Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction - cover - Click on image to go to Amazon's Stranger Than Fiction page

Stranger Than Fiction – cover – Click on image to go to Amazon’s Stranger Than Fiction page

Stranger Than Fiction is an amazing, unique, quirky and surprisingly excellent movie. A friend of ours, Adam aka @ross549 gave a DVD to us of a movie we had never seen before. He gave us the DVD not because he didn’t like the movie, but because they got a Blu-Ray version of the movie and didn’t need the DVD version any longer. That movie was Stranger Than Fiction. It became one of my favorites for many reasons.

First, Stranger Than Fiction showed a side of Will Ferrell that I never realized existed. Yes, I know comedy is as hard to do as any other genre of movies and it takes great talent to do comedy, but I found that there was just much more to Will Ferrell’s abilities as an actor; Will Ferrell was much more versatile than I ever imagined. I knew of Will Ferrell from the mid-70s on Saturday Night Live, and had seen a few of his zany comedy movies, but this Harold Crick was a much deeper character than any role I had seen him become before.

Second, the combination of a fantastic cast including; Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah and Maggie Gyllenhaal was magical.

Third, it was so unique of a concept for a movie!

Fourth, I am a sucker for a comedy that is also a bit of a drama, with romance and fantasy thrown in for good measure!

OK, some stats on this movie from Amazon:

Product Details:

Actors: Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, Maggie GyllenhaalDirectors: Marc Forster
Writers: Zach Helm
Producers: Aubrey Henderson, Eric Kopeloff, Hans Ritter, Jim Miller, Joseph Drake
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Subtitles: English, French
Dubbed: French
Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
PLEASE NOTE: Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called “region-free” DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: February 27, 2007
Run Time: 113 minutes
Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (430 customer reviews)
ASIN: B000LXH0AE

The movie came out in theaters in the United States on 10 November 2006. IMDb gives it a rating of 7.7/10 Stars and even though it came out in 2006 in theaters and 2007 on DVD, it is on the rise.

IMDb Storyline:

Everybody knows that your life is a story. But what if a story was your life? Harold Crick is your average IRS agent: monotonous, boring, and repetitive. But one day this all changes when Harold begins to hear an author inside his head narrating his life. The narrator it is extraordinarily accurate, and Harold recognizes the voice as an esteemed author he saw on TV. But when the narration reveals that he is going to die, Harold must find the author of the story, and ultimately his life, to convince her to change the ending of the story before it is too late. Written by the lexster

Everything from the opening credits to the end held my interest and kept me right on the edge of my seat. This movie is unique, quirky, amazing, and so well done. This was Will Ferrell’s first so called ‘dramatic’ role and he did it so well, I really expect more from him in more dramatic and heartwarming roles.

There were many wonderful reviews of this movie at Amazon and I can’t list all my favorites here, but here is Amazon’s review by Doug Thomas:

Much was written about Will Ferrell’s first “dramatic role” as Harold Crick, an IRS auditor who begins hearing a voice narrating his life. But Stranger Than Fiction is hardly a drama. However, what Ferrell does–like Jim Carrey before him in The Truman Show–is handle a toned-down character with genuineness and affection: you believe he is this guy. Crick leads a lonely life filled with numbers and routines. While at first he considers the voice a nuisance, Crick decides more action is needed when it speaks of “his demise.” Enter Professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), who takes on the absurd notion with revelry, trying to find out what kind of book Crick’s life is leading. It turns out that the voice Crick is hearing belongs to Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson), a very real–and troubled–author who is writing a book in which Crick is a fictional character. As usual with these things, the stuffed shirt learns to live a better life–Crick even falls for one of his audits, a brash baker named Ana (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Marc Foster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) has the right tone for the film, using great urban scenes (the unnamed city is Chicago) with interesting visualizations of Crick’s world of numbers. He also directs Ferrell, Hoffman, and Gyllenhaal to their most charming performances (plus Linda Hunt and Tom Hulce pop up in two funny scenes). Ferrell succeeds in being a romantic lead you can root for; a scene where he eats Ana’s freshly baked cookies is totally delightful without a hint of sarcasm. Screenwriter Zach Helm has two personal traits with his story: like Crick he followed his heart (he stopped rewriting scripts and only worked on his own) and like Eiffel, the final results are not a masterpiece, but good, and entertaining enough. Britt Daniel of the band Spoon worked on the dynamite soundtrack.–Doug Thomas

 

And just two from the multitude of reviews by regular movie viewers like you and me:

Literature, Taxes, Death And Cookies–A Difficult Concept Is Executed With Originality And Precision

By K. Harris

The idea of “Stranger Than Fiction” appealed to me the moment I first heard of it. Harold Crick, played by Will Ferrell, wakes up one day and hears a voice. An omniscient narrator is relating his life with precision and no one can hear that voice but himself. It turns out that the voice is Emma Thompson, playing a famed author who is actually writing a novel about a character named Harold Crick. And it’s the same Harold Crick. What is being put down in fiction is also concurrently happening in real life. It’s a tricky concept, one that I felt might be impossible to pull off effectively. Well, not only does “Stranger Than Fiction” pull it off–it succeeds grandly as a surprisingly thoughtful, amusing, and moving contemplation of life. For Harold must immediately confront his mortality when the narrator informs him/us that he will soon die!

