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Stranger Than Fiction

A comedy movie directed by Marc Forster

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Beautiful concept but slightly disappointing by the execution.

  • Apr 30, 2007
  • by
If there is one thing I've learned about authors who write fiction, it's that believable characters can really make a story work. This is often achieved by thinking of the characters as real people, as if the author can actually interact with him or her. The fictional character can be so realistic that the author can have feelings about the character. This is why lovable characters are likely to have good fortune while despicable ones are killed off or suffer some terrible fate. When fiction writers talk about their characters, it sounds no different from talking about people they know in real life. It's an interesting fact if you never knew this. "Stranger Than Fiction" takes this idea to another level and so goes the story.

I do like the fact that this film keeps jokes about a voice in one's mind to a minimum. The film explores the theme of living life to the fullest if you knew that your life would be over at some point. It's the same thing that happens to people diagnosed with a terminal illness. Then again, it applies even if you have no idea when you'll die or what you'll die from, as Professor Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) implies in one scene. The production and direction were stylish and engaging as well as the acting. Will Ferrell gave a great performance as the protagonist, much restrained in comparison to previous roles but Maggie Gyllenhaal steals the show for coming across as both funny and sad. Veterans Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson deliver as one would expect, entirely at one with their roles. Emma Thompson is enjoyable to watch doing practically anything, and this role gave her a lot to play with. Last but not least, the supporting cast (most notably Queen Latifah) was solid and held the film together. The story was clever, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, and moved along well. I liked the writing and diagrams on screen to represent Crick's thought process, and the look of the film is adequately eccentric, even though the story almost leads to nothing.

The only previous work I had seen of director Marc Forster was 2005's "Stay" with Naomi Watts, and "Finding Neverland." Forster has an incredible imagination and a way of creating such a unique world, story and complicated plot but somehow makes it truly watchable. "Stranger that Fiction" certainly succeeds in creating a much more humane story than the sometimes simple-minded "I Heart Huckabees." But, still, this is a work of fiction in which every character is sacrificed in the name of a high-minded concept -- a concept which may leave you smiling in the end, but not after you've scratched your head and wondered where all the characters went.

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More Stranger Than Fiction reviews
Quick Tip by . October 19, 2010
I wasn't eager to see this. Then I couldn't wait to persuade my husband to see it. A weird premise beautifully executed.
review by . November 08, 2008
Stranger Than Fiction
The premise is simple but interesting: guy starts hearing a disembodied voice narrating his life and realizes he's a character in someone else's story. That's pretty much it. But the movie manages to deliver its deeper message, one about living instead of just being, without the usual everybody-be-happy cheesiness which defines so many "feel good" movies.  Will Ferrell's turn as lonely IRS agent Harold Crick is a far cry from his usual onscreen persona but that may well be what makes this …
review by . March 05, 2009
I was pleasantly surprised at this very well-done film with a highly likeable Will Ferrell as Harold Crick who is a character in a novel by Emma Thompson (I forgot her character's name) that Emma has scheduled to die.  Somehow Crick's watch does something to make him real and he can hear Emma's narration of her novel as she types it.  Crick starts to realize that all Emma's observations about him are accurate, so when she says that a certain event will set things in motion that Crick will …
review by . April 05, 2009
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):     1. Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is a tax man. As a matter of fact, he's the kind of serious tax man that the Beatles sang about:   "Now my advice for those who die, (Taxman!)   Declare the pennies on your eyes, (Taxman!)   `Cos I'm the Taxman."   2. Crick begins hearing a female voice in his head narrating his life, and starts to take it really seriously when she starts talking about impending doom. …
review by . December 17, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Harold Crick Was an Ordinary Man Until...
Imagine that your whole life, your entire existence was the creation of another human being's mind. What would it feel like to know that your actions were not the result of individual thought but were born of an author's imagination? How would you react if you knew that all of your pains and problems were no more than the whims of an eccentric writer? What if your fate, your world, even your personality were just the invention of another person? And what if your life was about to end and you knew, …
review by . February 07, 2009
Best-selling author, Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson), is struggling with her newest novel. How will she kill the main character, Harold Crick? Little does she know, Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is real and she is writing his life story. Harold has been hearing her voice in his head as she narrates every moment of his mundane life as an IRS agent. Harold seeks out help from a professor of literature (Dustin Hoffman), and together they try to figure out who the voice is and what it means for Harold's …
review by . December 18, 2007
What an intriguing concept - an ordinary if somewhat introverted man who, unbeknownst to himself, is actually a character in a novel-in-progress, and a novelist whose character, unbeknownst to her, is real. Not an easy story to write or film. Nevertheless, both have been done, and done well. The screenplay makes the whole thing comprehensible, and the stellar acting makes it believable. It was hard to accept that this restrained actor is Will Ferrell. He DOES have talent, and a bit of that goofy …
review by . October 01, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
I was pleasantly surprised at this very well-done film with a highly likeable Will Ferrell as Harold Crick who is a character in a novel by Emma Thompson (I forgot her character's name) that Emma has scheduled to die. Somehow Crick's watch does something to make him real and he can hear Emma's narration of her novel as she types it. Crick starts to realize that all Emma's observations about him are accurate, so when she says that a certain event will set things in motion that Crick will die, he …
review by . September 07, 2007
Truly enjoyable movie. Thompson creates yet another memorable character. She truly excells at portraying cynical characters. Gyllenhaal's character, although not as memorable, was well portrayed. Huffman was excellent as well. And Ferrell, well, it was good. His expressions' portraying a lost sad man living a completely uneventul life won me over. The movie, as opposed to its characters, refused to fall into cynicism. It is intersting to note that the most cynic of the characters goes outside of …
review by . August 22, 2007
I have a hobby as a writer. I've actually had some of my work published. I've done some pretty awful, horrible things to some of my characters. I've killed them, maimed them, subjected them to abuse parents, drugs, fear, danger and death. All in the name of good writing and conflict!    So you'll understand that the idea of ever meeting some of my characters, especially, say, in a dark alleyway, is something that fills me with some sense of trepidation.    This …
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Jen-Jay AKA:JJI ()
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Married into the military for over a decade and it does has itpros andcons. The lifestyle is great and Ido enjoy it. I'm able to do things and see things that I thought I wouldn't dream of. My kids loves … more
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Stranger than Fiction
Theatrical film poster Directed by Marc Forster Produced by Lindsay Doran Written by Zach Helm Starring Will Ferrell
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Dustin Hoffman
Emma Thompson
Queen Latifah
Tony Hale Music by Britt Daniel
Brian Reitzell Cinematography Roberto Schaefer Editing by Matt Chesse Distributed by Columbia Pictures Release date(s) November 10, 2006 Running time 113 min. Language English Budget $30 million Gross revenue $40,660,952

Stranger than Fiction is a 2006 American comedy drama film. The film is directed by Marc Forster, written by Zach Helm, and stars Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, and Emma Thompson. Columbia Pictures distributed the film.[1]

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[edit] Plot

Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is an auditor for the Internal Revenue Service, living his entire life based on the timing of his wristwatch. He is given the job to audit an intentionally tax-delinquent baker, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to whom he is awkwardly attracted. On the same day, he begins hearing the voice of a woman that is omnisciently narrating the events in his life, but he is unable to communicate with the voice. On his way home, Harold's watch stops working and he resets it using the time given by a bystander; the voice narrates "little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his ...

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