You have to admire the sheer audacity of a comedy that opens with a man heaving a little dog down a garbage chute. Dogs, after all -- especially ugly-cute ones that look like they should be auditioning for Gremlins 3
-- are the sacred cows of
contemporary Hollywood. That said, Verdell the ankle-biter recovers and proves to be the downfall of his tormentor, Melvin the monster. Melvin (Jack Nicholson) is a cranky, clinically obsessive-compulsive romance writer who lobs atomic bomb-quality put-downs at all who cross his path, including
neighbor Simon (Greg Kinnear), who provides plenty of ammo by being gay, an artist and
Verdell's indulgent owner. Melvin...