What is the movie scene you keep on repeat? More pointedly, what is the scene that you must rewind and re-watch at least once before continuing that particular movie? For me, it’s Padmé’s “Anakin, you’re breaking my heart! You’re going down a path I can’t follow” in Revenge of the Sith (watch and re-watch it here). Make no mistake, that scene isn’t good. But in a movie ripe with over-acting, this scene takes the cake. Natalie Portman’s delivery is out-of-this-galaxy. When watching Revenge of the Sith, I simply have to rewind and re-watch this scene at least twice before I can finish the movie.
Good news, everyone! I have found my re-watchable scene for Greg Kinnear, in Nurse Betty! No, this scene is not pleasurable in a masochistic way like Padme’s broken heart or every scene in A Smile Like Yours. Rather, it’s PREMIER KINNEAR and I so wish I could’ve found it on YouTube. Instead, I narrate. Betty (Renée Zellweger) meets actor George McCord (Greg Kinnear) for the first time. But Betty can’t dissociate George from his role as Doctor David Ravell from the Soap Opera “Reason to Love.” And she’s convinced she’s David’s ex-fiancee. What follows is true gold. Instead of dispelling Betty’s illusion, George plays along–believing Betty is a method actress determined to get a part on “Reason to Love.” Greg as George crushes the acting turn from flattered to narcissistic actor (or are these one-and-the-same?). And the look George gives to his show’s producer when he blanks on Betty’s husband’s name may be the best of Greg’s many great looks.
But I’ve buried the lede, so let me back up. Nurse Betty is the best movie AND the best Greg Kinnear performance I’ve watched so far. And y’all know I loved Mystery Men. Nurse Betty is only $3 to rent on Amazon, and you really should.
Directed by Neil LaBute, Nurse Betty is a steroid-infused black comedy version of The Wizard of Oz. I loved it. I’m ambivalent about Renée Zellweger, but her leading performance was Golden Globe-worthy. I generally dislike black comedies, but the second half of NB had me in stitches. The script was tight and intentional with its character arcs. Nurse Betty is basically a Coen Brothers movie with a happy ending and Premier Kinnear!
The plot is ridiculous and the trailer doesn’t help. Betty Sizemore (Zellweger) lives in a small Kansas town, works as a diner waitress, and is obsessed with the soap opera “Reason to Love.” More accurately, she is obsessed with the central character of the show, heartthrob heart surgeon David Ravell (Kinnear). For her birthday, her coworkers get her a Dr. David Ravell life-size cardboard cutout, money for nursing classes, and a cupcake! Here’s Betty with her gifts:
Betty’s husband Del (Aaron Eckhart) is a sleazebag. He runs a used car dealership where he traffics drugs, sleeps with his secretary, and won’t let Betty drive the Buick. AND he eats Betty’s birthday cupcake. [This is the best early scene. The way Betty glares at Del while he’s eating the cupcake reinforces Betty’s naïveté and magnifies the injustice]. One night, two hitmen–Charlie (Morgan Freeman) and Wesley (Chris Rock)–murder and scalp Del in his home for stealing drugs from their boss.
Betty witnesses Del’s murder from another room where she’s watching “Reason.” In pure shock, she enters a “fugue state” where she believes 1) Del is still alive, 2) she leaves Del, and 3) she is David’s ex-fiancee from “Reason.” Merging the show with real life, she takes off for LA in the Buick with Del’s stolen drug stash, to reunite with David. Still with me?! Your ability to buy Betty’s “going fugue” predicts your love for this movie, but I’d argue a soap opera narrative seems more real than your husband’s scalping.
Now things get cray. At a charity event, Betty meets David who’s really actor George McCord who are both Greg Kinnear (in the scene highlighted in the intro). Betty is convinced George’s TV show David is the real version of himself. George’s friends quickly tire of her act, but George taps his narcissistic side and continues to play along. In fact, he goes on additional dates with Betty and lands her a part in an episode of “Reason” that he’s directing. The shoot goes terribly, with Betty freezing on camera and perplexed as to why David/George has her here. George’s anger mounts as he accuses Betty of “dropping the act she’s kept up for weeks” before he absolutely rips into her for ruining his directorial opportunity. This snaps Betty out of her fugue state. She returns to her LA apartment and packs her things to head home. But…
The hitmen, Charley and Wesley, are hot on her trail. They’ve questioned Betty’s parents in Oklahoma and visited the Grand Canyon before tracking her to LA. On the way, Charlie falls in love with his idea of Betty as a cold-blooded criminal mastermind who’s mastered her emotions and taken off with his boss’s drugs to make a profit. The hitmen arrive right as Betty is packing her things, but so does the Kansas sheriff. Charlie professes his love to Betty, but an awkward, grisly shootout ends with both hitmen dead. Oh, and Wesley is revealed to be Charlie’s son. Betty returns to Kansas, and is brought on to be David’s new love interest in “Reason.” The end message is a mix of there’s no place like home, actors are selfish jerks, and fantasies are a good escape until they aren’t.
