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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Stranger than Fiction Review.

Stranger than Fiction, a movie that I employ any writer of fiction to watch.

Most of Will Ferrell's comedies are absurd and often crude, in Strange than Fiction however, Ferrell plays a more serious and dramatic role, yet the film is still very funny and is usually not crude. The plot is difficult to explain without spoiling the story, but it is kind of a story within a story, however, the movie has one of the most unique and original narratives I have seen in a film in a long time. While I cannot write fiction to save my life, basically all of my friends are aspiring writers; therefore, I believe anyone who writes fiction should consider watching Stranger than Fiction. It is far from perfect, but it is about things writers would probably enjoy seeing.

Directed by: Marc Forster
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Drama
Release Date: November 10, 2006
Running Time: 113 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Best Will Ferrell performance, Witty and occasionally twisted sense of humor, Unique narrative and concept, Excellent performances across the board, Completely original, Fantastic chemistry between Ferrell and Gyllenhaal, Good presentation,

The Bad: Weaker 3rd Act,

Note: I did not include the trailer because it spoiled 75% of the film, do not watch the trailer and just watch the movie.

Plot: The following plot summary is copied from Wikipedia.com.
Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, living his entire life based on the timing of his wristwatch. He is given the job to audit an intentionally tax-delinquent baker, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to whom he is awkwardly attracted. On the same day, he begins hearing the voice of a woman that is omnisciently narrating the events in his life, but he is unable to communicate with the voice. On his way home, Harold's watch stops working and he resets it using the time given by a bystander; the voice narrates "little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death". Worried over this prediction, Harold turns to a psychiatrist (Linda Hunt) who attributes the voice to schizophrenia; though they also consider that if it is not schizophrenia and there really is a narrator, he should then visit an expert in literature. Crick visits Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), a university literature professor, and relates his story. Jules first comes to the same conclusion as the psychiatrist, as Harold's dull life is not something commonly seen in novels. However, Jules then recognizes aspects of a literary work in Harold's story ("little did he know"), and encourages him to help identify the author, first by determining if the work is a comedy or a tragedy.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.

Plot: 8.5/10- Strange than Fiction is many things, part fantasy comedy, part romantic comedy, part dramedy (comedy/drama), and it turns out mostly entertaining. As stated above, the narrative is wholly unique and original. I am sure that other films have tried something similar, but I have not seen one that executed it this well in American film. While the pacing was a tad slow, it never felt boring. For a comedy, the plot was excellent. It is not nearly as funny as other comedies, but it is a far smarter film than most. Near the end there are some things that felt kind of dumb and it let out the humor a little too much in the Third Act of the film. The creators could have weaved the jokes into the final Act without sacrificing the story. Romantic comedies are not my type of film usually, Stranger than Fiction however, weaved the romance into the plot without compromising the story and staying away from the clich├ęd and sappy romance angle.

Acting: 8.7/10- In terms of his performance, Will Ferrell has never been better. He played the more serious and dramatic role very well. Maggie Gyllenhaal was the most annoying character in The Dark Knight and since then I have not been a big fan of her acting, however she was magnificent in Stranger than Fiction. Gyllenhaal's character was likeable and she had excellent chemistry with Ferrell, which made the romance scenes much better. Emma Thompson was decent for the most part, her performance neither impressed nor felt lacking, and Dustin Hoffman gave a quite humorous performance. Most of the other minor actors where solid.

Soundtrack: 6.2/10- Most of the score was standard dramedy fair, however the licensed music was surprising good. "Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric was used perfectly, one of the better uses of a song in a film.

Comedy: 7.9/10- Now this is where it gets kind of difficult to rate because the comedy that was in the film was often very funny in a witty sort of way. But the final act was not particularly funny and not nearly as hilarious as the previous first two acts. Really, the only weak aspect of the humor is the lack of humor in the Third Act, and if the Third Act was a little stronger in terms of plot, the lack of humor would not have been as noticeable.
Humor Percentage
Hilarious: 60%
Mildly Funny: 32%
Not Funny: 8%

Overall: 7.9/10- Overall, Stranger than Fiction has an excellent mix of humor and unique narrative that results in a strong film that is memorable and fun.

Overall Stranger than Fiction has a good mix of humor and unique narrative, despite being a little uneven in terms of humor and the result is an entertaining film.

Closing comments: Stranger than Fiction is an odd film that some will love and others not so much, but I cannot deny that the film is creative and original.

Recommended for: Writers, Will Ferrell fans, Comedy fans, Fantasy fans, Drama fans,

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12 comments:

  1. Stranger Than Fiction has been one of my favorites for years now. It is one of Will Ferrell's FEW that I actually like.

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    1. In terms of quality and performance, I agree this is Will Ferrell's best work, and one of his few semi-serious movies.

      -James

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  2. I remember watching this movie several years ago when I was at my grandparents house(my sister, cousin, and I were getting several movies to watch and this was one of the ones we got). I also thought it was pretty good- at the time, I didn't like romance, but now I'd probably view it differently(since I was around 12 at the time). I remember liking the idea of the story, with how the author was writing the story of his life and how it was all narrated. Basically, it was one of the few Will Ferrell comedies I have liked.
    :)

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    Replies
    1. If you watch it again now, I think you would enjoy it more. :) I really did not expect that twist though. It was setup really well!

      -James

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  3. Nice review, James. I too enjoyed this movie.

    I would recommend Everything Must Go, another movie with a serious performance by Will Ferrell.

    B2B.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I have heard of Everything Must Go, but have not seen it yet. I will have to look into that.

      -James

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  4. I really want to see this movie now! I will find it amusing to see Will Ferrell in a more serious role, that will be a good change. :D

    ~Jamie

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    Replies
    1. You will most likely enjoy the movie Jamie! :D

      -James

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  5. I was surprised how much I liked this movie. I do really like Emma Thompson, so I agreed to see it with a friend because of her, and I ended up really liking the whole movie. As a writer, I really related to a lot of Emma Thompson's deliberations, and I loved the ending so much.

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    1. Me too! I am glad that you have confirmed my theory that writers would likely enjoy the movie. While I was not a big fan of 3rd Act, the actually was definitely great!

      -James

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  6. never heard of it will have to give it a try

    ReplyDelete

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