(In theaters, January 2003) One of Niven’s Laws (From SF writer Larry Niven) states “Think before you make the coward’s choice. Old age is not for sissies.” However glamorous or easy it may appear, being old sucks. Being retired is even worse. That seems to be the message of About Schmidt, a profoundly depressing look at a man who comes to realize he’s a complete failure. OK, OK, it’s not as bad as that, and Writer/Director Alexander Payne makes darn sure there’s a ray of hope somewhere. It still doesn’t make the film more enjoyable. This is the type of story built around a series of humiliation vignettes: situations are set up where the only suspense is in knowing how the protagonist will make a fool of himself. Jack Nicholson is good in one of his least Jack-Nicholsonish roles yet. But few are sympathetic in this story, and that includes one of the most obnoxious daughter role in recent memory. Older viewers will probably get much more out of this film than I did; I just couldn’t care less.