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3.8 13
Director: Spike Jonze

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper


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The creative team behind Being John Malkovich -- director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman -- return with this equally offbeat comedy, in which Kaufman himself becomes the leading character. Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is a gifted but profoundly neurotic screenwriter who, after the success of Being John Malkovich, has been hired to write a


The creative team behind Being John Malkovich -- director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman -- return with this equally offbeat comedy, in which Kaufman himself becomes the leading character. Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is a gifted but profoundly neurotic screenwriter who, after the success of Being John Malkovich, has been hired to write a script adapted from the nonfiction book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. But while Charlie is obsessive about his work, he's also intensely paranoid, given to deep depression, socially inept, and terrified of talking to women, qualities which are making it difficult to get on with his work or hold on to his tenuous relationship with girlfriend Amelia (Cara Seymour). Meanwhile, Charlie's identical twin brother, Donald Kaufman (also played by Cage), has shown up to move in with his brother. Emotionally, Donald is Charlie's polar opposite -- a loudmouthed, over-confident, superficial party animal who has an easy way with the ladies. Donald has decided to follow his brother's footsteps and take up screenwriting as well, but embracing the dictates of screenwriting tutor Robert McKee (Brian Cox), he's cranking out a cliché-ridden serial-killer thriller when not busy making time with new girlfriend Caroline (Maggie Gyllenhaal). As Donald blazes through his screenplay, Charlie slowly picks away at his story, in which author Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) chronicles John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a scruffy but devoted plant enthusiast who tries to save rare species of orchids by stealing them from their natural home in the swamps of Florida. As John and Susan become better acquainted, they find themselves attracted to one another; similarly, Charlie finds himself increasingly fascinated with Susan, and finds himself falling in love with her, even though he's only seen her photo on the dust jacket of her book. Charlie arranges to meet Susan, but is too nervous to confront her face to face, so he sends Donald (who has just scored a seven-figure deal for his script) in his place, while he attends a screenwriting seminar held by McKee. Adaptation also features Tilda Swinton, Judy Greer, and Stephen Tobolowsky.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Peter Marchand
Going through the looking glass and into the kaleidoscope, Adaptation defies easy description. A movie within a movie about the creation of a movie, it is an exhilarating mix of reality, fantasy, and dark humor, filled with satire and sharp performances. The concept revolves around screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage), who battles writer’s block while trying to adapt the book The Orchid Thief by New Yorker scribe Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep). The story mirrors that of the real-life Charlie Kaufman, who struggled mightily to adapt Orlean's novel about John Laroche (played by Chris Cooper), who poaches rare orchids in Florida's Everglades. Kaufman (the character) has an identical twin brother, Donald (also played by Cage), a freeloading lunk who inflates Charlie’s frustrations, fears, and delusions by taking a quickie screenwriting course with guru Robert McKee (Brian Cox) and selling a serial-killer flick for a cool million at the height of Charlie’s despair. Playing with the boundaries of fact and fiction, the film intersperses bits of The Orchid Thief adaptation with Charlie's other struggles -- namely, women and the world of moviemaking. The result blurs everyone’s perceptions of what’s real, what’s make-believe, and…what’s the difference, anyway? Few movies have been this provocative and playful since 1999’s Being John Malkovich, which Kaufman wrote and brought to the screen with Adaptation director Spike Jonze. Fans of that gem will exult as Malkovich, Jonze, and Malkovich stars John Cusack and Catherine Keener show up for cleverly interwoven cameos. Adaptation's three lead performers, each Academy Award nominated, make this tricky material work brilliantly: Streep exercises her penchant for humor; Cage recaptures the offbeat appeal he mastered in such films as Raising Arizona; and Cooper's turn is simply revelatory, earning him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. A bold and sly homage to the pains of the creative process, Adaptation proves that the real Kaufman is among the screen's most creative processors.
All Movie Guide
Critics charged with the divine headache of describing Adaptation, in all its twisted magnificence, should find it appropriate that the story concentrates on the paralysis of writer's block, brought on by the impossible urge to say everything. The sophomore collaboration between screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze is so drenched with unorthodox ideas, yet so fundamentally accessible, that it actually outdoes the groundbreaking Being John Malkovich in existential pretzel logic, while remaining digestible to a middle-brow audience. Kaufman's real-life struggles adapting Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief get brilliantly expanded into a self-reflexive narrative of sublime originality, in which screenwriter, author, and muse become intertwined, and such rich topics as artistic integrity, social awkwardness, and sibling rivalry get teased and prodded. Not only has Kaufman written himself into the proceedings, but in Nicolas Cage, he's found an exquisite choice to interpret himself and his twin brother -- an imaginary character given "real" life by receiving a screenwriting credit. Sweating, stammering, lowering his eyes, and imploding in a crisis of relevance -- then doing just the opposite as Donald -- Cage kicks his own career out of neutral, at least briefly exchanging the hunt for ever-bigger paychecks with work that truly matters. Although the stories of Orlean (Meryl Streep) and John Laroche (Chris Cooper) both carry a vital urgency, this is Kaufman's film, full of the anxieties of a kinky-haired shlub whose overactive imagination is both his meal ticket and his curse. Inasmuch as it eventually imitates the very story structure it abhors, Adaptation is the rare film that both attacks and revels in the humbling, soul-crushing yet exhilarating mechanics of Hollywood moviemaking.
Rolling Stone - Peter Travers

