Stranger than Fiction (2006)
Truth is stranger than fiction.
I admittedly am not a huge fan of most of Will Ferrell's movies - stupid comedy such as Anchorman or Elf just don't tend to be my cup of tea. Yeah, I love hearing those types of movies quoted, such as lines from Superbad or Super Troopers , but the movies themselves I just don't find myself enjoying watching as much as some. As such, there was a little trepidation when this movie was requested for me to watch up and review, as I did notice Farrell's name attached - to which I was told it wasn't like those other movies. It's true, this isn't like those other movies, and I feel it might just be a good example of why you shouldn't go to (or avoid) a movie simply because of one actor.
Stranger than Fiction is a tale of a man who no longer controls his life. Harold Crick (Farrell) wakes up one day to discover he can hear a women narrating his life. It doesn't take long for him to realize that no one else can hear it either. It's all a bit of a simple annoyance for him, narrating off and on for no reason, until it decides to utter one phrase: "Little did he know," and tells him he will die soon.
What follows is a bit of a meaningful adventure, as Harold tries to find a way to break this fate assigned by his narrator (who has been right about everything else so far), as he goes to a shrink and a local literary professor, and after discovering that there is nothing he can to do avoid his fore-shadowed death he finally starts to really live his life. He learns guitar, falls in love, and overall starts enjoying things more so than he did before. Near the end, he even discovers who his narrator is, and confronts her about his fate, leading to a pretty effective ending.
The plot here is definitely something fresh in the batch of movies I have, and could probably be analyzed till a person is blue in the face for hidden meanings or cultural commentary, but I'm not the kind of person to look a gift horse in the mouth - it was a good, enjoyable watch. At moment's things might seem out of place (when recommended to "do nothing" for a day, for example, Harold refuses to leave the couch altogether - to the extent of peeing in a bottle) or wonky, and as far as the main objects go nothing really ends up seeming so far fetched that it isn't foreseeable. The only major twist lies towards the very end of the movie, but the work up to and around it is well thought out and effectively delivered so that you don't really expect anything beyond the moment - and truthfully it's a movie that lives in the moment.
Actors do a fine job here, including Farrell, in both delivering their lines and bringing a bit of character to their characters. The romantic interest effectively comes across as the spunky girl with good intentions even though she seems to be "sticking it to the man" so to speak. Harold comes off as a man of numbers, seeing and counting numbers on almost every action he does at the start of the film, yet by the end becoming much more loose about things when he finally starts to enjoy life. None of the characters here seem like they don't actually exist somewhere or another, that they couldn't be real, and it helps lend to the attachment to them that becomes important to the drama side of things.
Audio comes through nice and crisp, well balanced for making things audible. Costumes aren't anything spectacular, as one would expect from a modern setting - but also nothing so outrageous it seems out of place. Likewise, the setting is nothing out of the ordinary, and all works quite well together. There isn't much of anything (outside of the number's overlay from Harold's mind) to really break the feel of it being a real scenario (and I suppose the part of Harold being a character).
I do admit, although the movie struck me as rather effective, there were moments that also felt off enough to cause a knee-jerk reaction (such moments were often romance movie cliches, such as two people who hate each other falling in love, or love equating immediately to sex) for me. That's not to say I scoffed at the whole movie, but rather that at moments I stopped being engrossed in the (to me) interesting story being told and instead just threw up my hands with a loud mental thought of "Really? Are you serious?" I can't necessarily fault this one particular movie for that though, as it comes about in most romance movies (generally its why I stay away from romance-heavy or centered movies), and for certain I have no doubt that a good portion of the intended viewers would instead be spouting out "D'aww"s and "That's so romantic"s. Even with this set-back, however, I felt quite drawn to the fate of Harold, being nearly on the edge of my seat at the ending wondering if this was really how they were going to end the movie.
I enjoyed it, is what it comes down to. For what it was (a drama/romance flick) it had a rather interesting plot that really makes it stand out from a lot of the drama's centered around romance from what I've seen (sure, I haven't seen a whole ton of them, but can you really blame me?). It's a fun romp that has some humor built into it, but it's a basic sort of humor unlike the usual fare one expects from a movie with Farrell in it, so I'd think its a bit more accessible to the average viewer then the others. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, as most movies rarely are, but I'd say if you gotta sit down and watch a romance flick for whatever reason, this one is a lot more enjoyable than Titanic (for example).