~

Very Very Funny . . . And Odd

By N. Burt

I loved this movie. It is funny and odd, but it has a lot of heart to it. The writing is so good that my friends and I thought at first that it must be adapted from a larger work, such as a book. The characters are that well crafted and the story that unique. These are not things most comedies bother with at present. Now, I’m calling this a comedy, but it will pull on your emotions a bit. Its all worth it though. The acting is great, which is not unexpected given the cast. If you love movies and are looking for something kind of different and original this is a good way to go. A really fun film to watch.

There was a really good TIFF Screening review on the movie by grissomsbutterfly1013 (Canada) on September 10 2006 about 2 months before it came to theaters in the USA:

Saw it at The Toronto International Film Festival and it was well done. Original storyline, fantastic performance from Ferrel, Thompson and Hoffman. The most moving performance from Will Ferrel I have ever seen is within this film. The storyline some may believe to be too far fetched at first to take seriously, but in the end it does work. What makes the film work the most are the brilliant performances from Ferrel and Thompson. Without these two- the film couldn’t have been pulled off! I recommend this flick to anyone looking to laugh and cry and then laugh again. It was a truly brilliant film. 10/10 (Hoffman and Ferrel were too kind to shake hands and greet the fans inside the screening as well.)

 

Couldn’t have said it better myself! Awesome movie. If you enjoy unique concepts in heartwarming and funny movies with a great cast, you may also find that Stranger Than Fiction becomes a favorite movie of yours as well.

                    

A Time to Kill

A Time to Kill DVDAll I can say is wow! What a powerful movie. It was wonderful to see so many great actors and actresses in this movie, as well as those I hadn’t seen before, and all doing such a tremendous job.

John Grisham’s bestseller A Time to Kill hits the screen with incendiary force, directed by Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, The Client). Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey and Kevin Spacey portray the principals in a murder trial that brings a small Mississippi town’s racial tensions to the flashpoint. Amid a frenzy of activist marches, Klan terror, media clamor and brutal riots, an unseasoned but idealistic young attorney mounts a stirring courtroom battle for justice. The superb ensemble also includes Brenda Fricker, Oliver Platt, Charles S. Dutton, Ashley Judd, Patrick McGoohan, Chris Cooper and both Donald and Keifer Sutherland. These and other talents make A Time to Kill “one of the year’s most powerful films” (Jeffrey Lyons, SNEAK PREVIEW/ABC WORLD NEWS NOW).

John Grisham's A Time to Kill
This is a tragic, heartwarming, heartbreaking story. It is a must see movie, and an amazing book by John Grisham. I can’t say it enough … it was an exceptional movie. My copy of this DVD movie is an older, two sided DVD that has the cardboard snap cover on it, rather than a standard plastic DVD cover. I got it from a bin somewhere, maybe Walmart, or maybe even a thrift store somewhere, or maybe even on eBay’s Half.com. I can’t remember for sure as I have had it for several years now. The movie itself was done in 1996.

If you ever have an opportunity to rent or buy this movie, I don’t think you can be disappointed in it.

The big names, the well known actors and actresses were fantastic in their roles, as was the leading role played by Matthew McConaughey (he did a great job!), and his wife by Ashley Judd were very deep roles, as was Sandra Bullock’s role. It was great to see father and son (Donald and Keifer Sutherland) in the same movie and playing such dramatically different roles. I don’t think I remember seeing the two of them together in a movie before. Have you?

You wouldn’t know it by watching the Batman movies they collaborated on, but this smart adaptation of John Grisham’s novel proves that director Joel Schumacher and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have some talent when the right project comes along. Schumacher had previously directed Grisham’s The Client, and brought equal craft and intelligence to this story about a young Southern attorney (Matthew McConaughey, in his breakthrough role) who defends a black father (Samuel L. Jackson) after he kills two men who raped his young daughter. Sandra Bullock plays the passionate law student who serves as McConaughey’s legal aide and voice of conscience in the racially charged drama. Added to the star power of the lead roles is a fine supporting cast, including Kevin Spacey, Ashley Judd, and Oliver Platt. –Jeff Shannon