Stars: Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, Greg Kinnear, Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Yeardley Smith. Written by James L. Brooks & Mark Andrus. Directed by James L. Brooks. Rated PG-13 for profanity, adult situations.

Jack Nicholson plays Melvin Udall, an abrasive but highly successful novelist plagued with obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD), in the romantic comedy "As Good As It Gets". Because of his malady, Melvin must keep to a rigid, self-imposed itinerary each day in order to keep himself in control. So when the waitress who always serves him breakfast fails to show up one day, he panics and goes to her apartment. Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) has taken the day off to attend to the needs of her chronically ill son and canít be bothered by this rather creepy intrusion into her personal life.

In order to get his own life back on track, Melvin arranges for the best in medical care for Carolís son, wanting nothing more in return than the restoration of his daily routine. That is, until Carol pays him a late night visit to insist that she will not sleep with him in exchange for his kindness. At that point, a light goes on in Melvinís head and the next day he begins to pursue this forthright beauty, without any idea of how to do it. Confounding his romantic attempts are his mental condition, his bluntness, and his gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear) whose life has fallen apart and who increasingly relies on the kindness of this rather gruff man.

"As Good As It Gets" is one of the best written films ever, and the acting by the two principal characters is up to the challenge. Kinnear also generates a believable performance by not overplaying his part. This film is filled with wonderful, quotable lines and has been deftly directed by the creator of such gems as "Terms of Endearment" and "Broadcast News". Itís a rare gem that deserves to be watched again and again.

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