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Being John Malkovich

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Being John Malkovich

Starring: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz
Director: Spike Jonze
Rated: R
RunTime: 112 Minutes
Release Date: October 1999
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: John Malkovich, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, W. Earl Brown, Mary Kay Place, Charlie Sheen, Spike Jonze

Review by MrBrown
4 stars out of 4

There has never been anything quite like _Being_John_Malkovich_, and there likely never will be again. No imitator--a number of which the film is sure to inspire--could ever capture the clever, surreal dementia of this "comic fantasia" written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by music video wunderkind Spike Jonze. It begins on a somewhat offbeat but deceptively normal-seeming note: unemployed New York puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) takes a job with a filing company and becomes infatuated with Maxine (Catherine Keener), who works at a neighboring company on the 7 1/2 floor (don't ask) even though he is married to dowdy pet store worker Lotte (Cameron Diaz). Then comes the absurd wrinkle to the tale: one day at work Craig stumbles onto a secret tunnel that leads... into the mind of actor John Malkovich (who plays himself).

Rarely does one ever get to see with one original twist, let alone the wild and completely unpredictable entirety of _Being_John_Malkovich_; the portal conceit is merely the jumping-off point for an exploration of celebrity, identity, sexuality, and other issues that is never less than imaginative--not to mention insanely funny and consistently surprising. Kaufman's giddily complex script and Jonze's adept direction never hits a false note; even the most outrageous hairpin twist feels like a logical development. Deftly handling the demanding material and giving it a certain something more is the amazing cast; Cusack, Diaz, and Keener are not only funny, but they lend a real pathos to their characters that lends some genuine emotional involvement to the story. Best of all, though, is Malkovich, absolutely hilarious and the epitome of a good sport as the bewildered man whose head becomes a metaphysical amusement park for others. A work of stunning originality, _Being_John_Malkovich_ is an amusement park thrill ride in itself, constantly twisting and turning its audience in new and unforeseen directions--but unlike the case with most roller coasters, this film's passengers will walk away completely satisfied.

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