🎥🍣Movie Sushi — As Good As It Gets

AdGridley
6 min readSep 1, 2021

Simon’s Griffon Bruxellois, Verdell, is dropped by neighbour, Melvin, into the rubbish chute. Melvin returns to his apartment, performing OCD rituals with the door lock and light switches and discards disposable gloves. He uses a new soap once each time he washes.

Later, Verdell is found in the basement garbage bin eating baby faeces. Melvin Udall’s a best-selling romantic fiction author, jars of separated M&Ms and bottles of water by his work station. Then, Simon’s knocking becomes intrusive.

Melvin mutters homophobic words. Simon asks if Melvin attacked Verdell. Melvin emphasises how important it is for him to be left alone because he works from home — all the time. Simon concedes he understands.

Melvin returns to his keyboard. Next, it’s Simon’s art dealer friend, Frank, at the door. Melvin is assaulted. He yells for the “doughnut-munching moron police” and screams racial slurs. Frank will have a think about how Melvin can pay back Simon. If he disrespects Simon or Verdell again, Frank promises Melvin a severe beating. He finishes by wishing Melvin a nice day.

Melvin avoids cracks on the steps and sidewalk, telling other Manhattanites not to touch him. He gets to his restaurant and insults a Jewish couple at his usual table. Soon, they leave — offended. Melvin’s established at his table, preparing his plastic cutlery. He orders three eggs over easy, two sausages, six strips of bacon and fries, a short stack, coffee with cream and sweetener. Soon, Melvin learns about Carol’s acutely asthmatic son. He’s in the Emergency Room five, six times a month — often seen by a very young doctor.

Artist Simon gets beaten almost to death by burglars. Frank makes Melvin take in Verdell. After a rocky start, Melvin performs an upbeat song on the piano and Verdell agrees to eat.

When she sees Simon wounded in his hospital bed, friend Jackie starts sobbing. A startled Frank falls backwards into a chair. Simon removes the ice pack to reveal bruising and stitching — and a bloodshot eye. Jackie reluctantly hands Simon a mirror.

Simon’s wheelchair-bound, yet Melvin insults his face. Melvin thinks Verdell doesn’t come to him because Simon’s so ugly. Even later, Verdell doesn’t come.

Melvin goes to his 5th Avenue psychiatrist without an appointment -to no avail. Melvin leaves through a full waiting room telling them: “What if this is as good as it gets”?

Melvin calls Carol’s replacement waitress “elephant girl,” raises his voice and slams the table. It’s a Code Blue and Melvin is ordered out. Policemen watch intently. Melvin leaves and the restaurant applauds.

Carol explains to Melvin she’s not working because her son, Spencer, is sick. Melvin lectures Spencer and Carol slams the door on him. Then, there’s a 104.9°F emergency. Carol takes Melvin’s cab to Brooklyn Presbyterian Hospital. There’s no chance she’ll be at work and Melvin should keep his distance.

Melvin’s publisher’s husband is a renowned doctor. A receptionist says Melvin knows what it’s like to be in her head and in her heart — motioning simultaneously to both. Melvin’s repulsed, but explains he writes women like men — removing reason and accountability.

Inside Carol’s apartment, Dr Bettes introduces himself. He was told to take excellent care of Spencer. Carol has a serious conversation with the doctor about Spencer’s asthma. When he says his home number’s on his business card for when the tests come back that day, Mom, Beverly, laughs in disbelief.

The doctor promises Spencer’s going to feel much better from now on, mentioning that Mr Udall has agreed to cover any costs incurred. Carol’s concerned about Melvin’s motives, but Beverly says this is a gift you don’t send back.

Wheelchair-bound, Simon breaks down crying — there being nothing worse than having to feel this way in front of someone like Melvin. Melvin insults Simon, who yells back. Melvin offers casual, homophobic slurs. At this, Simon jumps out of his chair and physically attacks Melvin.

Simon’s losing his apartment and has lost the will to paint. He’s feeling so sorry for himself, it’s difficult to breathe. It’s high time for Melvin, though, the gay neighbour is absolutely terrified. Melvin comes clean about enticing Verdell with bacon. He sets up a demonstration which tragically backfires. Melvin finally leaves.

In the middle of the night, Carol takes the bus to see Melvin. She says she’s never going to sleep with him. Melvin’s more keen to learn she’ll be at work the next morning.

