New York romantic novelist Melvin Udall (Nicholson) doesn't live up to his writing: an obsessive-compulsive, he's given to insulting whoever he meets. Melvin lowers his defences, however, after he's lumbered with the dog belonging to his neighbour Simon (Kinnear), a gay artist recuperating from a mugging, and after he decides to lure Carol (Hunt), a waitress at his local diner, back to work by offering to pay for her young son's treatment for asthma. So begins Melvin's unwitting progress towards something resembling normal behaviour. The film may be more ambitious and sophisticated than most Hollywood comedy-dramas, but for all the delight it takes in Melvin's outrageous sarcasm, it never quite eschews cornball cliché. Nicholson gives a committed, credible, typically charismatic performance, and the rest of the cast lends able support. The trouble lies in the rambling narrative, Brooks' cautious direction and the cosy tone which renders the whole thing reminiscent of an extended sitcom.