Director of Monster's Ball, Finding Neverland, and Stranger Than Fiction.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006) -- If we were able to read Emma Thompson's book in it's "masterpiece" form (a masterpiece according to the literature professor, Dustin Hoffman), here's how it goes: Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is a guy who counts a lot (tooth brush strokes, etc.), one day sets his watch three minutes wrong, and then gets hit by a bus as a "result." The end. Even for an O. Henry short story, it would suck. The screenwriter (Zach Helm) not only knows nothing about writers and novels, but he knows nothing about every occupation he writes about: IRS agents, bakers, professors (a distinguished one who for some reason teaches a whopping five classes), psychiatrists (who say "schizophrenic" to their patients and think it explains everything away), guitarists (who learn "songs" rather than chords, etc.) and every other occupation that appears on the screen. As the love interest, Maggie Gyllenhaal is ridiculous: tattoos and a "brash" attitude taking the place of any real character. Almost everything about this movie is stupid, including the fact that it's a second-rate Charlie Kaufman movie, and I hate Charlie Kaufman. The only thing that makes the movie watchable is Will Ferrell's performance. He manages to take one of the most uninteresting character ever written (whose "embrace of life" included learning the guitar and wearing a sweater) and make his likeable. Sure, he does that thing done by Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, and Robin Williams before him -- where he takes his normal zaniness and tames it -- but he does it in an endearing way and also keeps it funny. To sum up: sucky movie, good actor.
Copyright (c) May 2007 by Rusty Likes Movies