Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

What an interesting disappointment Stranger than Fiction was. Yet, the premise is just golden: a guy starts hearing a voice that seemingly narrates his life. Is his life a fiction - is he Neo from The Matrix, essentially - or is he real? Sounds like a lot of fun.

The first half hour IS fun, but then it gets lost in a plot device that would probably only work in a novel - if even there. (More on that in the spoilers section, below.)

There's even a neato special effect that depicts Harold Crick's (Will Ferrell) obsessive compulsive mental mechanics as he's thinking or working - sorta like John Nash's (Russell Crowe) visualizations in A Beautiful Mind. I loved it when it first popped up, because it's not explained, but becomes apparent later. To me, it was a quality gag, and usually such things only appear in movies that have been lovingly thought out.



Y'see, first Crick goes to see a psychologist, which is appropriate, but she tells him he's schizophrenic. He doesn't accept that and goes to see - get this - a Professor of Literature! See, he's being talked about as though he's the character of a story, so naturally he'd go see an expert on the same.

But what an asinine development!

Well, maybe it would have worked had it been done in a playful manner - say have the prof. be half nuts or so distracted s/he would give advice without really taking it seriously, or didn't take is seriously at all, but gave advice as sort of a lark. But no, we have an arrogant prof. who claims to know every story ever written, and yes he can help.

Look, nothing against profs. - if I had the brains, I would probably have gone in that direction. However; I am - at best and forever - a solid "B" student. Real profs. would have me for lunch, daily, had I attempted that career course.

But I think even if I were, I'd find this movie embarrassing.

Believe it or not, the next direction it takes is they embark on a voyage to discover if Crick is in a comedy or a tragedy, based on the events that occur during his day. Why this matters, we don't know.

It comes out that the woman writing his life kills every one of her characters at the end; it's like her big thing. Crick actually finds her and after they talk, she takes the novel to the prof., who's a big fan, natch. After the prof. reads it, he tells Crick that he needs to die because "it's her best one yet."

Fer crying out loud.

THEN Crick reads it and AGREES!

Fer fuck's sake, anyway.

Who would EVER think this is plausible?

Judas on a vespa.

**** SPOILERS END ****

All the best jokes are in the trailer, too.

Short version: the Joe Jackson song is still the best offering amongst the various media that bears the same title.

It's deeper, too.

Maybe someone, say Adam Sandler who has a deft touch with this kind of stuff, will remake it as a truly funny movie in the near future. One can hope. The premise is just too good to waste.


Whisky Prajer said...

Alright, here's my own SPOILER ALERT for them what hasn't yet seen STF. I kinda hear what you're saying, and yet I still found it a moving movie. Howso? Brace yourself: so far as I was concerned, the movie had emotional cache when I thought of it as a metaphor for the Trinity. I assume there was/is some level of free will at play in the Passion Narrative, and Christ (while *hardly* the gormless Everyman played by Ferrell) wasn't particularly thrilled with storyline as it was revealed to him. There seems to be some play between Father and Son, yet he finally submits to the Father, etc. And if Jesus is indicative of God's response to human frailty, a God who weeps beside the graves of his creation is quite natural, even if he is also the author of creation.

ANYWAY, it doesn't take long for the metaphor to break under all the strain, but still and all, I was dabbing at my eyes by movie's end.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting read on the film that I didn't have at the time. Still, by the time I got to the end, my disbelief was so unsuspended, I'm not sure if even that view would've saved it for me.

However, I have been able to suspend it for preposterous films, like "Brainstorm," so maybe it was just the moment in which I watched it. Harry Knowles of "http://www.aintitcool.com/" always describes the mood (and sometimes even the dinner beforehand) he's in when he reviews because he says it plays into his review - frames it and gives you a hint whether or not you should take him at his word. I've always liked that conceit, and it may be true.