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Film Review: Adaptation

The big epiphany line in this movie is “You are what you love, not who loves you.” Well, as nice as this nonsense seems, I can certainly say that I am not Adaptation. No part of my heart, body or mind is made up of this movie. Part of me is diet Coke and part Twizzlers, but no part is this flick. I hated it, not only because it was bad (it was), but also because it had the potential to be good.

I really liked the concept of a movie about nothing. A movie about flowers. A movie about real life, where not a lot happens. Two hours of Seinfeld meets the New Yorker. That is what the trailers for this movie by (and about) Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter of Being John Malcovich, seem to promise. The movie even starts with Charlie making the claim that this is what he is trying to create. But he let us down.

The most amazing thing to me is that a lot of the film’s dialogue is about how to avoid writing a bad movie. They keep pointing us right back to the fact that they have not achieved that. This is like Enron putting out press releases every week on how to conduct ethical business. Just doesn’t make sense to me.

For those of you who liked this movie, I feel I need to give credit to some good moments. Chris Cooper’s character was interesting and a lot of fun. I would like to see this toothless collector of orchids and internet porn pop up again in a better movie. I found his little dialogue about collecting fish and his decision in the end to “F@ck Fish” to be comedy.

Nicholas Cage did a good job acting the role of a painfully disturbed and shy Charlie Kaufman. His voice-over soliloquies were humorous and pretty insightful into the mind a man questioning himself and every thing in his life. I am not sure we needed to see him masturbate three times, but that is just personal taste.

There are some appealing film montages and time-lapse scenes that were done well. But no amount of cinematic trompe l’oiel or decent acting can save a movie with weak writing and a really dumb ending.

I did like seeing Charles Darwin show up in a movie. He does not get enough cameos in my mind. My only disappointment was that his presence reminded me I have not yet evolved into someone who asks others about a movie before paying for it. It would be great to be the first of the next breed of super humans who can somehow avoid wasting time in theatres.

I know I have sounded a little neutral during this review, so I want to say out right, “Don’t go!” Keep your $8, send me half, and I will start a fund to pay people off NOT to make bad movies. For instance, my approach to Charlie Kaufman: Charlie, if you think it stinks while you are writing it, then it probably stinks. Stop making slop and I will give you a stipend for not working.

February 10, 2003
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