Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction (movie, ****)

I think it's time for me to just grit my teeth and declare that I am a Will Ferrell fan. I hated him with a passion when he was a hyper cheerleader on SNL. But I just have to say that everything he's done recently has been getting consistently better and better.

Stranger Than Fiction is very funny. Also extremely different from his last movie, Talladega Nights, which was also very funny. Whereas Ricky Bobby went for broad, obvious, Mel Brooks-style satire, STF is a very witty romantic comedy you just watch with kind of a goofy grin on your face most of the way through.

I love movies and books that screw with the narrative structure. It's one of the main reasons why Memento is among my favorites. I also very much enjoy stories which have characters who become aware of the story they are in. I admit to loving Last Action Hero as a guilty pleasure, and I've re-read The Neverending Story (enormously superior to the movie version) many times.

Most everything in the movie just worked for me. The reactions of all the characters to Will's narrator. The chemistry between Will and Maggie Gyllenhaal. (She is a major hottie, but who the hell knew that Ferrell could play a successful romantic lead?) The cleverly placed computer graphics that highlight the tedium of Will's life. The fake-out scenes that take place in the author's imagination. The fake literary analysis.

I can't remember where, but I recently heard a critic say that comic actors make successful transitions to drama far more often than serious actors make successful transitions to comedy, because doing comedy is harder. I would not call Stranger Than Fiction a drama by any means, but it is a thoughtful comedy different in nature from anything I've seen Ferrell do before, and it bodes well for his future career.

1 comment:

  1. I can understand why you would like such stories. I also liked this movie. A book you should consider reading is the "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" by Robert A. Heinlein. It's set firmly in his "Reality as Myth" series of books.

    Unfortunately, it's not the central plot, but the background for the entire story. It is the central plot in his earlier work, "The Number of the Beast". I didn't like that book quite as much, and there was a bit more math involved. But they were both great Science Fiction books.

    Oh, the math involved is mostly nothing for people like you and I. He goes in to binary search trees and the like. But he spends a bit of time talking about 6-dimensional geometry. But you don't need to really understand it.