Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction

4.5 38
Director: Marc Forster

Cast: Marc Forster, Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman


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A socially isolated IRS agent whose every move is documented by a disembodied female voice discovers that his life is the subject of a book currently being written by a best-selling author, whose creative block has stunted her repeated efforts to kill him off, in a quirky fantasy comedy written by Hollywood hot property Zach Helm and…  See more details below


A socially isolated IRS agent whose every move is documented by a disembodied female voice discovers that his life is the subject of a book currently being written by a best-selling author, whose creative block has stunted her repeated efforts to kill him off, in a quirky fantasy comedy written by Hollywood hot property Zach Helm and directed by Finding Neverland's Marc Forester. Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) lives a life of solitude. Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) can't seem to find a way to finish her latest book. Though Harold and Kay have never actually met, their fates are about to become intertwined in a most unusual manner. With her publishers growing increasingly impatient with her apparent inability to put the finishing touches on her latest novel, Kay is assigned a new assistant whose task it is to help provide the creative push needed to get her book finished and into the hands of her many eager fans. The subject of Kay's novel is a lonely and despairing IRS agent named Harold Crick, who believes that his life has lost any real meaning. As Kay continues to weave Harold's woeful tale without realizing that her protagonist is actually a living human being unable to concentrate on his life and career due to the constant interference of the narrator who inexplicably seems to anticipate his every move and read his every thought, her continued efforts to kill her perplexed subject finally provide him with the incentive needed to fully experience life by seeking out the source of the voice that plagues him. Penned by the screenwriter named by Variety magazine as one of the "Top Ten Writers to Watch" and who was also included in Esquire magazine's "Best and Brightest" list of 2004, Stranger Than Fiction features supporting performances by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
A reality-bending comedy in the mold of Being John Malkovich, Marc Forster's Stranger than Fiction does something quite remarkable: It gives Will Ferrell the least annoying character he's ever played on film. The Saturday Night Live alumnus here portrays Internal Revenue Service functionary Harold Crick, whose solitary and desperately dull existence is interrupted one day by the sound of a voice talking about his life as though it were part of a story. And indeed it is. Eccentric novelist Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is struggling to complete her latest book, and Harold has become her protagonist. When, in a bit of foreshadowing, she writes that he will soon be dead, Harold understandably freaks out. He undertakes a race against time to find the author before she can create the fatal scene, and in the process he becomes more attuned to life and its endless possibilities. Ferrell plays this role with deadpan earnestness, and under Forster's direction he turns in a carefully modulated performance. Thompson is marvelously dotty as the writer, and Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Gyllenhaal lend strong support as a professor of literature and Harold’s girlfriend, respectively. The script by Zach Helm, clearly influenced by the work of Charlie Kaufman, never really tries to address its inherent ridiculousness, but ultimately that doesn't matter. It's a clever piece of work, exceptionally well interpreted by Forster.
All Movie Guide
It's a great movie no matter how you look at it, but it's hard not to notice that Stranger Than Fiction is the best movie Charlie Kaufman never wrote. The story-within-a-story-within-a-story premise smacks of the über-meta style Kaufman brought to Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) awakens one day to find that he is, in fact, the main character in a novel being written by an eccentric, chain-smoking writer named Karen Eiffel, played by Emma Thompson. This is where we would expect the narrative to start nose-diving towards meta-land; the movie's story is Harold's story, but Harold's story is apparently Karen's story. If Charlie Kaufman were writing the script, this is where he himself would make his appearance because the whole thing is, in fact, the screenwriter's story. But lucky for us, Stranger Than Fiction's actual writer, Zach Helm, hits the ball out of the park on this point: he stays out of it. The film turns out to be a classic (classic meaning enduring, not meaning a pseudonym for trite) tale about the self-imprisonment of modern-life, about the value of companionship, and about the joy of infinite possibilities. The wild premise -- while always entertaining -- eventually takes a back seat to Crick and his existential adventure. This is another area where the film bears a strong resemblance to a Kaufman project, as Will Ferrell's uncharacteristically sensitive, intimate performance is very reminiscent of the way funnyman Jim Carrey did the same thing in Eternal Sunshine. Watching a loud-mouthed comedic actor keep it "reeled-in" has novelty, but Ferrell does a lot more than that here. He proves he can really act, portraying Harold with more than enough love and authenticity for us to pull for him as he falls in love with the feisty, anti-establishment pastry chef he's auditing (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Harold pursuing a romance with the ill-tempered baker becomes just one of many ways in which he tries to make the story of his life into something he's proud of. It may sound hard to believe, but as the movie progresses, the fact that key elements of Harold's life are being decided by they keystrokes of a reclusive novelist becomes fairly easy to accept. By the end, Harold's sweet, unpretentious, and extremely poignant story doesn't belong to screenwriter Zach Helm or even to Karen Eiffel, it's just Harold's and, by extension, ours.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Deleted scenes; Funny on-set moments; Multiple behind the scenes featurettes

