John Cusack
Cameron Diaz
Catherine Keener
Orson Bean
John Malkovich
Mary Kay Place
Charlie Sheen

Spike Jonze



Time: 112 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Black Comedy/Fantasy

Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Keener) and Best Director.

I love it when filmmakers go out on a limb to tell strange little stories because, unlike most studio films, they don't always have a happy ending and are usually populated with either physically or emotionally unattractive people. People who are slightly off-kilter, but somehow more relatable because they aren't movie star perfect. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH is one of these movies. Not that I could really relate to any of the main characters or situations, but at least it was different, something I definitely have never seen before. Still haven't decided if that's a good thing or not. The world inhabited by the 3 leads – John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener – is not only unusual it's downright silly.

For most of the film Cusack and Diaz's characters are fighting over Maxine, played by Keener, while inhabiting the body of John Malkovich, who plays himself. It's great that Malkovich saw the potential of this idea and went along for the ride. It could have worked without his participation, but it makes it all the more amusing and intriguing that he joined in the fun. How do they become Malkovich do you ask?

By crawling into this mysterious portal found behind a filing cabinet at Craig's office, which just happens to be on the 7 1/2 floor. For 15 minutes, you see, hear and feel whatever Malkovich is seeing, hearing and feeling. Then his mind spits you out. Both in love with Maxine, Craig and Lottie (Diaz) fight to take over Malkovich to win her affections. Craig is also interested in "being" John in order to use his fame to ignite his puppeteering dreams. Initially, Maxine doesn't really care which one of them is inside of Malkovich, she just gets off by having "sex" with two people at the same time. However, once Craig experiences Maxine's love, he's not about to give it up, not even for Lottie.

"Do you know what a metaphysical can of worms this portal is?"

He learns how to control Malkovich and eventually takes over his consciousness. Within a matter of weeks, it seems that he's gotten everything he ever wanted, fame, Maxine and acclaim for his dying art. When Maxine becomes pregnant his happiness is complete, though her misery is just beginning. She doesn't love Craig, she loves Lottie. In the meantime, Lottie hooks up with some strange characters on her own, who are not about to let Craig stay in Malkovich forever. They have other plans for him. If you think this sounds strange, the ending is even weirder.

After all it's critical acclaim and awards, I really thought that I would like this movie more. It has it's amusing moments, but it's alot stranger than I anticipated. I know, it's a movie about people literally crawling inside the mind of John Malkovich, but.... I thought it would be funnier. I certainly don't consider it one of the best movies I saw from 1999. I know there wasn't a great selection to choose from, but I think the critics were seeing more than is actually there. The characters are so desperate and self-absorbed I wasn't really rooting for anybody, except John Malkovich. Their emotions and reasons behind their actions were genuine, just not real likable, which I don't always need to enjoy a movie, but helps a unique one go down easier. The three leads were very good, and Diaz really took a step in the right direction of becoming a serious actress by completely downplaying her looks. This part couldn't be further from the pert and pretty roles she's chosen up to this point in her career. She really impressed me.

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH has some wonderfully funny moments, but overall it's much darker than the trailers let on. This is a movie about love and desperation, which aren't always pretty. If you like really weird movies that have absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever, you will probably enjoy this movie. Otherwise, I suggest you spend your time in a world other than this.

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