Long Story Short: Jack Nicholson goes to a mental hospital. Finally.
Alan Says :
The amount of space we have to write will not do this movie justice. Many consider One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Fantasy Films), based on Ken Kesey’s novel, to be one of the greatest movies of all time. The film is unique in the sense that it is funny, depressing and heartwarming at the same time. Jack Nicholson delivers one of his best performances, playing a role that he should be familiar with: a brash and womanizing wise-ass.
Nicholson’s character, Randall P. MacMurphy, arrives at the state hospital as a man who fakes his insanity so he can get an “easier” jail sentence. MacMurphy’s first reactions to the other patients are priceless. He soon learns to become their friend, and he starts to bring some happiness into their lives. Mac, as he is known to the other patients, steals a bus and takes the boys fishing one day, resulting in one of the best scenes of the movie.
The patients all have great on-screen chemistry, and it is hysterical to see each one’s idiosyncrasies and habits. My favorites are the man who incessantly dances in the background of the hospital and The Chief, a huge Native American man who never speaks. Nurse Ratched runs the hospital. She is soft spoken and appears gentle, but you will soon realize why she is one of the most hated villains in movie history.
If you’re like me, movies dated much past the early ’80s usually aren’t appealing. But One Flew Over was made in ’75 and is easily one of my favorite movies of all time.
It’s not only funny but heartwarming and sad at the same time. It’s comparable in that respect to Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (which in itself is phenomenal, but still nowhere near this film). The situations and dialogue are often witty, but the humor goes much deeper than typical movies. A perfect irony is made by the way Mac sees the methods to the patients’ madness.
Just like the book, the film is able to maintain its great sense of allegory, sharply satirizing the “normal” world. Viewers can’t help but see the humor and tragedy in their own emotions after seeing it through the eyes of Mac, or the Chief, or even Danny Devito’s Mr. Martini.
This, in my opinion, is Nicholson’s best role ever. There is no more admirable anti-hero in television, film or literature. And no one could have played it better. Had he not become an actor, this probably would have been his biography.
Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched is so subtly evil that she’s the absolute antithesis of Jack’s boisterous mutineer, and it’s this quietness that makes one hate her even more. Finally, the supporting cast of Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd and many others make the background characters just as memorable. The movie, in all aspects, is nothing short of perfect.