Nicholson is the ultimate anti-authority antihero
When he's a bad guy, you love him (see "Batman," "Shining.") When he's a good guy, you love him (see "About Schmidt.") Even when he's a cranky homophobe, you love him (see "As Good As It Gets.") You can't hate Jack Nicholson, it's just impossible, when he comes in with that devilish grin, you know you're in for a good time. This film blew me away, and it's not because it's a big spectacle. Milos Forman himself said he took a very naturalistic approach to filming. For those who haven't seen this movie since it came out in '75, you might've forgotten that it's HILARIOUS in its first act, where Nicholson's R.P. McMurphy starts raising Cain in the mental asylum he sent himself to to get away from the work farm he was sentenced to. But it's very evident that Mac is far from crazy: he's a lowlife genius, always starting bets, getting everyone riled up. But here's the thing: he's got a heart as big as the basketball he tries to get Chief to dunk. And after so many years of seeing Louise Fletcher's Nurse Ratched as one of the all-time greatest villains, I was expecting an extremely sinister woman who practiced corrupt deeds. Ratched isn't like that at all. She is Mac's antithesis, demanding order and running things in the exact same way she's been doing them for years until he showed up. It's not a showy performance at all, but she's quite chilling and quietly tyrannical. In a small review like this, I can't even begin to go into the cast, maybe the finest talent assembled for an all-male supporting ensemble ever, with young Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito destroying their roles, especially the latter, who made me laugh with just about every oblivious smile he created. My only complaint is that it felt a little long, and some things that happened were convenient for the movie's sake. But this is the type of the movie that'd never get made today for a wide release: a drama about people. No special effects. No gimmicks. Just outstanding acting, directing and a stellar script. It might be Nicholson's defining performance.
This title contains:
Violence & scariness