Self-loathing is a particularly obnoxious Jewish trait that many Jews have turned from a clinical problem into a highly successful comedy career (see also: Woody Allen, Richard Lewis). Jews like to laugh at themselves -- and non-Jews like to laugh at Jews who like to laugh at themselves -- because it seems to bring that whole "chosen people" thing into perspective. Really, how could God choose a people fraught with so many petty problems? It's a mystery.
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is following the exact path of Allen and Lewis by turning his personal demons into a first-person screenwriting exercise in culling themes from neuroses. While "Adaptation" appears to be about Kaufman's struggle to adapt Susan Orlean's book "The Orchid Thief" for the silver screen, it's really just about Charlie, Charlie, Charlie and the battle going on in his head about all things Charlie. I'm sure his rationale for scenes like the opening one go something like this: "Since I'm unsure about whether people really like me, I will use that neurosis so people will laugh at me. As they're laughing they'll come to the conclusion that I'm really likable, but won't see through the facade of this misdirection."
Undoubtedly, Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) creates an imaginary twin brother, Donald, and all the other fanciful, quirky things in "Adaptation" because he cannot, in fact, properly adapt Orlean's book. It is a lot easier to write a freakishly offbeat screenplay about your own struggles to adapt a book than to actually adapt a book. Adapting a book qualifies as actual work, while making up random crap like Orlean (Meryl Streep) having an affair with her main character, John Laroche (Chris Cooper) is nothing more than procrastination. While there's a certain level of reality in the original work, Kaufman appears unable to face any sort of reality, so he creates a new one. This isn't creativity so much as escapism.
I found it ironic that the most interesting thing about this film is the two car crashes. They are incredibly violent, sudden and realistic. While the rest of the film isn't really violent or realistic, it certainly seems like a car crash in most other ways.
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