* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where one man's hero is another man's villain. Yes, there are heroes, and then there are heroes. And then there is Ralph Gamelli...

A Hero Among You

By: Ralph Gamelli

Most people out there have no idea I exist, that I patrol the city by night, constantly on the lookout for crime or a new singles’ bar.

I don’t wear a mask and cape, although I’ll occasionally don a muscle shirt and sunglasses, and offer compliments to the pretty ladies who pass by the front stoop of my apartment building. When they give me the finger in response, they might as well be flipping off justice itself.

I don’t drive a sleek black car that shoots fire from its exhaust. My car is designed to blend in — the kind of rust bucket you might see scattering pedestrians in a crosswalk or cutting you off in traffic, and you raise your fist and swear at the driver, but what you don’t realize is that the driver leads a double life as a crime fighter and should maybe be cut a little slack.

My fighting skills may not be the best in the world, but I can take several shots to the head before I go down, especially if I’ve had a few to drink. And on my way to the floor I’ve been known to reach out and take a handful of hair with me.

The cops aren’t on my side. Without a doubt they consider me a vigilante. At various times they’ve also considered me a loiterer, a graffitist and a ticket scalper. Just last week when I was digging for information out on the street, they brought me in for solicitation. I played along and let them put me in a holding cell until I could post bail, all the while thinking it ironic that here I was, the antihero, the “defender of the people” they’re so desperate to collar, and yet they had no idea who I really was, or that I was wanted in another state for passing bad checks.

I don’t have an arch nemesis. That doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of enemies out there, though, including the waitress at City Diner, assorted bouncers and bartenders, and anybody who uses the word “literally” too often. There’s also no shortage of people in my own building I can’t stand — so smug and superior just because they’ve never been caught naked in the laundry room.

My parents weren’t killed by a criminal when I was a kid, although they have disowned me, so in a way it’s kind of the same thing. And I do have an origin story of sorts, going back to only last month. I was in the middle of one of my favorite pastimes — which is to hail a cab, wait for it to pull over to the curb, then give the driver a rude gesture and stroll away — when all of a sudden I heard an old lady scream that her purse had been snatched. I don’t know what made me take off after the guy. Maybe it was some deep, natural instinct for justice, or possibly it was because the cabbie had gotten out of his car and was approaching me with a tire iron. Whatever it was, I chased the thief for three blocks until eventually I grabbed him, took several shots to the head, and yanked out a handful of hair on my way to the ground.

Even though he got away, I managed to take the purse away from him and bring it back to the old lady. The contents were gone, of course, but $47 in cash, a box of tissue paper and half a roll of Lifesavers could be looked at as a reasonable finder’s fee.

And that was how my crusade began. Nothing has happened since then, but I remain ever vigilant, ever watchful, usually from my front stoop. So if you happen to be a criminal yourself, you better watch your back. And if you happen to be one of those ladies who pass by, why not cut out the snob act for once? Some heroes are millionaire playboys during their off hours. Others would settle for just a friendly smile and maybe a compliment on their muscle shirt.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where baseball season never ends. Well, of course, it did end recently, and in fact the Red Sox didn't play a very prominent role this year. But don't take that tone with Ralph Gamelli!

A Red Sox Fan Presents: The Odd Couple

By: Ralph Gamelli


A high-rise apartment building



(RED SOX FAN enters the apartment.)

RSF: Yankees Fan! The ladies are waiting down in the lobby. Aren’t you ready yet?

(A voice responds from the bathroom, which is open.)

YF: Just about.

(RED SOX FAN walks over to find YANKEES FAN bent over the tub, drowning a litter of kittens. RED SOX FAN shakes his head with bemusement.)

RSF: You’re going to make us late. It wasn’t easy to get us this double date with the Pigeon sisters, you know.

(The last of the thrashing ceases. Satisfied, YANKEES FAN straightens up.)

YF: All set. Let’s go.

