Stranger Than Fiction

Bomb Rating: 

Just like Jim Carrey did in "The Truman Show," Will Farrell seems desperate to prove that he can actually act and isn't just that funny man we all know whose movies consistently rack up hundreds of millions of dollars.

Just like Jim Carrey did in "The Truman Show," Will Farrell seems desperate to prove that he can actually act and isn't just that funny man we all know whose movies consistently rack up hundreds of millions of dollars.

Remember, such an endeavor began a huge slide in Carrey's career. Same thing for Bill Murray. He just had to do "The Razor's Edge" in 1984. It took him about nine years to get another decent role. Let's face it: Movie stars just can't accept their lot in life. Who's going to be branching out next - Carrot Top?

Ferrell's version of acting basically involves playing a guy who I'm betting is not much different from Ferrell when Ferrell is extremely tired of being Will Ferrell. Harold Crick (Ferrell) is an IRS agent who's obsessive-compulsive. He counts everything. He brushes his teeth a certain number of times. He's boring and meticulous.

Harold Crick also hears his life being narrated in his head by a voice not his own. Fortunately, he realizes this is extremely strange and tries to find out who the voice is. Fortunately, we know that it's writer Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) and that Crick is one of her characters. Crick is also a real person. Again, harkening back to "The Truman Show," director Marc Forster creates that ever-so-fascinating (yawn) connection between art and real life.

Harold becomes a little concerned when Kay announces he's about to die. This raises the ever-so-fascinating question that we often pose to ourselves and our friends: "If you knew you were about to die, how would you change your life?" Harold's answer is that he has sex with Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Interestingly, sex with Maggie Gyllenhaal is also one of my answers for how I would change my life if I knew I was going to die.

We never really find out why or how Kay's voice is in Harold's head, but one presumes that Forster is trying to make some point about the connection between art and life -- fiction and non-fiction -- being a lot closer than we might expect. Either that or he's making a point about a creator's responsibility to his or her art or an author's responsibility to his or her characters. Anyway, I'm pretty sure there's a point in there somewhere.

Professor Jules Hilbert tries to explain some of these things, but doesn't do a very good job. When he reads Eiffel's draft copy, he prefers that Crick be killed off because it makes for a better book. It's a cute ending in the sense that not clubbing a baby seal to death is a cute ending, but I'm not sure that Forster establishes anything about art and life that hasn't already been bandied about a million times.

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