"This is a story about a man called Harold Crick and his wristwatch." Harold (Will Ferrell) is an ordinary man who works as an IRS agent. He lives alone in an apartment and hasn't taken a vacation in years. Harold focuses virtually everything he does on numbers and percentages: how many brushstrokes he takes while brushing his teeth, how many steps to the bus stop... You get the idea. It is safe to say that Harold leads a relatively mundane life.
That is, until he starts hearing the voice of a British woman narrating everything that he does, as though he is in a story. Soon, Harold finds out that he is going to die, and finally begins to "live his life." By doing this, he meets and falls in love with a feisty baker, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhall) , learns to play the guitar, and discovers that the woman narrating his life is actually famed author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson). Harold meets with Karen, and they discuss the ending of the story.
I am not going to tell you much more than that... I don't want to spoil this great movie for you.
Stranger Than Fiction is most definitely a film for people who like to write fiction. Others might not "get it" or may lose interest quickly. While the story may appear to be about a man battling with an unseen narrator so that he can go on living his life, it is actually much more than that. Harold finally discovers the kind of person he really is because he is faced with the prospect of death.
The cast is fantastic. I sort of expected Ferrell to tank as Harold Crick, as it isn't the normal role we see him in. Sure, there are some hilarious parts when Ferrell gets to use the physical comedy he is famous for, but his one-liners and perfect delivery are what make this actor shine in this film. It's pretty surprising to see characters like Ferrell and Jim Carrey (The Number 23) step outside their comfort zone and into a more "serious" role. Even more surprising is the fact that they succeed.
Maggie Gyllenhall, known for her wild roles in cult and indie films (Secretary, Adaptation, World Trade Center), is ripe for the picking with mainstream Hollywood. She's gorgeous and an absolutely fantastic actress. I can't wait to see her as Rachel Dawes in 2008's The Dark Knight.
Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and Queen Latifah are good, but they don't shine like Gyllenhall and Ferrell do. Hoffman and Thompson play the same characters that they've played before: neurotic, aloof, sarcastic... Not really a big stretch for them. Latifah is a bit muted as Eiffel's assistant, Penny. She's got some okay one-liners, but just doesn't have the good delivery she usually has. I think this is because she was given a relatively flat character.
Overall, Stranger Than Fiction is a terrific film, especially if you like to write. My husband, however, deemed it a "chick flick", so men beware.
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older
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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.
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 ...