RSF: Not so fast. Your shirt’s wet. You better go change it.

(YANKEES FAN is annoyed, but complies. He looks at himself approvingly in his bedroom mirror, then steps over to the corner, where there’s a stack of cinderblocks. He hefts one, tosses it out the open window and walks out of the room. From far below come the sounds of shattering glass, shrieking tires and screams. RED SOX FAN is waiting anxiously at the apartment door.)

RSF: That’s the shirt you’re going to wear?

YF: What’s wrong with it?

(RED SOX FAN points at a faded, pinkish stain on the cuff.)

YF: No big deal. Just a little wine.

RSF: It’s blood. Last week at lunch you jabbed your salad fork into the waiter’s neck.

YF: Oh, yeah.

(YANKEES FAN rolls up both sleeves to the elbow.)

YF: Problem solved.

(RED SOX FAN shakes his head and they step out into the hallway.)

RSF: Just don’t embarrass me tonight.

YF: I was going to tell you the same thing.

(An OLD LADY and her young GRANDSON are moving toward them. RED SOX FAN nods politely and hugs the wall to give them room to pass. YANKEES FAN, however, trips the OLD LADY and tells the GRANDSON there’s no Santa Claus. RED SOX FAN rolls his eyes and presses the button for the elevator. They stand in the hall, waiting.)

YF: So who do the sisters like? Yanks or Sox?

RSF: I didn’t ask.

YF: Didn’t ask?

RSF: It didn’t seem important.

YF: Are you crazy?!

(RED SOX FAN puts his arm around YANKEES FAN’s shoulder and grins warmly.)

RSF: Sometimes I think so, buddy. Sometimes I think so.

(YANKEES FAN grumpily brushes off RED SOX FAN’s arm, pulls a pistol from out of nowhere, and plants the barrel against RED SOX FAN’s temple. The elevator door opens. RED SOX FAN steps inside while YANKEES FAN remains in the hall, still aiming his pistol. RED SOX FAN holds the door open for him.)

RSF: You coming?

(For a moment, YANKEES FAN continues to glare at him. Then a grin breaks out on his face and he puts away the gun.)

YF: I’m with you, buddy.

(YANKEES FAN takes out his cell phone, dials the Vatican and calls in a bomb threat, then steps in to join his best friend.)

Welcome to The Big Jewel, now Bigger and Jewel-eyer than ever! It's only the second week of our redesigned site. Can you stand the excitement? Well, we can't. In fact, we think we're having a heart attack. And that's not too far from what's happening to this week's author, Ralph Gamelli...

Don’t Make Me Angry (You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry)

By: Ralph Gamelli

Take this as a warning: when I lose my temper, I transform into something not entirely human.

One thing I’ll do in this state is stomp all around the place. You might find this amusing for a few moments, even boyishly charming. But after an hour and a half? Not so much.

I’ll also break stuff — easily breakable things for the most part. So if you’re doing a crossword, it might be wise to hide an extra pencil in your pocket and take it out only after I’ve left the room.

You should know that I’ll furiously drum my fingers against the nearest available surface — a table top, a desk, your face, whatever.

They say I get an enraged expression that really distorts my features. You’ll be tempted to laugh, but don’t. This will get me even angrier, distorting my features all the more, and before you know it, we’ll be locked in an escalating cycle of rage, laughter, rage, laughter, until one of us has an aneurism.

If someone has asked me to feed their fish while they’re away, and then I fly off the handle, there’s a good chance I’ll forget to feed them. Keep that in mind before you ask me.

Undoubtedly I’ll grind my teeth. If we’re someplace quiet, you’ll hear this repetitive _click click click_ sound which I’m told can be incredibly annoying, especially if you’re trying to read.

During particularly bad episodes I’ve been known to call my therapist and tell her all about it, including the name of the person who set me off, even if he or she is right there in the room. If that person is you, it can be pretty awkward.

