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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Adaptation (2002)


One of the worst, and most confusing writer blocks ever…well…written.

Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is a Los Angeles screenwriter battling enormous feelings of insecurity and impotence as he struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief, a book by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), whose main character, John Laroche (Chris Cooper), is searching for love. Add to the mix Charlie’s twin brother, Donald (also played by Cage), and you have a surreal, Spike Jonze-directed gem about the search for passion.

When it comes to Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze, they literally are two great minds that just cannot be controlled without a doubt. Just by seeing this film you can tell that they should do more and more films together, no matter what the subject matter.

At first, the film may seem really confusing, and it may have you keep on wondering: whats fact or fiction? However, the film is structured in a way that it actually feels like your in Kaufman’s mind, with the over head narration, constant imagination shots, and the fact that his brother keeps on popping up.

The screenplay is what really works here, because it shows that writing about yourself sometimes works. Now take it for granted, this is a historical fiction piece, but some elements show the fact that Kaufman really did start getting nuts while writing this screenplay and we start to feel it. The blending of comedy and drama really works, cause the comedy at times is actually very very funny, something you wouldn’t expect, and also the drama in this film almost brings a tear to the eye sometimes, while providing a lot of info about life itself, something you wouldn’t expect. The film is alive, because it keeps on inventing itself as it goes along, surprising and challenging us, showing us something we weren’t expecting.

I had only one problem with this film and it was sort of obvious, and it was the sudden change of tone by the last act. I don’t want to give too much away, however, it just feels like the ending had a sort of Coen Brothers, thriller/comedy feel to it, and didn’t quite match with the rest of the film.

The best thing about this film, that really elevates it to the highest power, is the wonderful performance by Nic Cage. He plays both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, and it is just one of the greatest dual roles of all-time. There is no fancy-shmancy make-up done to either of these characters, nor do we get a huge announcement of who this is, we simply know by the way Cage acts each one out. Donald is funny, witty, and aspires to be something Charlie already is, while Charlie himself is nutty, smart, and also is going through some crazy stuff, but we can tell who each character is.

There is also a wonderful supporting cast here. Chris Cooper, plays his best role ever, as John Laroche, the free loving flower nut, who at first seems like a total dick, but somehow by the ends becomes our favorite character. I was glad he won the Oscar, because its just a type of character that have could have been played totally wrong, however gives us the feel and passion that lies within this great character. Meryl Streep also has a good supporting performance, although I somehow feel her scenes with Cage could have been better, if given more time on-screen. Also, Brian Cox is in this, need I say more.

Consensus: Adaptation seems confusing at first, but ends up turning into a superbly-acted, witty, and heart-felt realistic fiction, showing that sometimes writing about yourself is better in some cases.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

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13 responses to “Adaptation (2002)

  1. Ross McG May 25, 2010 at 11:34 am

    one of the great movie posters

  2. mill1924 May 25, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    At first I thought it was just going to be a whatever kind of film with good writing and good performances. But then once it got moving along, it got a lot more trippy than I was expecting it to. First Charlie K movie… somebody should have warned me.

    You are totally right, Cage is excellent in the film. One of the few I like him in.

  3. Olive May 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Loved Adaptation too and I agree that Cage was excellent. Haven’t seen Bad Lieutenant yet, but looking forward to it, judging from the reviews so far…

  4. Darren May 26, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I love that poster. I quite enjoyed the film. No Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but one of the few truly original films I’ve ever seen.

  5. Heather May 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    One of the best movies I have ever seen. Utterly and insanely brilliant. I haven’t seen it in a long time but would love to again. It is mind blowing.

  6. Castor May 26, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Very trippy and well-acted, this is one of my very favorite movie of last decade. Good review!

    • CMrok93 May 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm

      I wish I could say its one of my favorite movies, however, it is one of the most original. It’s just that darn last act kind of killed it for me. Thanks dude!

  7. Aaron Weiss May 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    I wrote a very detailed essay on the differences between the book and film at my website. http://www.cinemafunk.com/film-criticism/adaptation-orchid-thief-film-adaptation.html

  8. Peter Eramo Jr. May 31, 2010 at 1:23 am

    Great stuff. Nice review. I just posted my Top 25 comedies of the decade (2000-2009) and HAD to make sure to include this on the list. Unbelieveable script, great performances…Kaufman is certainly a unique, one-of-a-kind. Loved this film! Very accessible too, as you mention.

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