As Good As It Gets (Twilight Time Blu-ray)

Directors - James L. Brooks

Cast - Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 1

MSRP - $29.95

Distributor - Twilight Time

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

The Film (3/5)

   As Good As It Gets is a film much like it's 1997 pop drama brethren Good Will Hunting, and Titanic is a film I actively avoided seeing back in my Freshman year of high school. Although it does feature older characters it was a smash hit even amongst the teenagers in my grade, and above, and as I was a guy that was only interested in monsters and the mob when it came to movies it was a film that close-minded teenage me, knew he wouldn't like.

   And then I got a girlfriend, and she liked movies like Titanic, Good Will Hunting, and As Good as It Gets. It came to be her birthday, and I got her a copy of As Good as It Gets, and the day before I was supposed to give it to her.  She broke up with me, well I had thrown out the receipt, and couldn't return it. So I had a movie that I probably would hate sitting on my shelf badly wrapped (seriously, I wrap presents terribly), so what was I to do. 

     I decided to watch it. I didn't love it, but I certainly didn't hate it.

     I attribute much of this to Jack Nicholson in the lead role of Melvin Udall.  Nicholson, who got his start in the films of Roger Corman has always had one of the most magnetic of on screen presences in the 50 plus years he has graced our screens.  While As Good As It Gets it not up his finer moments, he definitely is the anchor that grounds the movie, and makes the whole thing as watchable as it is.

   The film starts Nicholson as a misanthropic Obsessive Compulsive Germaphobic-Homophobe writer of cheesy romance novels Melvin Udall. As the film starts his gay artist neighbor Simon is beaten and very nearly killed. While Simon is recovering, Melvin is forced to care for Simon's dog, even though he despises the creature.

     Just as this is occurring Melvin's world is being turned upside down by the fact that the one person in the world who can stomach him a waitress at his favorite breakfast establishment Carol (Trancers' Helen Hunt), is forced to quit her job to stay close to her ailing Son who suffers from an acute asthmatic condition.

   Because Melvin is obsessive about who serves him breakfast, and he is stinking rich, he offers to pay for the boys medical care if Carol comes back to work.  He also finds himself becoming attached to the dog, and is unable to give him up upon Simon's return from the hospital.  Due to the attack, and the strain it put on him Simon finds himself in a difficult financial and creative situation and is now unable to work.  He finds that he cannot afford his apartment, and has to stay with Melvin until he can find other digs. It is suggested by his agent Frank (Cuba Gooding Jr.), that he go to his parents down in Baltimore for assistance.  Unfortunately, they have not spoken in quite some time. To offer support Melvin offers his car, and his companionship. He then offers to take Carol on the road as well.  The rest of the film follows the trio, as they go through the motions of trying to get on their feet, or attempt to find what they've actually "been looking for this entire time."

   Honestly, a film like this is both very easy and hard to review.  It's a very typical romantic comedy. The writing is decent, but what really makes the film watchable are the performances.  As I pointed out earlier Nicholson really grounds the film, and the supporting cast ranging from Greg Kinnear, Helen Hunt, and even Skeet Ulrich, help to take the material they're given, and make it into something beyond what's on the page.

   As Good as it Gets is a film that is written for a broad audience spectrum, and it should appeal to a wide variety of non-discerning viewers. I am quite surprised a film as popular as this one was 15 years back should get a limited edition of only 3000 copies, but as it appears to be one of the better romantic comedies of the 90's, it should have no trouble being Twilight Time's second sell out release (behind Fright Night).

 

Audio/Video (4/5)

   Twilight Time has presented James L. Brooks As Good As It Gets in a excellently restored 1:85:1 mpeg-4 AVC Encoded Transfer.  The last time I saw this was on a used VHS tape, bought at a Video Library in South Florida, and the film looked washed out, and pretty terrible at the time.  Watching this Blu-ray As Good as it Gets has had nothing short of a complete restoration. This is an absolute fantastic transfer, the colors look fantastic, and bright. The level of detail is vastly improved, flesh tones are accurate, and black levels are solid.  There isn't much grain to speak of as this is a newer film, but there are light traces throughout the film that remind the viewer that this is indeed a film that is being watched, and that is always appreciated.

   The Audio is presented in a similarly solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 Sound Mix in English with Optional English Subtitles (Seriously, I love any company that includes subtitles on releases).  The mix is solid, as the dialogue can be heard completely well throughout the track. The music, and what effects that are there are mixed well. I have no complaints at all in the audio department.

Extras (2.5/5)

   Twilight Time releases are not known for their extensive extra features, and As Good As It Gets is no exception. They have included their trademark isolated score, and the films theatrical trailer. There is also another excellent selection of liner notes from Julie Kirgo.

 

Overall

   As Good As It Gets features a series of excellent performances, in the framework of a typical romantic comedy.  Twilight Time has done an amazing job on the restoration front, and it honestly has never looked better on home video than it does here. There is not much in the way of extras, but if you are a movie score fan, they have the score as an isolated track. Twilight Time's Blu-ray of As Good As It Gets comes Recommended for fans of 90's romantic comedies.