If there’s a snowman nearby, I’ll knock it over and trample it into a fine powder.

Same thing with a sand castle. Total decimation.

I won’t topple a house of cards, though. Those things take forever to build and, as ferocious as I get during these times, I retain just enough of my humanity to prevent me from going that one step too far.

Don’t be surprised if you hear a grating series of impatient sighs or, if you’re exceptionally unlucky, very loud, sarcastic humming. It won’t even be a real song.

Occasionally, and this is a weird one, I’ll take off my shoe and start pounding the heel into my palm. It hurts like hell and I have no idea why I do it or what it signifies, but I do it anyway.

Once, I got so mad I bit my lip and drew blood. Needless to say, if you’ve got a light-colored carpet, you really don’t want to get on my bad side.

Eventually, of course, I’ll calm down and become just an ordinary, average man again. As I regain control of my senses, I’ll be momentarily disoriented. This is the best time to hit me up for a loan or ask me to feed your fish while you’re away.


FAQ: The Never-Say-Ow™ Personal Force Field

By: Ralph Gamelli

Q: I’ve strapped on my force field and activated it according to the instructions. Now what?

Go about your day as usual, free at long last from the nagging worry of being struck by snowballs, rocks or even bullets. Any and all projectiles will bounce harmlessly off your Never-Say-Ow™ personal force field, making your attacker shudder with impotent rage and humiliation. This may be the ideal time to respond with your Glock semi-automatic (not included).

Q: What about other hazards, such as fists? There are a lot of people out there who’d like to punch me.

The person who attempts it is going to shatter every bone in his hand… and leave himself open to a swift and devastating kick to the solar plexus.

Q: The instructions say that the force field is completely invisible and soundless, so how can I be sure it’s actually on?

Simply approach the nearest female and proposition her in the rudest manner imaginable. You may have flinched when she threw her scalding hot coffee at your face, but did you feel anything? No, because it spattered ineffectively against your Never-Say-Ow™ personal force field. (If you did feel something, then no, it wasn’t properly activated. Reread the instruction manual before propositioning anyone else, then perform a safer test, such as having a friend throw a pie in your face.)

Q: Okay, the force field is definitely on, and there’s a certain sense of invulnerability walking around with it. In fact, I almost feel like Superman. I know I can’t fly, but could I act like a superhero with the help of my force field?

I don’t see why not. Conversely, you might choose to emulate a super villain.

Q: I hadn’t thought of that. My first instinct was to go the opposite route.

It doesn’t matter. More and more people are purchasing the Never-Say-Ow™ personal force field every day. Sooner or later, everyone will be on equal footing again. Whether you lean towards heroism or villainy, we recommend you get to it without too much delay.

Q: What about more conventional situations? Can I take a shower with my force field on?

No. You must deactivate it before showering.

Q: What about eating?

You must also deactivate it before eating.

Q: I guess I could turn it off while showering, because I’m in a locked bathroom. But if I’m eating in public and my force field is down, aren’t I leaving myself open to attack?

You better believe it.

Q: What if I turn off my force field, shove a forkful of food into my mouth, then switch it on again real quick?

Good thinking.

Q: I’ve never felt more protected in my life, but I’ve noticed that it still hurts when people say mean things to me. Is there anything my force field can do about this?

Sorry, the Never-Say-Ow™ personal force field is only designed to keep you free from physical harm. You’ll still be vulnerable to insults, mockery and calls from telemarketers.

Q: What about rude gestures and nasty looks?

You’ll remain susceptible to these, as well. Perhaps if you were a bit less sensitive and more of a man, these kinds of slights wouldn’t bother you so much.

Q: I suppose.

We can’t protect you from every little thing, now, can we?

Q: There’s no reason to be condescending.

It’s obvious that even with your Never-Say-Ow™ personal force field, you’ll continue to play the victim. I sensed this the moment you empathized with heroes over villains.

