Wednesday, December 16, 2009

“Stranger than Fiction”

Let me first say that I like Will Ferrell. You might even consider me a fan. “Blades of Glory,” great. “Talladega Nights,” terrific. “Elf,” a delight. But “Stranger than Fiction,” just okay. The difference? As Howard Crick, the main character in “Stranger than Fiction,” Ferrell’s essentially playing himself. And sorry, but he’s not that interesting an actor. It makes me wonder if he can carry a movie when not in character or doing broad comedy. If you don’t agree, rent “Melinda, Melinda.” It’s painful to watch Ferrell do his Woody Allen impersonation. Or look at the dismal box office for “Land of the Lost.” The other thing about “Stranger than Fiction” is that I liked the idea more than the movie itself. It's a pretty standard story about "living like you were dying" but with a high concept twist. I can just imagine the pitch: “The main character realizes he’s the character in the book, a la ‘The Truman Show.’” And “Stranger” tries to get all metaphysical like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Being John Malkovich” but lacks their wit, charm and inventiveness. So while watching "Stranger" I couldn’t keep from thinking about those other movies and wondering how much better this one could have been. Which earned it this tweet: Stranger than Fiction-This Spike Jonze/Charlie Kaufman-esque movie suffers from not being attached to Spike Jonze or Charlie Kaufman. 6.5 (out of 10)

“Stranger than Fiction”

Released: 2006

Rating: PG-13

Length: 113 minutes

Cast: Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman

Director: Marc Forster

Genre(s): Comedy, Fantasy

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