by RISHI AGRAWAL
Stranger than Fiction is far from a perfect movie. I remember my initial impression of the film was that Zach Helm’s screenplay seemed like watered-down Charlie Kaufman (writer of films like Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). However, director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) is no hack, and he has made a very good, accessible film based on a fantastical premise.
The film centers on IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) who discovers a voice in his head narrating his life. Eventually, with the help of a literature professor (Dustin Hoffman), he realizes that he is part of an unfinished manuscript by writer Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson). Things also become complicated when he falls for one of the women he is supposed to be auditing (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
Once you get past the premise, the film is generally realistic. Plus, the aspects of romantic comedy are much more palatable than the sense of dread that pervades many surrealistic films. Sure, Stranger than Fiction is not going to reach the heights that you can expect from a film by David Lynch or Spike Jonze, but this is still an enjoyable film without too much extra weirdness. This is the sort of film you can recommend to your parents (assuming you’re not lucky enough to have hip parents), and while they might think it’s odd, they can still get wrapped up in the story. Besides, how often are you going to get to see Will Ferrell in a semi-serious role?
The film is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, and contains extended and deleted scenes. There are also a slew of featurettes.
Other new releases this week: A Good Year, The Return, Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny