After a long career of dutiful service to an Omaha insurance company, Warren Schmidt (Nicholson) retires and finds himself trapped in a meaningless existence with nothing much to look forward to. When his wife Helen (Squibb) dies suddenly, Schmidt decides his own days may be few, so he packs up a whale-size Winnebago and sets out for Denver, where he hopes to convince daughter Jeannie (Davis) not to marry dim-witted salesman Randall (Mulroney).
Why we love it
Payne's indelible dramedy examines regret, loss, and melancholic self-awareness. Nicholson gives a brave, brilliant performance as Schmidt, a decidedly unglamorous, ordinary man disappointed in his life, his marriage, and his daughter, achieving a late-career high. Mulroney, Davis, and the formidable Kathy Bates — playing Randall's randy mother — all provide exceptional support, but this movie really belongs to Jack, who brings ingenuous warmth and heartbreaking honesty to his role. Based on Louis Begley's novel, "Schmidt" strikes just the right balance between despair and hopefulness, poignant tragedy and hilarious hijinks.