"As Good As It Gets" was based on a story originally written by Mark Andrus. He later converted it into a screenplay and it was picked up by director James Brooks, who converted it into a film. With a budget of $50 million, the box office grossed nearly four times that and the film was also nominated for numerous Academy Awards.
The film begins by showing an author named Melvin Udall grabbing his neighbor's cute little dog and putting it down the garbage chute. Melvin suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and is terrified of touching other people or ingesting germs. As a result, he only drinks bottled water, always wears gloves, and even takes sealed plastic eating utensils to restaurants.
After some time, Melvin's gay neighbor, Simon Bishop, is attacked by some men who rob his apartment and has to go to the hospital. His art agent, Frank Sachs, convinces Melvin to take care of Bishop's dog for a few weeks and Melvin comes to enjoy its company. This loosens Melvin up enough to convince him to help a waitress named Carol Connelly whose son has become ill by hiring a private doctor for her.
When Simon Bishop gets out of the hospital and finds out that he is broke, he decides to take a trip to his estranged parents' house to beg them for money. Melvin agrees to drive him with Carol coming along for the ride and he strives to woo her by taking her out to dinner at an expensive restaurant. Unfortunately, his mouth gets in the way and ends up ruining things between them.
They decide to return to New York City after Carol inspires Simon to start drawing again. Melvin invites Simon to live with him until things get better and he ends up convincing Carol to forgive him and they start a relationship. By this time, Melvin is a completely changed man and it is remarkable how he has transitioned from a paranoid recluse to an open ladies man.
The film stars Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall in one of his most interesting roles. Carol Connelly is played by Helen Hunt and Simon Bishop is played by Greg Kinnear. Other important characters include Frank Sachs, who is played by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Vincent Lopiano, who is played by Skeet Ulrich.
This film is mainly a romantic comedy, although there are definitely some serious parts. The beating of Simon Bishop in particular is quite disturbing and violent. The relationship between Melvin and Carol is certainly quite bizarre, but touching just the same.
The music in this film is pretty good, featuring everything from jazz to classical. Most of the songs are about love, mirroring the theme of the movie, including "Hand on my Heart" by Judith Owen and "I Love You" by Nat King Cole. Other interesting songs include "YMCA" by the Village People and "Spanish Castle Magic" by Jimi Hendrix.
The real star in this film is Jack Nicholson, whose presence makes the film what it is. His portrayal of an compulsive man is quite believable and it is somewhat amusing watching him walk down the street, practically running to avoid touching other people in the process. I found Helen Hunt to be a bit annoying and overly demanding in her role, but Greg Kinnear seemed to do a good job as the gay and overly-sensitive artist.
Overall, I felt the movie wasn't as great as some people hyped it up to be. Sure, Jack Nicholson gives a great performance, but that doesn't compensate for the other mediocre performances. In my opinion, Helen Hunt's performance was definitely not Oscar worthy. However, the film is still enjoyable and will provide some great entertainment.