Jack is back. Finally.
Jack Nicholson will star in his first film since 2010’s disappointing “How Do You Know.” He’ll headline a U.S. remake of the foreign film “Toni Erdmann,” which made plenty of “Best Of” lists late last year.
Until recently, it appeared Nicholson had either lost interest in films or, perhaps, wasn’t well enough to get back in front of the camera. He didn’t fully explain his protracted absence, which made things even murkier.
Unlike most stars today, Nicholson doesn’t feel compelled to share every minor detail of his life.
Now, the 79-year-old star will return to what he does best. And while some of his best work came as a young and hungry actor, Nicholson starred in a number of terrific films later in his career.
Cases in point: The following five films all released after he hit the big 5-0.
5. About Schmidt
Nicholson teams with “Election” director Alexander Payne for this warm, witty look at growing older … alone.
The actor’s character is widowed early in the film. That leaves him with even less in his already bland life than he expected. The obligatory road trip ensues, as does a crazy hot tub encounter with Kathy Bates.
It’s to Nicholson’s credit that Schmidt, an otherwise dud of a soul, captivates us so completely.
Before “Iron Man,” “Doctor Strange,” and “Deadpool” made superhero movies matter, Nicholson brought the Joker to the big screen. Paired with an unlikely Batman (Michael Keaton), Nicholson’s Joker proved as chaotic as the era allowed.
The rest was all Nicholson.
Years later, Heath Ledger brought an uncoiled Joker to the screen that managed to out-Jack Jack. That doesn’t take away what Nicholson injected into Tim Burton’s superhero saga.
3. Something’s Gotta Give
You can count the number of great screen romances aimed at older Americans on two hands. Or perhaps just one.
“Something’s Gotta Give” qualifies, even with that atrocious title. Nicholson plays the typical cad who can’t stop chasing younger women. That changes when he meets Diane Keaton, a capable, accomplished woman he simply cannot ignore.
Nicholson can do just about anything on screen — even turn his rascally self into a suitable rom-com candidate.
2. As Good As It Gets
Yes, Nicholson is too old to be romancing Helen Hunt. Still, the screenplay crackles and both Nicholson and Hunt walked away with Oscars for their efforts.
This isn’t director James L. Brooks’ finest hour. That’s likely “Broadcast News.” It’s still a solid story about a deeply flawed man struggling to change to win a good woman’s heart.
It’s never quite that simple, particularly with Nicholson emphasizing just what a jerk his character can be. Which makes his eventual transformation all the more remarkable.
1. A Few Good Men
Some audiences can’t handle screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who wrote this screenplay based on his own play. Sorkin routinely injects his ideology into his work. And there are elements of that in this 1992 courtroom drama.
Yet the dramatic fireworks are considerable, especially when Nicholson’s Col. Jessup is on screen.
Could anyone cry, “you can’t handle the truth!” with Nicholson’s authority? Of course not. That makes the actor, merely a supporting player here, the film’s true MVP.