Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. What makes this exquisitely observed slice of American screen realism transcend itself is finally its moral sensibility.
  2. 100
    It is also Nicholson at his bravest and riskiest. By banking his fires and staying alert to the smallest details, he delivers a monumental performance that blasts your expectations and batters your heart.
  3. This is a superb film and one of Nicholson's great performances, tamped down but magnetic.
  4. 100
    Ever the satirist, Payne mines humor from his characters, be it Randall's cockeyed pyramid-scheme ideas or the banality of a ridiculous wedding toast.
  5. Payne achieves an impressive control over the look and tone, so that, melancholy as the movie is, it comes off as both comedy and comment on the human condition.
  6. A quiet, heart-rending masterpiece, one with an actor's turn that people will remember, and rediscover, eons into the future.
  7. A seriously good movie, a challenge to viewers, a rebuke of the way many Americans live their lives.
  8. A dark comedy that's as emotionally honest as any picture of 2002.
  9. 88
    About Schmidt is billed as a comedy. It is funny to the degree that Nicholson is funny playing Schmidt, and funny in terms of some of his adventures, but at bottom it is tragic.
  10. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Nicholson has at least three magnificent moments in Hour 2. The best is a wedding toast that comes after another that will painfully remind you of every banal wedding toast you've ever heard.
  11. The movie isn't just about Schmidt as a personality, it's a portrait of his world, and Payne and co-writer Taylor show a rare compassion for the superficially comfortable.
  12. Reviewed by: Darrin Keene
    This is where Payne shines. Schmidt’s Winnebago journey through America’s heartland is more like a personal voyage into his Heart of Darkness.
  13. As sad and poignant and potentially hopeful as it is amusing. The movie is our story as much as it is Schmidt's, no matter if it's viewed as a self-reflection or cautionary tale
  14. The power of this great movie -- part comedy, part tragedy, part satire, mostly masterpiece -- is in the details.
  15. 91
    We laugh, yes, but we're touched, too, a delicate balance that the film manages again and again, right through to its bittersweet conclusion.
  16. There's still nothing quite as thrilling on the screen as the spectacle of an icon movie star in a perfectly tailored role.
  17. 100
    The bleakness and poignancy are inescapable in About Schmidt, a character study that has the emotional richness of the great Italian and Eastern European films of the 1960s, in which humor and pathos rode up and down on the seesaw together.
  18. 100
    What makes About Schmidt so extraordinary is how ordinary its tale is; it's a gray picture about gray people looking for some kind of meaning in their gray lives.
  19. A comedy poised on the knife's edge of tragedy, the film is a gutsy, truthful, deeply rooted vision of contemporary American life, scaled to the size of an ordinary man. It's a humanist triumph strip-mined of bathos and confirmation that, after directing just three features, Payne has become the most gifted comic social satirist to hit our movies since Preston Sturges.
  20. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    This powerfully contained, painfully funny performance has to rank with the greatest work Nicholson's ever done -- This road movie gives you emotional whiplash, and you’ll be glad you went along for the ride.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    Sublime and sorrowful movie.
  22. 100
    Payne is a comic miniaturist, who works in a small compass, as if through a magnifying glass with tweezers.
  23. 100
    What gives About Schmidt its ultimate boost, what pushes it into the stirring heavens is Nicholson, who produces the most understated -– and one of the most powerful –- performances of his career.
  24. 90
    Payne, the great satirist behind "Citizen Ruth" and "Election," loves to populate his films with throwaway details, which in About Schmidt accumulate into a portrait of Midwestern life that's almost chilling in its exactitude.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 162 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 49 out of 86
  2. Negative: 32 out of 86
  1. Jun 25, 2012
    10/10 . Full Review »
  2. Jun 25, 2012
    Really good . Full Review »
  3. Aug 12, 2014
    Of retirement, of loss, of soul-searching. Of life. Alexander Payne creates the most natural films films can produce. This, is what should have been Jack Nicholson's most deserving Oscar. He pulls himself away from his cocky, intimidating and sometimes arrogant charm that he has added to so many of his movies, and has given us a truly human role: a man with limits, faults, and weakness'. Kathy Bates makes you want to piss your pants, so to speak. The film is great. Jack Nicholson: so amazing it's surreal. Full Review »