Thursday, November 30, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction is... strange.

And not in a good way.

This film's premise just doesn't make sense. I knew that going into it, but I saw it anyway, thinking perhaps the sense would become clear during the film itself. But alas. It just doesn't make sense for a writer to realize that one of her characters just happens to be a real person inhabiting the same world she does. With that premise, any sense of logic - even the film's own sense of internal logic - had no option but to fly out the window.

When Emma Thompson's character, Kay Eiffel, finally meets Will Ferrell's character, Harold Crick (that's not a spoiler, you knew it would happen), it's meant to be this awkward, climatic and emotional moment that makes you feel all these things, but as much as I wanted to FEEL, all I kept thinking was "This is so f***ing ridiculous, what is even happening right now? This is impossible. So is this meeting between them part of her book, too?" etc.

The film just never establishes its own sense of internal logic in terms of what is allowed to happen and why; it just hopes you'll play along, regardless. Contrast this with, say, Being John Malkovich, which had the balls and creative audacity to flesh out a whole mythos around "vessels" and "Malkovich's seed" and whatnot, and even let us see what happens when Malkovich "entered his own portal" (BRILLIANTly), and Stranger Than Fiction starts to seem awfully amateurish in comparison. Other "literary" films Adaptation and The Hours and "people in a bubble" films Truman Show and Malkovich have all done this stuff better before... plus Fiction is overly precious and sentimental, and doesn't exhibit half the wit, pathos or workplace know-how of REAL Charlie Kaufman films.

That said, it was still relatively entertaining. The cast is aces, especially Emma Thompson as the very blocked and very British writer. Maggie G is also great, as usual, as Ferrell's rebellious nemesis-turned-love-interest. And Dustin Hoffman should have a part in every movie I see, thanks. Ferrell himself is also good in the leading role, though I got the impression he was trying a bit too hard to shed his "crazy antics" persona and go all dramatic and deadpan ("look guys, I can be as serious as Jim Carrey!"). Queen Latifah is unfortunately wasted in a throwaway role that basically exists only so Kay Eiffel has someone to talk to... but at least Latifah gives the role what life she can.

Anyway... I think this review was a bit harsh. This wasn't really a BAD movie. It was just terribly average while trying so hard to be so much more. Still, despite its flaws and annoyingly fluffy nature, the film boasts a sharp cast and generally funny script that make it almost recommendable as the trifle it is.

Verdict: "The premise is stupid. But the movie's kinda fun."


Blogger Kamikaze Camel said...

I know what you mean. Sometimes there's movies that don't necessarily have bad stuff in them, it's just they don't have enough really good stuff. I'm leaning that way towards a few movies this year, namely The Departed and Thank You For Smoking.

Like, when people ask me about them I say "yeah, it's good" because they are, but there's just not enough to make me go "Yeah, definitely! Go see it" ya know?

yeah... and I haven't seen Stranger than Fiction yet, so...

7:08 AM  
Blogger adam k. said...

Well, I wouldn't say Stranger Than Fiction is even in that league... if people asked me what I thought of it, I'd be like "yeah, it's OK"... I'd only tell them to see it if they like that kinf of thing.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd give it a C+ too, but it's been souring in my mind over the last few weeks. The fact that I can remember so little of it should say something about its value (or lack thereof.)

I loved Maggie G. in this though; as I said on Nick M.'s blog, that monologue about the cookies was absolutely horrible, but her performance made me believe it completely without reservation. She's amazing.

8:15 PM  
Blogger adam k. said...

Haha. I don't remember thinking that monologue was THAT bad... probably because she sold it so well.

Maggie is such an anomaly in the movie star world. She slouches, comes off as really punky and "above it" all the time, and kind of annoys me in a lot of ways, and yet it's impossible to deny that she's a really brilliant actress in almost everything she does.

Suffice it to say, she has a unique gift.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Kamikaze Camel said...

I heart Maggie. In Happy Endings she was just... *sigh*

8:24 AM  

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