My husband and I rarely get away on a date. Saturday, however, we went to see Stranger than Fiction, which, in my opinion, lived up to its name. Critics are calling the film "odd," "eccentric," and pathos-evoking. Mark Collette, critic for the Tyler Texas Morning Telegraph writes on Rotten Tomatoes:
When I left the theater, I got in my car, turned off my perpetually running radio, and thought for a long time before I moved. It's been a while since a film has done that.
That comes pretty close to my reaction, too. My husband liked the film. He asked what I thought, and I was speechless for a moment.
My first thought was that I liked how it was about a writer experiencing writer's block, and I loved that Emma Thompson played the author. If you're going to have a running narration inside your head, you've gotta love Emma's voice for that.
You also have to suspend the ol' disbelief for this film. Will Ferrell, playing mild-mannered IRS agent Harold Crick, is the main character in Thompson's novel. Thompson's character, Karen Eiffel, has a dilemma--she needs to kill-off the character, and she can't think of a creative way to do it. Her bigger dilemma, however, arises when she learns that Harold is a real person. What to do, what to do.
Surprisingly, Ferrell is completely likable, believable, and engaging. He's funny in a subdued way, never over the top.
I should have loved everything about this movie, including the ending, which I won't spoil. I did not love Maggie Gyllenhall's character at all, and so whenever she was in a scene, I enjoyed it about as much as fingernails on chalkboard. Also, I could not get past Dustin Hoffman being Dustin Hoffman in this movie. He's just such a big persona it's hard to forget who he is, except when he's in Captain Hook makeup.
What I did like: Will Ferrell's character's development, the growth of the author, the sweetness of the humor, the fact that this was an intelligent, thoughtful movie. I liked the way details played important parts in the movie as they did in Mel Gibson's Signs, my favorite contemporary movie.
What I didn't like: The way a fantastical idea was introduced into a very straight, realistic story. There was neither enough fantasy nor enough reality, or too much of either to weave into the other. I didn't like the ending, and now that I've read reviews, I see that I'm not alone.
Interesting: My 17 year-old son saw this with a friend. I suspected he would not like it all--no action, too touchy-feely, etc. Not the usual fare for teenaged boys. Guess what. He really liked it. I asked why. He said, "Because it wasn't too funny or too serious. Just the right mix."
Well, what do I know?
Would I recommend the movie? Yes, but not for children. If you'd like a movie that makes you think without being too cerebral, this is it.
The plot is intriguing because most of us at one time or another have thought, "What just happened here? Gee. Truth really is stranger than fiction." We sense that what seems incidental may not be at all. And from a believer's perspective, those moments could be the finger of God, stirring events according to his will. I guarantee that if you see this film, you'll never drop an apple again without thinking about Harold Crick.