Picks and Pans Review: As Good as It Gets

updated 01/12/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/12/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt

This isn't a perfect movie—it's a little too strident for that—but it sure is a fun one to sit through. Withes Good As It Gets, a romantic comedy in which Nicholson plays the meanest man in New York City and Hunt the only woman who will be nice to him, director-cowriter James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News) writes snappish, snappy—and sometimes sappy—dialogue like no one else. His characters are never, ever at a loss for words.

Nicholson plays a rich romance novelist whose relentless irascibility is only partly attributable to an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hunt is a single mom who waitresses at the Manhattan eatery where Nicholson chows down daily. How these two, with a little help from Nicholson's gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear, much improved from earlier movies), figure out that they just may belong together makes for a film in which love is never easy but clearly worth seeking. Nicholson, going for the gusto, is as nasty as an irritated rattlesnake and just as noisy. Hunt (TV's Mad About You) is simply splendid. (PG-13)

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