Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

Overall Rating: Worth paying full price if you're rich, matinee if you're low on funds

Starring: Will Farrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal

Note: For those of you who haven't seen this movie yet and don't want the ending spoiled, you should probably stop reading here. Go see the movie though, it's worth it.

The basic plot of the movie is this: An IRS auditor named Harold Crick (Will Farrell) who leads a boring, mundane life suddenly starts to hear his life narrated by Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson), a famous author, who most unfortunately for Harold Crick, is in the habit of killing off her main characters. After he learns of his impending death, he seeks professional counsel from a literary expert named Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman). Jules encourages Harold to find out if his life is a comedy or a tragedy by seeking out a relationship with Ana (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a woman Harold is auditing. He and Ana begin to fall in love and Harold is inclined to believe he is in the middle of a comedy. It is then that Eiffel finally breaks through her writer's block and figures out how to kill Harold. Before it is typed and set in stone however, Harold tracks her down and gets to read the ending of his life before it actually happens. It turns out that he will die saving the life of a little boy who finds himself in the path of a bus. Harold, the altruistic hero, gives himself a death sentence by telling Eiffel to go ahead and type it. All goes as planned. Harold is hit by the bus while saving the boy, but before Eiffel can actually pronounce his death, she chickens out. She instead lets him live with massive injuries. At the end of the movie, Jules and Karen discuss the new ending to the book. They both know that the literature is only mediocre with the new ending, and that the book would have been much more powerful had Harold been killed. Karen says that she couldn't have killed off someone so good, since the world needs as many good people as it can get.

First, I want to say that I really loved this movie. I loved the director's (Marc Forster) style and both Thompson and Farrel did a wonderful job acting. I was shocked to find that Will Farrell can indeed act, since he is usually too over the top for my taste. The movie was both witty and inventive. Unfortunately, it is the ending that usually makes or breaks the movie or book for me. I feel a little bit better about the "all-is-well, perfect ending" since they did admit it would have been a better, more powerful story if Harold had died. Still, I feel the ending was bit of a cop out. Our society is too afraid of sad endings. Some of the best movies I have ever seen (Hero, Million Dollar Baby) have less-than-happy-endings, and I don't think that Hollywood should be afraid to embrace the fact that sometimes the story is just better when the ending isn't Disney-ified (no offense to Disney). The movie was definitely still worth watching though and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet seen it.


Ben said...

I stopped reading because I haven't seen it but I hope you said it was good.

heidikins said...

Haven't seen it yet - but thank you for telling me the ending. If it had a sad, even morbid ending I would have much preferred it. I am with you on the Disney-ified drivel that is a poor excuse for "happily ever after." Take Cinderella for example: who wants to live in a stuffy, freezing castle with a emotionally unstable husband whose family has been inbred for centuries to maintain his "royal" blood.... ick! Take the glass shoes, sell them on ebay, and get on the next plane (or, in her case - diary cart) out of there!