Being John Malkovich (1999)

I think I’ll simply surmise the emphasis of this review in one opening sentence: The most refreshingly and exhilarating original movie in years. MTV music video chief royale Spike Jonze directs a modern day fable that is a hallucinatory trip through the looking glass and into man’s thirst for celebrity. While Malkovich is stuffed with enough brilliant gags to kill the Austin Powers franchise, it is also a deeply articulate and insightful piece about the longing for love and fame. The movie is often thought-provoking while side-splitingly hilarious.

I will not spill one lick of Charlie Kaufman’s plot to ensure the viewing audience the pleasure of astute surprise, and there is plenty. Malkovich is the first film in a long time to have just as many unexpected twists and turns in the final 30 minutes as it does in the first 30 minutes. The acting is wonderful consisting of John Cusack’s greasy puppeteer loser, to Cameron Diaz’s frumpy animal loving wife, to Catherine Keener’s man-eating ice queen, to even a wonderful inspired parody of John Malkovich as himself playing himself.

Being John Malkovich isn’t afraid to tackle weighty subjects such as gender identity or the hunger to be somebody, but it never looks down upon the characters or the audience but instead treats each with nurturing respect. The movie is a breeze of fresh air in a field cluttered with too many formulaic fluff appealing to mass audiences and consumer goods. Malkovich is destined to become a cult classic and deservedly so. The flick is a spurt of creative madness bordering on genius that one wonders how it ever made it into release with today’s society and studio heads. God bless you Spike Jonze and you too Charlie Kaufman. Fare thee well.

Nate’s Grade: A

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About natezoebl

One man. Many movies. I am a cinephile (which spell-check suggests should really be "epinephine"). I was told that a passion for movies was in his blood since I was conceived at a movie convention. While scientifically questionable, I do remember a childhood where I would wake up Saturday mornings, bounce on my parents' bed, and watch Siskel and Ebert's syndicated TV show. That doesn't seem normal. At age 17, I began writing movie reviews and have been unable to stop ever since. I was the co-founder and chief editor at PictureShowPundits.com (2007-2014) and now write freelance. I have over 1400 written film reviews to my name and counting. I am also a proud member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA) since 2012. In my (dwindling) free time, I like to write uncontrollably. I wrote a theatrical genre mash-up adaptation titled "Our Town... Attacked by Zombies" that was staged at my alma mater, Capital University in the fall of 2010 with minimal causalities and zero lawsuits. I have also written or co-written sixteen screenplays and pilots, with one of those scripts reviewed on industry blog Script Shadow. Thanks to the positive exposure, I am now also dipping my toes into the very industry I've been obsessed over since I was yea-high to whatever people are yea-high to in comparisons.

Posted on October 9, 1999, in 1999 Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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