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Will Ferrell Harold Crick
Maggie Gyllenhaal Ana Pascal
Dustin Hoffman Professor Jules Hilbert
Queen Latifah Penny Escher
Emma Thompson Kay Eiffel,Karen 'Kay' Eiffel
Tony Hale Dave
Tom Hulce Doctor Cayly,Dr. Cayly
Linda Hunt Doctor Mittag-Leffler,Dr. Mittag-Leffler
William Dick IRS Co-Worker 1
Guy Massey IRS Co-Worker 2
Martha Espinoza IRS Co-Worker 3
T.J. Jagodowski IRS Co-Worker 4
Peter Grosz IRS Co-Worker 5
Ricky Adams Young Boy
Christian Stolte Young Boy's Father
Denise Hughes Kronecker Bus Driver
Peggy Roeder Polish Woman
Tonray Ho IRS Co-Worker 6
Danny Rhodes Bakery Employee 1
Helen Young Bakery Customer 1
David Pompeii Bakery Customer 2
Linara Washington Bakery Employee 2
Larry Neumann Homeless Man
John Mohrlein Man With Hose
Bruce Jarchow Commuter
Kristin Chenoweth Book Channel Host
Bradley Mott Large Man on Bus
John Watson TV Author
David Wiegers Bakery Customer 3
Jarret Sleeper Bakery Customer 4
Karen Lloyd Customer With Tan
Keith Kupferer Demolition Foreman
Danny McCarthy Demoliton Crew
Tab Baker Demolition Crew
Mark Buettner Claw Operator
Christian Young ER Doctor 1
Arraon Hixson Young Male Patient
Bryan Kelly ER Orderly
Whitney Sneed ER Nurse 1
Ray Kurut ER Doctor 2
Michael Cook ER Doctor 3
Cheryl Lynn Bruce Head ER Nurse
Chet Dubowski Man in Tweed
Oran "Juice" Jones Banneker Press Receptionist
Jordan Keller Grocer
Herb Lichtenstein IRS Co-Worker 7
Stacey Jackson IRS Co-Worker 8
Jordan Teplitz Old Man on Phone
Ricardo Guiterrez Bus Company Manager
James Mazza Irritated Man on Bus
Oscar Roxas Another Man on Bus
Nadiera Bost Accident Witness
Sandra Marquez Accident Witness
Lacy Coil Accident Witness
Will Clinger Accident Witness
Albert Samuels Accident Witness
Frank Caeti Accident Witness
Andrew Rothenberg Doctor Mercator
Rengin Altay Nurse
Lucinda Kemp Bus Operator
Donna Watkins Bus Operator
Julien Heron Animal Footage Voiceover
Bob Papenbrook Animal Footage Voiceover
Mike McColl Animal Footage Voiceover

Technical Credits
Marc Forster Director
Matt Chessé Editor
Britt Daniel Score Composer
Lindsay Doran Producer
Joe Drake Executive Producer
Kathleen Driscoll-Mohler Casting
Frank Fleming Costumes/Costume Designer
Ron Goodman Cinematographer
Edward Gutentag Camera Operator
Kevin Tod Haug Cinematographer
Zach Helm Screenwriter
Aubrey Henderson Co-producer
Lora Hirschberg Sound Mixer
Craig Jackson Art Director
Nathan Kahane Executive Producer
Eric Kopeloff Executive Producer
Michael Lerman Asst. Director
Ted Lichtenheld Cinematographer
Francine Maisler Casting
Jim McConkey Camera Operator
Scott Millan Sound Mixer
Jim Miller Co-producer
Jimmy Miller Co-producer
Roger Neill Score Composer
Sean O'Reilly Cinematographer
David Obermeyer Sound Mixer,Sound/Sound Designer
Paskal,Tenner & Rudnicke Casting, Inc. Casting
Brian Reitzell Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Geoffrey G. Rubay Sound/Sound Designer
Kerry Sanders Set Decoration/Design
Roberto Schaefer Cinematographer
Michael Semanick Sound Mixer
Kevin Thompson Production Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Stranger Than Fiction
1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
4. Chapter 4
5. Chapter 5
6. Chapter 6
7. Chapter 7
8. Chapter 8
9. Chapter 9
10. Chapter 10
11. Chapter 11
12. Chapter 12
13. Chapter 13
14. Chapter 14
15. Chapter 15
16. Chapter 16


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