If this film finds you in the right sort of mood (wryly misanthropic) you will discover that Warren Schmidt, Jack Nicholson's embittered widower, is the perfect human vehicle for vicariously despising life and everyone else in it. He's easy to climb into because he's so empty.
This is a good film in part because the director had a hand in writing it - and he doesn't insult us with an unlikely group hug at the end. Nevertheless there's some clever, compassionate counterpoint going on which makes even the most dross-like of individuals appear warmly sympathetic, particularly in comparison with the lucid nullity that is Schmidt.
This could so easily have been depressing, but the pathos is protectively-coated with bathos - Schmidt's candidly adult letters to his 'foster son' Ndugu in Africa form a chain of chuckles from the beginning to the end, where the Director deftly achieves a sudden handbreak turn of mood.