Movie Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
April 21, 2008

Though I just recently moved to the Oregon Coast (and thus live quite close to Depoe Bay where it was filmed), I hadn't sat down to watch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in, well... ever. Still, I'd heard good things and I figured I owed it to myself to watch it. Of course, I was right.

Jack Nicholson isn't an actor I usually think much of. Maybe I've just seen the wrong movies. He plays in interesting films and I never hate his performance. It's just that he always seems to portray such outlandish characters. I start to wonder if he can play 'normal' at some point. If I was hoping to see that side of him tonight, though, certainly I picked the wrong movie. His character in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is crazy.

Or is he? That is to me the central hook of the movie, which depicts an Oregon mental institution, circa "sometime before 1975." Nicholson's character, R. P. McMurphy, is brought there from work duty because he exhibits some of the classic signs of an insane person. He's initially there only for observation, but before long he has become part of a community of crazy people where his rambunctious nature is hardly out of place.

His chief antagonist is Nurse Ratched, a woman who oozes urbane manners but over the course of the movie reveals herself to be unflinchingly unkind. She's the sort of person that would smile at you as she slit your throat, if that makes any sort of sense.

Quickly, she and McMurphy run afoul of one another, a circumstance that continues throughout much of what in general feels rather light-hearted for a drama (though it has its moments that hit you right in the gut, most of them gathered together for the conclusion). While all of that is going on, the rest of the characters in the movie are playing their remarkable roles. There's a lot of fine acting here, from a lot of people that went onto some amazing roles and now are dead or elderly. Buoyed by the performances and the humanity of the story, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" made for as enjoyable a viewing experience tonight as I'm sure it must have 33 years ago when it was filmed.

I'm sure that some people see in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" some sort of grand message for or about society, but I didn't. To me, it was simply an enjoyable film with some regrettable moments and with others that had me laughing or thinking... but never too hard. It didn't feel like it catered to the stupid or that it was meant to be above anyone's head. To me, it was a movie made for just about anyone. I didn't like the ending, but I can't really hold that against the plot or the actors or the picture. Besides that, it just shows how much the thing had me under its spell.

If my little review here isn't quite coherent, I hope you'll excuse me. I've just been watching a whole bunch of crazy people. I'm not thinking quite straight.

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Genj Genj - April 21, 2008 (01:34 AM)
This is a great movie yet it will always be slightly tainted in my mind by the fact I had to write a very dumb paper on it for a class last year. I'm always going to be reminded of that awful class now by the film.
disco1960 disco1960 - April 21, 2008 (11:05 AM)
Aha, back in college I saw it in play form and had to write a dumb paper about it.
bluberry bluberry - April 24, 2008 (03:57 PM)
I stopped reading good books in high school so that I wouldn't come to hate them.

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