Q: Can we please move on? I have a question about–

Don’t you realize what kind of power you yield now? Only a coward stays on the defensive when he could take anything he wants without fear of injury. Together, with the aid of our Never-Say-Ow™ personal force fields, we could bring this city to its knees. What do you say?

Q: I don’t think so.

You’re either with me or against me.

Q: Stop talking like that, please.

Or what? You’ll give me a nasty look? Boohoo. The question guy looked nasty at me and now I’m going to cry.

Q: I said stop.

Make me.

Q: I’m not kidding. I’ll hit you.

Go for it. Turn off your Never-Say-Ow™ personal force field and I’ll turn off mine.

Q: There. It’s off.

Mine, too. So go on and hit me. I dare you.

Q: Ow!

Woops. Guess I didn’t turn it off after all. Too bad the Never-Say-Ow™ personal force field can’t protect you from being a naive idiot.

Q: My hand!

Looks like you’ve shattered every bone in it. You’ll have to get it looked at. But first, a swift and devastating kick to the solar plexus.


My Baseball Scouting Reports

By: Ralph Gamelli

Age 8

Prospect has effortlessly made the transition from wiffle ball to tennis ball. Unfortunately, he refuses to give up the plastic bat he’s had since age four and which he still affectionately refers to as “Mr. Bluey.” His backyard fielding and hitting are coming along nicely, but at this point it’s his control of the ball that stands out, particularly when his little brother runs to first base and the prospect pretends that hitting the runner in the head is an accident instead of payback for a stolen Pop Tart.

Age 10

Prospect and his companions have moved their game to a small field down the street, the use of real bats and baseballs having led to an unfortunate incident involving prospect’s kitchen window and many weeks of lost allowance. His talent continues to develop, and he leads his fellow players in home runs, doubles and coolness of headfirst slides. Hopefully, this is due to superior athletic skill and not the fact that he tends to play with kids who are at least a year or two younger than him.

Age 11

Prospect has signed up for Little League, where his batting average and power numbers have taken a sharp dip due to his obvious fear of getting hit by the ball (which is not pitched in the slow, underhand manner to which he’s grown accustomed). Can only be viewed as a setback.

Age 11

Prospect has quit Little League halfway through the season and is back playing with the younger neighborhood kids. Batting average soars.

Age 12

Vowing that he will one day play in the big leagues, prospect has committed himself to a daily training program of video game baseball, which he has quickly come to prefer to the real thing. If physical skills ever approach video game skills, we have a potential superstar on our hands.

Age 13

In an attempt to get prospect away from the TV, prospect’s parents have given him a pitch-back net, and he can be seen playing catch with himself for entire afternoons. While such devotion will be beneficial in a future major leaguer, he’s currently gaining a reputation as the creepily obsessed baseball kid, and fewer neighbors ask him to mow their lawns.

Age 14

After what must be a million throws, the pitch-back net has at last broken. Worried parents clearly elated.

Age 16

Prospect went 3-for-3 in his gym class softball game, prompting a member of the baseball team to casually mention that he should try out for this year’s team. Hard to tell if he was being serious. (Prospect’s three hits were all bloop singles, making sarcasm a distinct possibility.) In any case, prospect seemed happy with himself, even if he didn’t actually try out for the team, preferring to watch reruns of Knight Rider instead.

Age 21

Prospect spotted at a neighborhood batting cage in a misguided attempt to impress his date. Even though the mechanism allows no potential for error, unfailingly delivering each 60-mph pitch over the plate, prospect is still noticeably afraid of getting hit. Continued scouting not recommended. Zero probability of him ever reaching the bigs, and only slightly better chance of him reaching first base metaphorically.

Age 35

Update: under pressure from work friends, this long-forgotten prospect has joined a softball league, where the pitches are slow and underhand again. He’s quickly developed into the seventh-best player on his team. If he continues at this rate, chances are good he could become a player of note in the softball league, or at least a player of note on his own team.

