The Retarded Genius

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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Many classifications of people exist and for every different group there are just as many misunderstandings of those groups. Geniuses make up less than 1 percent of the population in the world. Since they are such a small group understanding them is almost impossible. Albert Einstein never combed his hair because he believed there was no point in the activity. In one of his classes, at the University of Zurich, he would fill up 3 or 4 chalkboards of extensive physics problems and did not know why his students could not understand what he was writing. In "As Good As It Gets," Melvin Udall appears to be a heartless, eccentric person. He does things that would not be accepted by any circles in society, but when he is really looked at he is a compassionate, obsessive-compulsive that is socially retarded.

Melvin Udall says many things in the movie that are considered politically incorrect, and uncouth.

The statements he makes are facts and he finds no hurt in stating what is true. In the beginning of the movie, when Melvin tells off Simon, he ridicules his homosexuality, but why? Melvin reveals later in the movie the absence of a father and, by isolating himself, he most likely was never able to form a male bond making homosexuality incomprehensible to him. Some of the statements are just out of social ignorance because he never learned what is proper since he isolated himself to control his condition.

On the other hand, Melvin tells Carol compliments that have more romance in one sentence than some have in a lifetime. He tells her that he would change himself to be with her and that he wants to change for the better to be with her. He is so romantic in these points in the movie that his character is obviously a very caring person.

If actions speak louder than words then Melvin shows kindness in many instances. Melvin's books illustrate how romantic he is when a secretary must stop everything she is doing to talk to him although his rebuttal brings an unexciting perspective to romance. When Simon does not have a place to stay Melvin lets him stay at his apartment and does not even reveal this to Carol to win her love. Instead he pursues her by telling her how great she is. Earlier in the movie he has a doctor go to her house to help her son so he can see who he thinks is the greatest woman alive. These actions are not that of a heartless person and if anything they are the opposite.

Albert Einstein once wrote "Understanding of our fellow human beings...becomes fruitful only when it is sustained by sympathetic feelings in joy and sorrow." Melvin Udall is a complex character, because of many psychological problems and an IQ that most can not grasp. The writer of the movie hid his compassion deep enough that the only way to see compassion in Melvin is with compassion.