At 3:22am, Melvin brings Simon Chinese soup. Melvin admits to tiredness, sickness and nausea. Simon says everything looks distorted and everything inside aches and he can barely find the will to complain.

Simon’s got to get to Baltimore the next day to ask his parents for money. Frank wants Melvin to drive him — using Frank’s convertible. Melvin agrees to go, dismissively offending Frank — who storms out.

Melvin asks Carol about Dr Bettes. She says that changed her life. Melvin says he wants her to do something for him. She should come to Baltimore.

Next day, Melvin introduces Carol and Simon in offensive terms. She asks about Simon’s face and lets Simon take the front seat. Melvin moves his seat as far forward as it’ll go for Carol. Him having to now drive squeezed-up uncomfortably against the steering wheel.

Simon’s Mom used to pose nude for him. Then, his Dad walked in and started screaming, beating Simon unconscious. When Simon left for college, his Dad gave him some cash and said don’t come back.

Over the phone, Carol’s pleased to hear Spencer scored a goal. She wants to go dancing. Simon’s exhausted, so Melvin’s her date. He’s flustered, but jumps in the shower. After a long while, he emerges in clouds of steam.

The maître d’ wants to lend Melvin a tie and jacket, but Melvin’s disgusted. He drives to a clothing store and points to any jacket and tie from the threshold of the shop’s impossible floor.

Melvin can’t believe he’s forced to buy new clothes, but Carol can wear a housedress. Carol urgently wants a compliment for this insult. After having yelled their order at a random waiter, confirming if Carol wants fries or baked, Melvin delivers his compliment. Carol makes Melvin want to be a better man. She kisses Melvin and asks why he brought her on the trip. He has mixed thoughts — including her having sex with Simon… She storms out.

Carol arrives angry at the hotel room. Simon’s mainly thinking about how to die. He then watches Carol getting undressed and becomes motivated to draw again. She’s beautiful — her skin, her long neck. The back, the line of her. Soon, Carol relaxes into it. Simon’s now sketching so fast, his hand won’t keep up. He tears off part of the cast, freeing up his wrist.

Next day, Melvin asks if Simon slept with Carol. Carol says it was better than sex. What she needed: Simon gave her great. Simon grins from ear to ear. Melvin wordlessly closes the door behind him.

Simon calls his Mom saying her son is happy. He’s working again and doesn’t need anything. He’s nervous, but suddenly, everything seems easy.

Melvin tells Simon they’ve sublet Simon’s apartment. Luckily, Frank’s found a temporary place. Back in Manhattan, Carol says she doesn’t want to know Melvin anymore. Simon’s speechless when he sees his room in Melvin’s apartment. His music, paintings, paints all are there. Simon says he loves Melvin. Melvin says he’d be the luckiest guy alive if that did it for him.

Carol calls. Melvin sits down, smooths his hair, picks up the phone and coughs. What she said on the street afterwards made her sick to her stomach. There were extraordinary kindnesses that took place.

Carol thinks Melvin’s an extraordinary guy, but she doesn’t want contact with him. Simon says Melvin’s lucky because he knows who he wants. Melvin should visit Carol this night and tell her how he feels. He should catch her off guard. Melvin notices that he forgot to double-lock the front door.

Carol wasn’t asleep, but she often wishes she had a regular boyfriend. Melvin suggests they take a walk, even though it’s four in the morning. There’s a bakery nearby that should be opening soon. They’re just two people who like warm rolls.

He avoids the cracks in the pavement instead of mounting the kerb. Melvin’s in the gutter saying he’s feeling better. Melvin says he might be the only person on the face of the Earth that knows Carol’s the greatest woman on Earth. He wonders how people can watch her bring their food and clear their tables and never get that they just met the greatest woman alive. The fact that Melvin gets it makes him feel good about himself.

Melvin kisses Carol, then kisses her a second time even better. As they go in the bakery, Melvin notices that stepping on cracks is now no problem for him.

Starring Jack Nicholson. Helen Hunt. Greg Kinnear. Rated 15. Dir James L Brooks. Released in the UK 1997. Runtime 2hrs 18mins

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AdGridley

Ad teaches & gives speeches on his MH struggle + recovery at institutions right across the world. (Movie Sushi pieces contain spoilers)