Sunday, June 26, 2011

Life and the Movies

Would Melvin Udall and Carole the Waitress survive in real life? For those of you who have seen the famous compliment scene in 'As Good As It Gets', starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear, you likely enjoy that moment when Jack, soul as beared as it could be for his character, gives Helen's upset Carol the compliment of a lifetime after a real gaffe...

Melvin Udall: I don’t get this place. They make me buy a new outfit, and they let you in in a house dress. I don’t get it. [Carol gets up, upset] What? What, no wait, why? Where you going? Why? I mean, I…uh. I didn’t mean it that way, I mean…you gotta sit down. You can
still give me the dirty look, just sit down and give it to me.

Carol Connelly: Pay me a compliment, Melvin. I need one. Quick. You have no idea how much what you just said hurt my feelings.

Melvin Udall: The monominute somebody gets that you need them they threaten to go away. Never fails.

Carol Connelly: That's not compliment, Melvin...That's just trying to sound smart so I feel stupid... A compliment is something nice about somebody else...Now or never.

Melvin Udall: Okay.

Carol Connelly: [reluctantly sits] And mean it...

Melvin Udall: Can we order first? [shouting at a waiter at another table] Two crab dinners and pitcher of cold beer. [to Carol] Uh, baked or fries?

Carol Connelly: [embarrassed, whispers] Fries. [again, louder] Fries.

Melvin Udall: [calling to the waiter] One baked -- one fried.

Startled Waiter: [shouting back] I'll tell your waiter.

Melvin Udall: Okay, now...I got a really great compliment for you, and it's true.

Carol Connelly: I'm so afraid you're about to say something awful.

Melvin Udall: Don't be pessimistic, it's not your style. Okay, here I go: clearly, a mistake. I got this, what - ailment? My doctor, a shrink that I used to go to all the time, he says that in fifty or sixty percent of the cases, a pill really helps. I *hate* pills; very dangerous thing, pills. Hate. I'm using the word "hate" here, about pills. Hate. My compliment is, that night when you came over and told me that you would never...uh, alright, you were there, you know what you said. Well, my compliment to you is, the next morning, I started taking the pills.

Carol Connelly: I don't quite get how that's a compliment for me.

Melvin Udall: You make me want to be a better man.

Carol Connelly: [stunned]...That's maybe the best compliment of my life.

Melvin Udall: Well, maybe I overshot a little, because I was aiming at just enough to keep you from walking out.
And of course, after this, the moment goes downhill, first to awkward, then to disaster as Melvin says something that upsets Carol so much, she storms out. Some strange events happen, including a homeless gay artist, some nude sketches, an odd couple situation, and a surreal make-up scene that leads to them wandering the streets of New York at 4:30 am, deciding to give it a try, despite the challenges his personality (and to a lesser extent, his personality disorder) present.

After the couple walk into a bakery that is just opening for the day, I'm left to wonder...what they survive in real life? Do they keep going, accepting the implications of his personality and his disorder as being as good as it gets? Or does another serious gaffe on his part (or her part...could happen) somewhere down the road push that relationship over the edge? I'm curious.

I'm also curious about one other thing...assuming this relationship can go the do you ever beat a compliment like that if you have to?


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