Greg tugs at the old heartstrings, then rips them out
Kinnear is a better version of Captain Amazing, and I’d wager good money he was cast in Nurse Betty because of his role in Mystery Men the year before. In MM, the “Kinnear veneer” of politeness maintained by Captain Amazing progressively dissolves until he’s full-on yelling at the Mystery Men trying to save him (as I gleefully reviewed here). This smarmy, selfish jerk character gets even longer legs to run with in Nurse Betty.
We first see Kinnear through soap opera scenes as Dr. David Ravell on “Reason to Love.” His adventures include being a better surgeon on little sleep than all his co-doctors, and getting sued for sexual harassment by a nurse that came onto him after his wife died. Kinnear overacts every one of his lines like you’d imagine (“It’s not that I don’t find you attractive. I’m just not ready…”), and it’s delightful. These scenes build up goodwill, and we join Betty in expecting David to be a good guy IRL.
We then meet Kinnear as narcissistic actor George McCord, but heck if he’s not smarmy. He plays along with Betty’s belief that she’s in the show, brings her flowers, and even takes her back to his place on a date. George tries to break Betty out of her delusion with scattered comments (“I think you broke the record for staying in character about three hours ago”). But there’s no sustained, break-out-of-your-crazy effort you’d expect from a caring person. He clearly has something up his sleeve. And that something is directing.
Enraged Kinnear enters when George brings Betty down to the show’s set for an ad lib cameo. He’s directing this scene as a life-long goal and hopes Betty’s performance is the cherry-on-top. But Betty is confused (as you would be if you thought the show was real life) and doesn’t read her lines. Kinnear’s George loses it. George yells and yells (“And you’re not an actress, you’re nothing but a soap opera groupie, aren’t you? YOU HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO! DO YOU?? Well, why don’t you get a life, and stop ruining mine!”). Holy cow, I didn’t know Kinnear was so good at being angry.
Unlike Captain Amazing who dies, Kinnear’s George is redeemed. He’s forced by his producer to recruit post-trauma Betty for the show. He meets with her in a diner, his shame showing by his 5 o’clock shadow, and she puts him in his place:
“My friends says if you were any more handsome, it would be a crime. It’s a shame you’re such an asshole.”
But Betty’s too innocent to hold grudges, so of course she fulfills her lifelong dream of being on “Reason.” The movie ends with soap opera scenes of Nurse Betty and David professing their love for each other. To be clear, this is the first time in the movie Betty is any kind of nurse (technically, it’s the second as Betty accidentally lands a job as a real nurse after arriving in LA, but the movie does nothing with this). And btw neither Kinnear nor Zellweger could keep a straight face while filming this scene, and had to read their lines individually to tennis balls. Kinnear calls this his “most unprofessional moment,” which shows you how much of a class act he is.
- In Nurse Betty, we discover the Greg Kinnear scene that merits endless re-watches! Betty (Zellweger) and George (Kinnear) are both delusional, one living in an alternate reality and the other with directorial dreams, and their meeting is perfect. Almost as perfect as Padmé’s broken heart.
- I learned how to spell Zellweger! Seriously, minimize this tab and try.
- Of the NINE(!) movies watched for this project, Nurse Betty is the best. It’s a black comedy version of Wizard of Oz with a second half of non-stop action and hilarity.
- Smarmy. Narcissistic. Angry. Redeemed. These adjectives describe the arc of Kinnear’s best on-screen characters, Captain Amazing (Mystery Men) and George McCord/David Ravell (Nurse Betty). The deeper character development in NB produces our very first PREMIER KINNEAR performance!
- Next up: Baby Mama was just added to Hulu! Rejoice! It’s a crime how few GK movies are streaming. GK isn’t in the trailer even though he’s third-billed, so you’ll just have to watch the movie!
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