Saturday, June 30, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

So there's this guy named Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). He works for the IRS and doesn't care for his job, though he has no life outside it. He starts hearing a voiceover that narrates his life. Eventually he realizes that the story the voice is telling will end with his death. He doesn't want to die, mainly because he's met free spirited Maggie Gyllenhaal, who's falling in love with him. You wouldn't want to die, either. So what to do? Consult an English teacher (Dustin Hoffman), that's what.

I'm not sure if this movie is a fantasy, magic realism, or what, but I liked it quite a bit. It raises some interesting questions about the relationship of life to art, and it makes you wonder a little bit about an author's responsibility to her characters. And about a character's responsibility, too. Should he be willing to die to make the ending poetic and "right"? Should the author be willing to accept an "okay" ending that's a bit happier than the one that seems fitting? And what about the reader? This is the kind of movie that'll make you think about these things. It's also funny, always a plus in my book.

Will Ferrell gives a restrained performance (I never thought I'd write that sentence), and the rest of the cast (including Emma Thompson as the author) is fine. Dustin Hoffman gets in a few good self-referential lines (think Rainman), and I couldn't help feeling that 30 years ago, he'd have been playing the Will Ferrell role. He'd have been very good in it. Check it out.

6 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

We liked it too. Showed he doesn't have to do frat boy humor forever. And you're so right about Dustin Hoffman. He would have been great in the role. I'd like to see him one more starring role.

Bill Crider said...

Hoffman's a fine character actor, but I'm with you. He could still star in the right part.

Writeprocrastinator said...

This is a very good film, but for aspiring authors such as myself, this is a great film.

I think Zach Helm did a spectacular job redefining the relationship between creator and character. It's even better than "The Purple Rose of Cairo."

Bill Crider said...

I really like The Purple Rose, and while I'm not sure I like this movie quite that well, it's close.

Todd Mason said...

Even with PAN'S LABYRINTH, AKEELAH AND THE BEE, VOLVER, and a plot bobble or two, STRANGER was my favorite film of its year. And I liked those other three a Whole Lot. Liked this one better than PURPLE ROSE, though I like that better than most Allen films.

Bill Crider said...

I like a lot of Allen's movies, but that one might be my favorite.