Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Being John Malkovich

I watched this before my computer broke, and I didn't get around to posting it. It called to me like Romeo + Juliet, only this time the result was much more gratifying.Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is an unsuccessful puppeteer who lives in New York with his wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) and her plethora of pets including a chimp and a parrot. After Lotte asks Craig to get a job, he begins working as a file clerk for LesterCorp, a curious business operating from floor 7 1/2 of a nondescript office building. The floor is so named because it is squeezed between floors 7 and 8, with the ceilings being so low that employees have to walk around bent over.While filing, Craig finds a small door hidden behind a filing cabinet. The door is a portal that leads into the mind of actor John Malkovich and allows whoever enters the portal to be a passive observer to whatever Malkovich happens to be doing for 15 minutes before spitting them out onto the New Jersey Turnpike. Craig quickly shares his discovery with co-worker Maxine and the two of them quickly decide to start a business allowing people to be John Malkovich for 15 minutes for $200 a trip. Maxine starts an affair with Malkovich when she discovers the high she gets from being able to sense when someone else is in Malkovich's head. During one of his trips, Craig discovers that he is able to control Malkovich because of his skills as a puppeteer and decides to try to use Malkovich's fame to launch his puppeteer career and in the process woo Maxine.
My Commentary: I know that the premise for this movie sounds weird, and it is really weird. But, I liked it. It was funny and creative and raises an interesting question. What if you really could be someone else? We've all made throw-away comments about how we wish we could be famous like some actor, or brilliant like some writer, but we never really expect that it could happen. Except for those Freaky Friday movies where some crazy switching thing happens, but in this movie, the people aren't switching lives with someone else. They are getting shipped to someone else's mind.
My favorite scene: When Malkovich follows Maxine with the help of a disguise consisting of an "I [heart] NY" baseball cap.

Rating: ****** (6 out of 10)

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