is a 2002 American film
as Warren Schmidt and
as his daughter Jeannie. It is
loosely based on the 1996 novel of the same title by Louis Begley
. Many of the scenes were filmed on
location, especially in Omaha, Nebraska and Denver, Colorado.
According to the special features on the
DVD, a number of non-professional local residents appeared in the
film, portraying their real-life professions. The actual Woodmen of the World
building in Omaha was utilized in the film.
The main narrative of the film follows Schmidt as he goes on a road
trip in order to attend the wedding of his only daughter to a man
and into a family he does not particularly like.
Schmidt is retiring from his position as an actuary with an insurance
company in Omaha,
Schmidt finds it hard to adjust to his new life and feels useless.
One evening, he sees a television
about a foster program for
children. He soon receives an
information package with a photo of his foster child, a small
boy named Ndugu Umbo, to whom he
relates his life in a series of rambling letters.
Schmidt is given an impersonal retirement dinner. He visits his
young successor's office to offer his help, but he is not needed.
As he leaves the building, Schmidt sees the contents and files of
his office in the basement, set out for garbage collectors.
He describes to Ndugu his longtime alienation from his wife, who
suddenly dies from a blood clot
just after his retirement and their
purchase of a Winnebago
arrive, along with his only daughter Jeannie and her fiance Randall
Hertzel from Denver.
console him at the funeral, but he argues with Jeannie over money
and the casket.
Schmidt feels that Randall, a water-bed salesman, is unsuited to
his daughter. Randall recommends the book "When Bad Things Happen to
" by Harold Kushner
Schmidt and then tries to entice him into a pyramid scheme
. After the couple leaves,
Schmidt is alone.
He stops showering, is shown sleeping in front of the television,
and going outside with a coat over pajamas to load up on frozen
foods in the supermarket
. In a closet he
discovers some hidden love letters disclosing his wife's long-ago
affair with a mutual friend. Schmidt angrily confronts him.
In order to find some control in his life, he decides to take a
journey alone in his new Winnebago
to see his daughter and
convince her not to marry. When he phones her, en route, to tell
her he is coming a few weeks earlier than planned, Jeannie insists
that he not arrive until shortly before the wedding.
Schmidt visits places from his past. His childhood home has been
replaced by a tire
shop. While at a trailer
campground, he is a dinner guest of a friendly and sympathetic
couple, but is thrown out after he makes a pass at the wife.
Schmidt arrives in Denver and stays at the home of Randall's
mother. He wakes after a night in a water bed with severe pain. He
meets the fiancé's family and again tries to dissuade Jeannie from
the marriage. Schmidt flees after the mother makes a pass at him in
a hot tub. Schmidt attends the wedding and delivers a kind speech
at the dinner, hiding his disapproval.
Upon returning home to Omaha, his narrative to the orphan Ndugu
questions what he has accomplished in life. Schmidt laments that he
will soon be dead and that no one will remember him.
A pile of mail is waiting for him inside the empty house. Schmidt
opens a surprise letter from Tanzania. It is from a nun, who writes
that Ndugu is illiterate but enjoys Schmidt's letters and financial
aid very much. With the money, Ndugu was able to receive medical
care to treat an eye infection. The little boy's hand-drawn picture
is enclosed, showing two smiling stick figures, one large and one
small, holding hands in the blazing sun. Schmidt weeps, realizing
that someone has benefited from his life after all.
is rated R ("Restricted; Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or
Adult Guardian") in the United States for some profanity and
some brief nudity in a scene where Randall's sexually candid mother
Roberta (played by Kathy Bates) tries to
seduce Schmidt in a hot tub.
Jack Nicholson was nominated for the Oscar
for Best Actor in a Leading Role
2003 and Kathy Bates was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting
The film won a Golden Globe Award
for Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, as well as the Best
Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama. (Nicholson
stated: "I'm a little surprised. I thought we made a
It was also nominated for the Palme d'Or
at the 2002 Cannes Film
- Opening weekend U.S. gross: $8,533,162
- Total U.S. box office gross: $65,010,106