STRANGER THAN FICTION (2006)

TMG Scale 7.0
Staring Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Stranger than Fiction?  Maybe just,  strange movie. TMG rarely finds himself at a loss to explain or analyze a movie, but this one is a challenge.   I might not have rated this film quite so high, but I respect any screenwriter and director that try to really push the envelope, go out on a limb, go where no man has gone before….so to speak.

Will Ferrell plays sort of a man/boy character named Harold Crick. He’s an odd duck of sorts.  He’s a middle aged guy, never married, anal as heck nerd, and IRS agent.  By the odd standards of today, he’s probably a real chick magnet. He lives his life by numbers.  Suddenly he realizes his life is being narrated as if in a book. He is doing and living exactly as the writer has scripted. Is he schizophrenic or living a life in some cross dimension? Or as I started to think, sort of being orchestrated and controlled much like Jim Carey in The Truman Show (1998) ?

He seeks guidance from a literature professor Jules Hilbert , played by Hoffman.  The theory being Hilbert can distill what story of life he is being written into and perhaps figure it all out.  We are virtually in the outer limits here and some quality weed had to be involved in crafting the script concept here.

While he is trying to fugure out his future, he meets Ana Pascall (Gyllenhaal)  on an IRS audit of her bakery.  Other parallel events unfold that magically intersect at the end of the movie.  We also follow the life of the actual writer Karen Eiffel (Thompson) and her publisher assistant Penny Escher (Latifah). Eiffel is an interesting and neurotic suspense novel writer—probably redundant terms.  When Crick and Eiffel finally meet, fiction and the real world collide head on. Eiffel realizes she can control the outcome of Crick’s life but all her leading men eventually die.

The real gem here is that this film allowed Ferrell to play a halfway  serious and dramatic role.  Don’t get me wrong, the goofball Ferrell comes through and the film largely is a comedy.  But it gives a glimps of how good Ferrlel might be at a dramatic role playing a serial killer or similar.  Jim Carey breached that line in The Cable Guy (1996) and then really showed his talent in The Magestic (2001). Ferrel might be able to do the same.

I would not recommend this DVD to everyone.  It will appeal more to writers and real intellectuals who like The Matrix, Inception and Tron and really enjoyed The Truman Show. It is a bit too contrived and over the rainbow for me, but the concept was intriguing and I enjoyed it. It is indeed, stranger than fiction.

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