FIND MOVIES
Movie List
Loading ...
or
Find Theaters and Movie Times
or
Search Movies

Stranger than Fiction

Submits to the temptations of clichés and bathos
By PETER KEOUGH  |  November 10, 2006
2.5 2.5 Stars

What’s stranger than fiction? Some might say meta-fiction, the “avant-garde” genre that’s actually older than Don Quixote, in which a work of fiction self-consciously refers to its own artifice. A bit dry, perhaps, for a mainstream romantic comedy — which might be why director Marc Forster (Finding Wonderland) lards over his whimsically feeble film with sentimentality.

IRS auditor Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) has his counting-toothbrush-strokes routine disrupted by a woman’s voice, British-accented, narrating his life with the overwrought prose of a best-selling novelist. And so she is: Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson embodying the writer as a chain-smoking twitchy hoyden) is a reclusive genius struggling through writer’s block to finish her latest work, Death and Taxes. Trouble is, she can’t figure out how to kill off her protagonist, Harold Crick, since in each of her books, as in life itself, the hero or heroine must die.

Neither Crick nor Eiffel is aware the other exists, and Harold tries to solve the mystery of the narrative voice by consulting a literature professor (Dustin Hoffman, dipping a little into his I ♥ Huckabees role and providing the film with some absurdist panache) who says things like, “Ah, dramatic irony. That’s the killer."

Indeed. Too bad Forster didn’t indulge in more of that irony instead of submitting to the temptations of clichés and bathos. Or narrative devices like love object Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a baker who gave up on Harvard Law School in order to “save the world with cookies.” But the director learned the hard way, through the critical and commercial pummeling of his previous film, Stay, not to be too ambitious. As for Ferrell, he’s going in the opposite direction, trying like Jim Carrey to act in more “serious” roles, and the result is that you wait for him to be funny and he never quite is. This is no Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Which given that film’s poor box office is probably good news for everyone involved except movie fans.

On the Web
Stranger than Fiction's Web site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/strangerthanfiction/

  Topics: Reviews , Celebrity News, Entertainment, Movies,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
More Information
ARTICLES BY PETER KEOUGH
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BUFFET DINING: THE 15TH BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL  |  March 19, 2013
    "Copraphagy" is a key word at this year's Boston Underground Film Festival at the Brattle.
  •   REVIEW: GINGER & ROSA  |  March 19, 2013
    Sally Potter likes to mess around with form and narrative.
  •   UNDERGROUND CINEMA: THE 12TH BOSTON TURKISH FILM FESTIVAL  |  March 12, 2013
    This year's Boston Turkish Film Festival includes works in which directors ponder the relationships between the secular and the religious, between men and women, and between destiny and identity.
  •   REVIEW: A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III  |  March 12, 2013
    In Roman Coppola's sophomoric second feature (his 2001 debut CQ was promising), Charlie Sheen shows restraint as the titular asshole, a dissolute ad designer and solipsistic whiner who's mooning over the loss of his latest love.
  •   REVIEW: UPSIDE DOWN  |  March 14, 2013
    Had Ed Wood Jr. directed Fritz Lang's Metropolis , he couldn't have achieved the earnest dopiness of Juan Solanas's sci-fi allegory — nor the striking images.

 See all articles by: PETER KEOUGH