27 May, 2007

Last night I watched “Stranger than Fiction” with Will Farrell. One of the best movies I have seen in the last year. So amazing. It was so much better than I expected. Now, I should probably preface this statement by saying I am not a Will Farrell fan. Not at all. I saw “Anchorman” and thought the only movie that might be more ridiculous and lame is “Zoolander” (maybe). I don’t think it’s funny to use sex to get people to laugh, I don’t appreciate how degraded woman are in his movies, and I think if you are a true comedian you don’t have to revert to body functions, drinking, or sex to get a laugh. I am waiting anxiously for the day that Will Farrell is no longer considered funny, or turns to move intelligent comedy because he actually can pull it off.

That being said, I heard “Stranger than Fiction” was not like every other WF movie so I decide to watch it. It was obvious from the first three minutes this was not your stereotypical WF movie, that someone with a brain had written the script, and that something emotional was going to happen.

The premise of the movie is you have Harold Crick (WF) who is going through life without living in. He is going through the motions. He has a job he hates (he’s an IRS agent, he lives alone, he has one friend, and his life is just repetition. His life in controlled by numbers, of which is he is a wee bit obsessive compulsive. (And how they show how he thinks in the movie is ingenious.) One day Mr. Crick wakes up, hearing a voice narrating his entire life. It narrates what he is doing, what he thinks, and while this soothing British accent is seemingly just bothersome at first, things take a turn when the voice announces that, “Little did he [Mr. Crick] know that this simple seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death.”

The true heart of this story is not only the transformation to Mr. Crick who begins to live his life (in a semi-Christmas Carol way) but also his progression to finding out who the narrator is.

The story is made up of an endearing supporting cast who carry the movie through some of WF less than well-achieved scenes. Dustin Hoffman stars as literature specialist Dr. Jules Hilbert who helps Crick determine if he is living in a comedy or a tragedy, and therefore what his outcome will be (life or death). Emma Thompson plays novelist Kay Eiffel, who we later find is the voice in Crick’s head. Queen Latifah plays Ms. Eiffel’s assistant, who was sent by the publisher to help Ms. Eifflel finish her book aka: figure out how to kill Howard Crick. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Crick’s love interest – a baker he was sent to audit. Through out this endearing and hilarious movie (most of the comedy does not come from WF) the supporting cast creates a world the viewer is thankful to be part of, leading us to an ending we are unsure about even after it happens!

Rent this movie and be prepared to be impressed… I was.

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© Amanda Lunday