Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Stranger Than Fiction

(This post originally appeared in slightly different form on June 27, 2007.)

When comedians make serious movies, sometimes it works (most of Bill Murray’s efforts along those lines) and sometimes it doesn’t (most of Jim Carrey’s). In STRANGER THAN FICTION, Will Ferrell tries on a more serious role and succeeds pretty well. He plays IRS agent Harold Krick, whose life is suddenly disrupted by a voice-over narration that only he can hear, coming from some woman with a British accent. Eventually Harold discovers that he’s a character in a novel being written by an author (played by Emma Thompson) who’s struggling with writer’s block. But is he only a character on a page, or does he really exist? That’s the question on which most of the movie turns.

While most of the humor in this film is of the whimsical variety, there are a couple of laugh out loud moments, too, and they’re achieved without Ferrell having to run around naked as he does in most of his other movies. One of the questions plaguing Ferrell’s character is whether the novel about him will turn out to be a tragedy or a comedy, and the same question hangs over this movie until the end. The script is well-written and includes some interesting observations about the nature of fiction; the cast, which includes Dustin Hoffman as an English professor, is good all around; the minimalist sets fit right in with the characters and story; and the music, which is in the same vein most of the time, works well. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, more than I expected to, really. Well worth a look.


Todd Mason said...

Though what this film struck me as most akin to was a Jim Carrey film, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. I think I liked it even more than you did, even given the niggling inconsistency of the storyline. But I'm a sucker for most of the cast, and willing to give Ferrell or Hoffman a shot, usually.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This is about the only Will Ferrell movie I like. Yes, a good cast helps.

Anonymous said...

Yes, ditto. I like Ferrell only in very small doses as a general rule but I liked this one a lot. Emma THompson and Dustin Hoffman worked together again in LAST CHANCE HARVEY.

Jeff M.