Monday, November 13, 2006

Review: Stranger Than Fiction...and other stuff

What would be a more appropriate movie for a group of writers to go see than Stranger Than Fiction?

I can't think of one, and, coincidentally, that's what we did on Saturday night of the girls'/writers' retreat weekend.

I really enjoyed the movie, although it wasn't what I expected. I didn't necessarily expect the crazy Will Ferrell that I saw in The Wedding Crashers and Old School, but I guess I did think it would be more of a light comedy.

It wasn't, but I really liked it. The movie took its time; it wasn't a fast, glitzy, laugh-till-your-sides-hurt show. It wasn't an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story. It was easy, funny, poignant, and thought-provoking.

For those of you who don't know, the story is about Will Ferrell, an auditor for the IRS, who somehow ends up being the main character in Emma Thompson's latest book. The problem is, she's known for killing off her protagonists just at the moment when their lives become wonderful!

Ferrell's character, Howard Crick, figures this out when he begins to hear the author, Kay Eiffel (Thompson)'s voice in his head, narrating his every move as if he were in a story. It's the phrase "little did he know..." that causes Crick to realize his death is imminent.

The acting was excellent; which directly relates to the fact that the cast was superb. I was impressed with Will Ferrell's acting ability (ie, showing emotion and playing the role without the usual blasting, boisterous persona most people expect from him), and as usual, I loved Emma Thompson (it's hard not to love her in anything she does).

Dustin Hoffman has become a great character actor, and shows off in this hilarious, understated role. And surprise, surprise...Tom Hulce makes an appearance, which none of us realized was him until the end!

Queen Latifah is also in the movie, but her role was odd. She played it fine, but, as another reviewer wondered, I can't help but think that there might have been more to it that landed on the cutting room floor--because as it is, it just didn't seem to do her justice.

And Maggie Gyllenhaal was adorable and sweet and part of what surprised me about the movie. I didn't realize it was really a romance, and although there were lots of other things going on, I loved watching the characters grow into their relationship.

After the show, we writers talked about it. Two of the three of us who'd seen it thought it was great; but the third thought it was just okay. One of her thoughts was that it was a bit slow (which I agreed with, but I liked it for that reason...that it took its time).

Her other concern was that we never understood why or how it happened that Kay Eiffel's character--the one she thought she'd created from nothing--was actually a real person being narrated to his demise.

True, but it didn't bother me. It was what it was, and there is a moral in the story about free will and choices, and a message that people who live a certain way by making certain choices should be free to live.

Interestingly enough, when I got home, I watched another movie with a similar feel: The Lake House.

I really enjoyed that movie as well (although it was much more difficult to do so, with three exuberant-Mommy's home!-kids bouncing around, and a husband who'd had a few celebratory beers now that he was no longer In Charge)...but we all watched it, and all enjoyed it.

And the only question I had that lingered was why and how? Why and how were those two characters connected through time and space?

We never had the answer, but my Music Man put the theme into a clear, concise statement: some people are meant to be together, even if the timing is wrong.

So true.

My Music Man and I are the perfect example of that. Like Alex Wyler and Kate Forrester, and the hero and heroine in Nora Roberts's Blue Smoke, the MM and I met (or nearly met) several times over the course of five years before we actually "found" each other.

I'm fond of telling him that if we'd met any time before we did, then, no, no no no...we would not have been together. Neither of us were ready.

The same was true of Alex and Kate in The Lake House.

And the same was true of Harold Crick and Ana Pascal in Stranger than Fiction. It wasn't until he realized his life was going to end that Harold Crick shrugged (albeit slowly, and believably) out of his cocoon of numbers and rules and patterns and began to live life.

Which is what we all should do.


Anonymous scifichick soliloquized...

Both were very cute movies..
I need to run out and buy Lake House.

Monday, November 13, 2006 9:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous soliloquized...

I wasn't overly excited about The Lake House- not real big on Keanu when he attempts to "act". But I liked it well enough I suppose.

bf promised he'd take me to see Stranger than Fiction this week and I'm holding him to it!

Monday, November 13, 2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Carl V. soliloquized...

Glad you liked both films. As you can see on my site, I also saw Stranger over the weekend. Both it and Lake House have turned out to be among the more enjoyable films that I have seen in the theatre this year.

Monday, November 13, 2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Jill Monroe soliloquized...

I just popped my friend Gena an e-mail telling her we have to see this new Will F. movie!

Monday, November 13, 2006 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Annie soliloquized...

My mom and I also saw Stranger than Fiction this weekend and I loved loved loved it. My mom also thought it was going to be a bit more of a comedy, but she still really enjoyed it. And I think you're right on with your review.

As for The Lake House, I never saw it and really don't have the motivation to see it. I thought originally it was going to be based on the James Patterson novel (which I loved). When I found out it wasn't, I felt so let down that I don't want to see it at all.

Glad you enjoyed 2 good movies this weekend!

Monday, November 13, 2006 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger The Cosmic Kid soliloquized...

I KNEW that was you at the theatre this weekend. I saw the movie with friends I hadn't seen in months, so I never got a chance to say hi...but I could tell who was laughing at all the writer jokes!

I really enjoyed STF. The cast was amazing, and I found it really refreshing to see a movie that wasn't about making snap decisions, but the more labored way of changing your life.

The Lake House...was ok. I love sandra bullock, so I saw it, but I couldn't get past Keanu's terrible acting, and a few logic flaws with the film...I probably could have gotten past the logic flaws if I was more attached to Keanu's character though. It would have suspended belief for me more, I guess.

Monday, November 13, 2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Heather Harper soliloquized...

You might want to consider revising this post if your husband reads your blog. He might think you are saying that BEER MAKES YOU SMART. ;)

Glad you enjoyed your weekend.

Monday, November 13, 2006 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Devonna soliloquized...

Some friends and I were supposed to go see Stranger Than Fiction this weekend, but we were all so exhausted this weekend that none of us made it. Hopefully this weekend.

I liked The Lake House also ~ but I wish the ending had been longer. It was just kind of like "There ~ they're together" and it ended ~ I would have liked to have actually gotten to see them together for a little bit. Have Alex show Kate the improvements he'd made to the house ~ Acually get to see them sit out on the deck together ~ that kind of thing.

Monday, November 13, 2006 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous maggie soliloquized...

I wanted to go see Stranger than Fiction I'm glad you said it wasn't the usual Will Ferrell movie so I won't be disappointed. Thanks for the review.

We went and saw Santa Claus 3. Kids pick and it wasn't as good as Santa Clause 1 or two. LOL. One was cute, Two was pushing it, three well.. you get where I am going.

Monday, November 13, 2006 1:26:00 PM  

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