Screenwriting this smart, inventive, passionate and rip-roaringly funny is a rare species. It's magic.
Washington Post - Desson Howe
May not be the first movie to examine the creative process. But it's the most playfully brilliant.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

What a bewilderingly brilliant and entertaining movie this is.
Los Angeles Times - Kenneth Turan
It's typical of the nerve, the bravado, the sheer giddy playfulness and sense of fun that characterize what has to be the boldest and most imaginative studio film of the year.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Nicolas Cage Charlie Kaufman,Donald Kaufman
Meryl Streep Susan Orlean
Chris Cooper John Laroche
Brian Cox Robert McKee
Tilda Swinton Valerie
Cara Seymour Amelia
Judy Greer Alice the Waitress
Maggie Gyllenhaal Caroline
Ron Livingston Marty
Jay Tavare Matthew Osceola
Stephen Tobolowsky Neely
Peter Jason Defense Attorney
Curtis Hanson Orlean's Husband
Catherine Keener Herself
John Malkovich Himself
Lance Acord Himself

Technical Credits
Spike Jonze Director
Lance Acord Cinematographer
Peter Andrus Art Director
Justine Baddeley Casting
KK Barrett Production Designer
Richard Beggs Sound/Sound Designer
Carter Burwell Score Composer
Kimberly Davis-Wagner Casting
Jonathan Demme Producer
Gray Matter FX Special Effects
Donald Kaufman Screenwriter
Charlie Kaufman Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Drew Kunin Sound/Sound Designer
Vincent Landay Producer
Ann Roth Costumes/Costume Designer
Peter Saraf Executive Producer
Edward Saxon Producer
Gene Serdena Set Decoration/Design
Thomas Patrick Smith Asst. Director
Casey Storm Costumes/Costume Designer
Eric Zumbrunnen Editor


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Adaptation 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
searchmc More than 1 year ago
I liked the Movie, but in my opinion the acting of Nicolas Cage was a distration. The twins felt like they were the same person. I almost couldn't tell when one started and the other ended. Still I like the story.
JCWilkerson More than 1 year ago
Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is trying to adapt the book The Orchid Thief from Susan Orleans (Meryl Streep) about John La Roche (Chris Cooper) who goes to various places in Miami to find orchids to cultivate, but doesn't want to add much to the actual story. Because of this he's having a hard time adapting the book to movie form. He's also living with his brother Donald (Nicolas Cage) who has decided that he will become a screenwriter and is working on a screenplay about serial killers called "The Three". Charlie Kaufman (yes, that's a real person) is a brilliant screenwriter. Having written the little seen Human Nature, the quirky Being John Malkovich, and the critically acclaimed and brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Charlie was trying to come up with something new with his adaptation of Susan Orleans' book The Orchid Thief. He was having a very difficult time with adapting the book the way he wanted, but eventually came up with this idea to meld real life with fiction with a little help from his (fictional) brother, Donald Kaufman (who also earned a co-screenwriting credit). Adaptation is a brilliant film, as are most of Kaufman's works, melding together his real world works at adapting The Orchid Thief with the fictional account seemlessly. Throughout the film you get that this is a true story, especially when you review to realize that the character names are names of real people (with very few exceptions, such as Donald Kaufman), and then at the end, once you realize that this is a work of fiction, you can still see the work of Donald Kaufman on the film as if Charlie was channeling the character's ambitions in an effort to figure out how to end the movie. Naturally, in the end, when you find out more about the movie this only works to the story's advantage. Nicolas Cage isn't typically the actor that you'd look to to portray a character like this, or I should say, character's like this. Charlie and Donald are two totally different characters with separate sensibilities, but Nic plays them with amazing affinity for the shortcomings and strengths of the characters. Naturally, Oscar winning actress Meryl Streep throws herself fully into the game as always, and you also have a dose of the amazing Brian Cox, which is always worth noting. Chris Cooper as the eccentric orchid thief John La Roche steals the show though. This is a movie that I have to highly recommend. It's funny and stylish but doesn't lose it's focus on story and character building. The movie does a great job at remaining faithful to the material Charlie was originally trying to adapt by focusing some of the attention and narration on passages of the book, while also remaining entertaining, especially in the relationship between the two brothers. I only wish more screenwriters could be as inventive as Charlie Kaufman. 4.5/5
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sick of the twin cliche movies? The evil twin? The long-lost twin? Enjoy this journey through the mind, eye and brilliant directing by Jonze and all-star performances by Cage, Streep and Cooper. As a twin, I was blown away by Kaufman's (or is it The Kaufmans?) script. This is a classic for all wanna-be screenwriters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is so great. Not only is it the most clever movie I have ever seen, it is just plain hilarious. Nicolas Cage is awesome as both Charlie and Donald. Meryl Streep deserves an Oscar for her work, and Chris Cooper is phenomenal. Chris Cooper is just so outstanding, he makes the movie great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's easy to dismiss this movie as a whiny attempt to promote the screenwriter's art as a "REAL" art, wrapped up in a pretentious, self-referential coating that will be lauded by people who use the suffix "meta-" and words like "recursive"... so that's what I'm going to do.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a lover of all of life's beauty, i could not let that aspect of the film leave my mind!!!! At the same time, i was taken on one of the most brilliantly scripted film's i have ever seen indeed!!!!!