Age 35

Prospect has been kicked off his team for hitting an opponent in the head as that player ran to first. Victim apparently took a can of beer from prospect’s team bench and prospect felt retaliation was needed. He now spends much of his free time on a strip of grass behind his apartment building, playing with a vintage pitch-back net purchased from eBay. He’s gaining a reputation as the creepily-obsessed baseball guy from 3A, and fewer neighbors talk to him on the elevator.


Notes For My Future Novel About The Last Man On Earth

By: Ralph Gamelli

Following an apocalyptic disaster, main character finds himself completely alone — but it’s the good kind of alone. Disaster should be sufficiently devastating to wipe out all human life on the planet yet not cause main character, who has always been kept down by others, any further hardship.

Plague seems like best way to go. It eliminates the people but leaves everything else, including main character’s CD collection, intact. Fortunately, the infection can take no hold on him. At first he assumes it’s merely some natural immunity — an incredible stroke of luck in an otherwise disappointing existence — but as the story unfolds he’ll come to realize it’s much more than that. There’s something about him that is inherently better than other people, as he’s always suspected. He deserves to survive. Not so with everyone else, whom he won’t miss one tiny bit. (Be careful not to let this lack of sorrow, this certainty that they all got what was coming to them, impinge on main character’s likeability.)

He soon abandons his apartment, which was too small anyway, and conducts a perfunctory search for other survivors. He neither expects, nor hopes, to find any. His real reason for leaving is to escape the bad memories. Two weeks ago he came home early and caught his wife and supposed best friend in bed together. Plague should be particularly unkind to these two characters, who die regretting their unthinkable betrayal of main character’s trust. But it’s too little, too late. They’re dead now.

Eventually main character’s search takes him to one of those mansion-like houses he saw once while driving through Connecticut, and which he claims as his own. (The house, not the state, though of course both are his for the taking.) This is his very first act of materialism ever. Before the end of civilization he didn’t get paid enough to be that way, despite being the only one at the office who knew what he was doing. Promotions never seemed to come his way. It was all politics. A popularity contest. But they’re corpses and he’s still here. Who’s Mr. Popularity now?

About the corpses: think of a way to negate the unpleasantness of having them spread out over the cities and towns, polluting main character’s air with their stench. If the plague originated in outer space, it could conceivably disintegrate the bodies over the span of a few hours, leaving the world fresh and clean for main character yet allowing him just enough time to strut through the corpse-filled streets feeling smugly superior. (With likeability again in mind, limit this gloating to five or six chapters.)

Although the Space Plague has its way with mankind, it should leave dogs alone. Unlike people, they’ve never been anything but warm and loving to main character, and on one of his stops to gather canned goods, he comes across and adopts a friendly black Lab. Possible names: Shadow or Smokey.

Midway through story, main character encounters a group of flesh-hungry mutants whom he must wage war with until he finally succeeds in destroying them all. Unfortunately, battling deadly mutants on a daily basis has not only desensitized him to the act of killing, but encouraged it. Therefore, in the final chapter, when main character meets another band of survivors who are just regular people striving to rebuild society, he slaughters them without hesitation.

But it’s not his fault. Not really. Living in a world ravaged by the Space Plague and murderous mutants (who devoured Smokey, by the way) is what made him like this. Not to mention, he’s always suffered more than his fair share of humiliations and difficulties, including a childhood that wasn’t the greatest. But mostly it was all those people — seemingly everyone he ever met — determined to make his life just a little bit worse than it already was, if that’s even possible.

The point is, at novel’s end main character is still the hero, the good guy, and he gets to live the remainder of his years in uninterrupted peace, completely alone. (Make sure to emphasize, in case some readers haven’t figured it out yet, that it’s the good kind of alone.)


Things Are Looking Up

By: Ralph Gamelli

First, I’d like to thank everyone who has sent me good wishes during my lengthy recuperation. No one could have predicted the unlikely series of accidents and illnesses that led to so much physical difficulty on my part. Fortunately, even though I’ve still got a long way to go, things are beginning to look up. For example:

I can now wiggle my toes with no problem. Stopping them is another matter.

