife Helen dies, director Payne expertly sets Schmidt on his path to fulfilment, which he believes will happen if he sabotages his daughter's marriage to a dull mattress salesman (a hilarious Mulroney). Dealing with Middle America's lost dreams and its tacit class system, Payne has crafted a superb follow-up to 1999's Election.
Taps into Nicholson's wonderfully dry comic talents, proving he really does know how to act his age.