Stranger Than Fiction review by The Grim Ringler

Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction

The search for the meaning of life is one of those things that some people obsess over while others simply take life as it comes but whatever the approach, everyone has their theory. What if though, the question wasnt what the meaning of life was, but rather what is lifes purpose? And along this long trail of questions comes one that everyone is also bound to ask themselves if you knew your end was coming, what would you do about it?

Harold Crick (Will Ferrell in a fantastic performance) is an ordinary man. More than being just ordinary though, hes a boring man. Harold is a taxman who obsessively counts every step, every brush of his teeth, and every countable thing he comes across. This all changes for Harold though when one morning he begins hearing the voice of a narrator narrating the moments of his life as he lives them. The thing is, no one else can hear this narrator. The voice is that of a woman and it becomes maddening to him to hear this voice and to know that it sees and knows all that he is doing. In the hopes of finding an answer he turns to a Literature professor (Dustin Hoffman chewing up the scenery) for answers. The professor doesnt take him seriously at first but, intrigued by what is happening, and by a phrase Harold had heard little did he know the two men work on finding out who it is the narrator might be and what manner of story is playing out. What the two find out though is that the story that is playing out for Harold may not be nearly as important as the effect its having on him. Instead of watching his life pass him he begins to take control of events and starts to actually live. Now that he is newly in love with life and with a new woman in his life, Harold must find and face the author of his story and beg them to reconsider his fate and change the book before its too late.

The hardest thing for me to do for the entire film was to get past how much this felt like it would have been a Jim Carrey film. Hes doing these sort of quirky meta-movies now and it felt like a movie hed have been in. I am not a fan of Ferrell and wasnt sure how hed do here but Ill be damned if he isnt terrific in the film. He brings a sincerity to the role that makes it work and with that comes his every-man charm. The film is about the characters and not the filmmaking and hes given a lot of trust in the role and does well by it. Maggie Gyllenhaal is adorable as the love interest and she really nails the character. You believe shes falling in love because it doesnt happen over night and feels organic. The story itself is one that seems familiar but there are twists here that keep it fresh. The music is low-key and doesnt overplay or overpower the film. It keeps a perfect tone and works hand-in-hand with the direction. It was refreshing to see a smart comedy. This is a movie that, while its a generally feel-good film, its not one that takes the easy way out. I mean, Harold goes through some crap.

As I said earlier, one of the more interesting traits of the film is that it deals with the notion of fate and what it means to live know what your fate is. Harold fights his fate, for sure, but there is a point where he realizes that, whatever it is that lay ahead of him, in the end, what happens before then is up to him. He needs to live his life and to find out what its meaning is. As we see, there are great gulfs of time that our narrator/writer doesnt delve into and its in these moments that Harold truly becomes alive. He may not be able to control what happens to him some day, but if he lives each day like his last, he can live a life thats both rewarding and important.

While not quite as good as a film like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this is in that films league as a smart film that treats both its audience and its characters as intelligent beings. While not groundbreaking, this is a very good, very thoughtful film and was one of the best smart comedies of 2006.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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