Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

As Good As It Gets (1997)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

As Good As It Gets (1997)

In co-writer/director James Brooks' romantic comedy:

  • the introduction, under the title credits, of the main character - obsessive-compulsive novelist Melvin Udall (Oscar-winning Jack Nicholson), living in Greenwich Village - who suffered from OCD and had many serious issues and rituals that guided his life, e.g., repetitive hand-cleansing and other routines due to fear of germs, stock-piling of soap bars, avoiding stepping on sidewalk cracks, using his own plastic utensils in a restaurant, etc.
  • the scene of reclusive, vicious-spirited, cranky Melvin dining in his customary Greenwich Village cafe-restaurant when he made an offhand joke - a really mean and offensive remark about Brooklynite single mother/waitress Carol Connelly's (Oscar-winning Helen Hunt) asthmatic son Spencer (Jesse James); when ordering his breakfast of slightly-unhealthy ingredients: ("You're gonna die soon with that diet - you know that") - she raged at Melvin when he joked: "We're all gonna die soon, you will, I will, and it sure sounds like your son will"; she spoke harshly to him: "If you ever mention my son again, you will never be able to eat here again, do you understand? Give me some sign you understand, or leave now! Do you understand me? You crazy f--k! Do you?"
  • the scene of Melvin, who lived alone, reluctantly befriending the Pomeranian dog Verdell (a Brussels Griffon bred) of his gay artist-painter neighbor Simon Nye (Greg Kinnear), who was hospitalized after being mugged during a robbery, and his attempt to feed it in his living room
  • the sequence of Melvin indulging the lobby receptionist (Julie Benz), a pretty blonde fan who idolized him: "I can't resist. You usually move through here so quickly, and I just have so many questions I wanna ask you. You have no idea what your work means to me"; she touched her forehead and heart and gushed: "That somebody out there knows what it's like to be in here....How do you write women so well?" - under his breath, he called their discussion a "nightmare," and replied: "I think of a man. And I take away reason and accountability"
  • and later after Melvin (unsolicited) paid for a specialist to treat Carol's ill son (so that she could continue to serve him) - her further anger at him when she rushed to his apartment in a rainstorm in the middle of the night (causing her thin blouse to be soaked to the skin and see-through) and vowed never to have sex with him, believing he had an ulterior motive beyond returning to the restaurant and serving him breakfast: ("I'm not gonna sleep with you! I will never sleep with you, never, ever! Not ever!") - he responded jokingly: "Well, I'm sorry, but, uhm, we don't open for the 'no sex oaths' until 9 am"
  • the masterfully funny scene of Melvin and Carol's dinner date in a Baltimore, Maryland seafood restaurant ("Do they sell hard-shells?"), when he was required to wear the proper attire (he was offered a loaner coat and tie, but drove off to purchase new ones), and his beating around the bush to finally offer flattering and complimentary words to her; he referred to his taking of his mental-illness medication after she told him she wouldn't sleep with him: "You make me want to be a better man"; after a long pause, she responded: "That's maybe the best compliment of my life" - he explained further: "Well, maybe I overshot a little, because I was aiming at just enough to keep you from walkin' out"; after he claimed he had become exhausted talking emotionally, she came over closer to him and asked: "Do you ever let a romantic moment make you do something you know is stupid?" - and then gave him a lengthy kiss; when he sheepishly said: "You don't owe me that," she responded: "That wasn't a payment"
Melvin and Carol's Dinner Date and Kiss
"You make me want to be a better man"
"That's maybe the best compliment of my life"
Carol's Response: A Kiss ("That wasn't a payment")
  • in the final scene, Carol and Melvin spoke on the street; she claimed: "You don't know me all that well. I'm not the answer for you"; he took her statement as a challenge and provided her with another major compliment; he delivered a long confessional of love to her: ("I might be the only person on the face of the earth that knows you're the greatest woman on earth. I might be the only one who appreciates how amazing you are in every single thing that you do, and how you are with Spencer, 'Spence,' and in every single thought that you have, and how you say what you mean, and how you almost always mean something that's all about being straight and good. I think most people miss that about you, and I watch them, wondering how they can watch you bring their food, and clear their tables and never get that they just met the greatest woman alive. And the fact that I get it makes me feel good, about me. Is that something that's bad for you to be around, for you?"), and after she paused and then replied no, Melvin warned: "I'm gonna grab ya. I didn't mean for that to be a question. I'm gonna grab ya" - and gave her a passionate clinch on the street; then, he assured her: "I know I can do better than that" - and kissed her a second time; she complimented him: "Better. Definitely better"; as they walked away, the camera noted that Melvin was standing on a sidewalk crack - but was unperturbed; they entered a bakery that was just opening for business, for "warm rolls"
Confession of Love: "The Greatest Woman Alive"

Melvin Udall - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Offended Single Mother Waitress Carol Connelly (Helen Hunt) at Melvin's Joke

Melvin's Reaction to Carol's Rant

Gay Neighbor Simon Nye
(Greg Kinnear)

Caring For and Feeding Simon's Dog Verdell

Melvin's Idolizing Fan
(Julie Benz)

Carol: "I will never sleep with you!"


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z