As of last week, I can turn my head to the left without it resulting in a gushing nose bleed. No luck turning to the right yet, but the doctors are optimistic.

The muscular spasms have almost completely subsided. If you come to visit, your chances of getting elbowed in the face have never been lower.

Opposable thumbs. Never thought I’d be able to say that again.

I have absolutely no memory of anything that happened to me before my thirty-fourth birthday. Luckily, everyone insists there isn’t much to remember.

I’m once again able to use my left buttock while sitting. Thank you to the anonymous donor.

The drooling has reached acceptable levels.

I can blink in unison again, as long as I limit myself to no more than one blink per minute.

The pain in my limbs is mysteriously lessened by a good fifty percent whenever I hear someone speak in French. As soon as they stop, however, the pain comes back full-force and is accompanied by dizziness, stomach cramps, and itchy back.

Good news: my eyebrows have grown back. Bad news: both of them are stacked over one eye.

The nightmarish prophetic visions have stopped. Now, whenever I touch someone, I only see a rerun of Gilligan’s Island.

I was having a bit of a midlife crisis before all this started. What’s the meaning of life? Why am I here? What’s the point of it all? I don’t ponder philosophical matters like that anymore. Instead, I prefer to focus all my mental energy on staying conscious.

I’m able to stand for several minutes at a time now, unless someone taller than me enters the room, at which point I collapse in a heap. Might be psychosomatic.

They managed to sew one nipple back on. They’re still looking for the other.

I begin to sweat profusely the moment the temperature hits seventy. Conversely, I get severe chills the instant it dips below sixty-five. Otherwise, I’m good.

That headache I had where it felt like someone was pounding an anvil with a sledgehammer? Turns out there was actually someone outside my window hitting an anvil with a sledgehammer.

That about covers it for now. As you can see, I’ve made some real progress. Unfortunately, it seems that it may soon be necessary to transplant my brain into the body of a gorilla. They tell me this is just one more step on the road to complete recovery, but I admit that I can only view this as something of a setback, as I’m not particularly fond of bananas.


My Imaginary Love Life Reviewed

By: Ralph Gamelli

Amy Pasternak: A fellow fifth-grader, and my first case of puppy love. At recess, in an effort to show my interest, I whipped a snowball at the back of her head. This was repeated for several days with no luck. If not for my inability to express myself in a more socially acceptable manner — perhaps by sharing some gum with her or by showing off on the monkey bars — she might have been my first kiss.

Julie Gibbs: Our lockers were side-by-side all through high school. I couldn’t count how many times we exchanged pleasantries such as “Hey” and “Long day, huh?” and “Have a good weekend.” If I’d had the nerve to take it to the next level, I’m guessing the two of us could have become as close as our lockers. High school sweethearts. Saturday nights at the movies. Junior and senior prom. The whole deal. And then an amicable split as we go off to separate colleges. Not one of the guys she met there could compare to me, though.

Linda: I don’t remember if I ever got her last name, and in fact I’m not really sure about the first. It could have been Lisa (we only met once during a dorm party and the music was really loud). She was more than a little tipsy and clearly willing to go upstairs with me even though I was tripping over every other word and sweating like a marathon runner. Would have been my first one-night stand if I hadn’t gone to get her another drink, then slipped out the back door in fear.

Maggie (as read off her name tag): She used to be the cashier at my grocery store. I always made it a point to go to her register, even when the line was longer than others. Despite eating a lot healthier during her two years and four months on the job, I apparently failed to impress her with my dietary selections. I would have said something chatty after answering her usual query about paper or plastic, but I was uncomfortable making my move with the bagboy standing right there. We’d have ended up going out for a while and having some fun. I was still in my twenties in those days, though, and not looking for anything too serious. Possibly an ugly breakup.

