As good as it gets

I adore movies. Films are one of my regular delights. Next to books, movies are definitely my most pleasurable pastime. I can visualize someone or a group of someone’s writing the witty one-liners, the incomparable comebacks, and the vicious attack that can only be said by someone who is truly disturbing. My favorite type of film is a suspenseful thriller. The more intricate the story, the better. I drool over clever stories.

Unfortunately, suspenseful thrillers that are well done are not plentiful and so I find myself drawn to different genres here and there. A comedy I saw with Jack Nicholson has his character deliver a line that I have found lodged in my mind, I’m fairly certain, for all time. It is by far my favorite line because of content and context.

As Good As It Gets is a story of a writer, Melvin Udall, who is unable to tolerate the irregularities of people. He despises their dirtiness, their inability to contain their emotions, and this has resulted in him living his life in a very particular manner. The hilarious thing is that Melvin writes, wait for it, romance novels. Books that explore the love and connection of human beings to their depths. In his books he creates perfect worlds where he is in control of those things that are always uncontrollable in real life.

The dichotomy is impossible to miss. It’s also pretty hilarious. Melvin undergoes many adjustments throughout the film and at one moment he is standing in a full waiting room for a Psychotherapist. He is frustrated and afraid and the audience knows he is going to say something just terrible, because that is what Melvin does when he is frustrated and afraid. He doesn’t disappoint. He’s standing there and everyone is looking at him as a result of the previous fuss he has made and he states, “What if this is as good as it gets?”

It’s a rhetorical question. He’s not at all interested in what anyone might have to say about it. But, it is completely awesome to me. On the content side, it’s so very simple. He means it to be cruel. Yet, I see it as empowering. IF this is as good as it gets, then I can accept and adjust. IF this is as good as it gets, then I know my limitations. IF this is as good as it gets, then I know my fears already and have nothing to fear from anything unknown. It’s very soulful, to me.

On the context side of it, the part where he is saying this to a room full of mentally and emotionally disturbed people, is equally intended to be foul. However, I look at it as a hilarious and unexpected gift he delivers without intention. (Or maybe it was intended, he is an intricate character.) If all those people take what he said to them and apply it to their life then they will, most likely, alleviate a lot of their suffering.

My sister recently sent me an internet meme that said, “I’ve got 99 problems and 86 of them are completely made up scenarios in my mind.” Funny, and true. I worry about all kinds of things. So, if I take Melvin’s words and use them with some perspective, it helps the worry. “What if this is as good as it gets?” Yep, still hilarious.

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