Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

I went to see this movie in a theatre which means I paid full price for it, on the night it opened. (Yes I waited a month and a half to tell you about it. I've been busy.) I went with my kids, my writer friend, and her daughter.

We all loved it.

Being a frustrated novellist I was of course drawn to the concept of a guy whose life is being narrated in his head. I was curious to see how this would all play out. I think it worked although many of the real critics disagree!

Don't go into this movie with an analytical mind, or you will have unanswerable questions. Just accept that one morning while brushing his teeth, IRS agent Harold Crick (Played brilliantly by Will Ferrell) hears an elegant British female voice in his head.

This unwelcome voice is providing a running commentary on his every action and thought. Worse, the voice includes disturbing things like, "Little did Harold know that soon he'd be dead."

The voice belongs to writer Karen Eiffel (the always excellent Emma Thompson) and she's stuck. She's under pressure to get this novel finished but she's struggling to find a way to off her main character, Harold Crick. She has to kill him off; it's what she does. "Death and Taxes" is due but Karen is still creating death scenarios that don't work while her new assistant (Queen Latifah) stands by unrelentingly, under orders from the publisher.

Karen Eiffel is a mess. She is exactly what we want to see when we think of Author Plagued With Writer's Block!

(Again, don't try to pick through the details for any kind of verisimilitude. Just go with it.)

Desperate, Harold visits a Literature professor, seeking help to find out whose voice it is.
Keep your eye on how many cups of coffee Dustin Hoffman's professor goes through.

Harold may think the voice is driving him crazy but that's nothing.... he goes really crazy when he makes an appointment with a bakery owner to discuss the payment of her taxes. She's like nobody Harold's ever met before, and whaddaya know...turns out she's in the novel too. After she's done yelling at him, she seems to like him, much to her dismay.

This whole thing about Harold's impending doom will not make this romance easy. The rebellious punker baker herself (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who made me love her) isn't going to make it easy either.

Meanwhile, watch out for the young woman job hunting and the kid on the bike. Pay attention.

If you're expecting the typical Will Ferrell schtick, you will be disappointed because this isn't it.

I'm going to come right out and say it, okay? WILL FERRELL MOVED ME TO TEARS.

He did not get naked or semi naked other than the -wait for it- love scene. Yes, Will Ferrell love scene, and it didn't make me gag or snicker. I know. Shocking.

He did not take on a silly accent. There is only one burst of physical exertion. He managed to pull off the difficult task of bringing a basically boring guy to life and making us care about him. Yes, Harold Crick is regimented and rather dull. You didn't expect anything else from an IRS agent did you? C'mon...

Scenes to watch out for:

-Ana gives Harold his first taste of homemade cookies. Harold is blissful but of course promptly screws it up.

-The professor interrogates Harold. "Are you the king of anything?"

-You know what? Any scene with Karen Eiffel. She's that good.

-Harold getting ready for work on the day of his doom.

Here's Harold teaching himself how to play guitar. Why the heck not? He's gonna die any day now, he might as well live a little.
This movie made me laugh and cry.

Final note- "How many people have I killed?" I think that's something any aspiring writer needs to keep track of!

I'm giving it Four Tractors and a Snowblower!

1 comment:

millie said...

i was also shocked by a will ferrell love scene. it was so nice to see him out of his element, his comic shadow. i too ADORE emma thompson. i'll follow her anywhere!