Charlotte LePlante: A co-worker for a number of years who once made a favorable remark about my shirt. Had I returned the compliment instead of blushing and hurrying back to my cubicle, one thing would have led to another and inevitably drawn us into an illicit affair. Probably best it never happened, since I saw her husband at the office picnic every year and no doubt would have felt guilty about the whole thing. Then again, Charlotte had great legs. No. Better if it didn’t happen.

Kathy McTeague: She lived in my apartment building for years. We ran into each other countless times and had many brief yet exciting conversations regarding the weather. There was even that one time she held the elevator for me. I got to know her schedule well by keeping a careful eye on the parking lot, and of course you can always tell a lot about a person by the kind of trash they leave in the Dumpster behind the building. For six long years we lived under the same roof, playing house, but in the end she left me. I didn’t even know she was gone until I saw the Kowalskis moving in several days later. Love can be a cruel game.

Some woman on the sidewalk: She was wearing a really tight pair of jeans, and when I stopped for the red light, I could have sworn she glanced over at me for a second longer than necessary. I should have smiled or honked the horn or something. We might be married by now.


Reviews of The Smile, Starring Edward James Olmos

By: Ralph Gamelli

“That tiresome Hollywood cliche, the Gypsy curse, has been infused with vigorous new life in this thriller about a curt, somber-faced Head Chef who must suddenly go through life with a broad smile etched on his face. Much of the film’s success is due to the bold casting of Edward James Olmos. Mr. Olmos has played curt, somber-faced police lieutenants, curt, somber-faced teachers, curt, somber-faced fathers, curt, somber-faced spaceship commanders and many other types of curt, somber-faced authority figures in his lengthy, acclaimed career — yet here he displays an amazing new depth of character and range of emotion. He smiles, by God! And viewers will find themselves smiling back.”

— Entertainment Weekly

“A startling combination of low concept and high concept. Low concept — a dour Head Chef prepares an undercooked entree for an old Gypsy woman who then exacts her revenge through a curse. High concept — Edward James Olmos flashes his pearly whites for two solid hours. Both prospects are risky, but what could have been a train wreck instead turns out to be a masterpiece. Miami Vice might still be on the air if Olmos had smiled like this back in the 80s.”

— USA Today

“Had Robin Williams or Jim Carrey starred in The Smile, it would have fizzled, but Edward James Olmos adds a real-world poignancy. I mean, has this guy ever smiled in front of a camera before? Even in real life, he’s hesitant to do more than smirk. It’s just not his thing. And that’s why this film is so transcendent. We feel this character’s pain when he must go around constantly smiling at people, and we also feel Olmos’ pain. I hope he was well-paid.”

— Boston Globe

“Remember the old series Fantasy Island? Every week Ricardo Montalban would survey his employees and say, ‘Smiles, everyone! Smiles!’ Had Edward James Olmos been one of them, he wouldn’t have smiled. He would have just scowled even more fiercely than before, given the man in white a glare that could kill, mumbled something nearly unintelligible, and then walked slowly away. Well, that was the old Edward James Olmos. The new one knows how to loosen up, and because of that he has a hit movie on his hands. Smile, Edward James Olmos! Smile!”

— Rolling Stone

“For the first half hour of The Smile, I was certain that the unnatural-looking expression on infamous sourpuss Edward James Olmos’ face could only be generated through computer special effects. During the next thirty minutes, however, I gradually became a believer in the impossible. And for the last hour of this magnificent achievement in film, I gladly surrendered to the charm of Olmos’ infectious smile. I’d like to see this as merely part one of a trilogy. Next up, The Chuckle followed by The Belly Laugh. I think you’re up to the challenge, Mr. Olmos. And I expect to see you and that smile of yours on Oscar night. Just try not to mumble during your victory speech.”

— New York Times

“Who would have guessed? Edward James Olmos has teeth!”

— The Hollywood Reporter