Adaptation

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated R for language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Merryl Streep, Chris Cooper
Directed By:Spike Jonze

Final Grade:

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they think that they just can’t do it anymore. Everyone is like that at times; everyone hits that wall, the wall that keeps him or her from doing what is meant to be. For me a year after writing movie reviews, I hit that very same wall that everyone else does. The wall that makes your reviews trickle down to nothing but senselessness and the same old same old, lacking in originality. Every review becomes a copy of a copy of a copy… No one wants that to happen to them it just does, soon enough you find yourself finding your own flaws until they drive you into thinking that it is best to just give up the hope that you never really found in the first place. With all that aside, let me introduce you to Jason. Jason is a stupid young film critic wannabe who sits in his basement trying to write film reviews for an audience he is not sure exists or for that matter even cares. He keeps thinking that his next review will be the one that will change everything and suddenly he will actually impress someone with his brilliant writing skills. Then suddenly he gets the chance to see Adaptation, the new Nicolas Cage flick, and suddenly it all starts to make sense.

Adaptation starts out a lot like the previous story of my life. We are introduced to Charlie Kaufman, a fat, bald, repulsive broken screenwriter trying to pave the way to success through a struggling screenwriting career, by adapting a book “The Orchid Thief” to a screenplay. Charlie has done this many times, but this time it is different. We follow Charlie as he tries to adapt the story of a man who steals and reproduces orchid flowers for resale to film. But Charlie’s own thoughts about himself and the way the people around him view him keep him from creating a screen play from the novel, as keep him from succeeding in life.

Adaptation proves to be one of the more enjoyable films I have seen so far this year. The film really was released last year, and had I seen the movie before the end of the year wrap-ups for Box Office Boredom it would have earned a spot on Jason’s list for best films of the year. Nicolas Cage is a gem in this one, and a bonus for it all is seeing Nicolas Cage as an overweight balding screenwriter. And to make things even better, the Nicolas Cage fanatic gets to have double the Cage fun, since his character also has a twin brother Donald Kaufman that is played by Cage as well. Cage’s acting brought life to each of the twins that he played. A job very well done on something that could have been a catastrophe.

Our other characters, were an equal joy to view on the screen, and enhanced the film. I know that is something I have said multiple times in the past but this time I really mean it. Streep’s Character adds so much to the emotion of the film, and through her life we are able to see the world in different way.

Adaptation, Brought to you by the corrupt minds that brought you Being John Malkovich, is by no means anything that is “Normal” In fact the more I investigated it, the more confused I have become. The Screenplay is actually written by Charlie Kaufman, which if you didn’t remember is Nicolas Cage’s Character. What does it all mean? I’m not sure myself. Some people will think that this is an honest reflection of the Kaufman of real life, yet others wondering if the film is designed to do that to screw with our heads. I chose the second for my answer only because I know that being John Malkovich still messes with my head from time to time.

The humor in and bitter portrayal of real life are two elements I found to be the most intriguing parts of the film. Every character has their own problems and through Kaufman’s attempt to “adapt” the book to his screenplay, he learns more about the people around him as well as himself, and how they are all “adapting” to the changes in their life. I feel the film says some very strong things about self-images, dealing with change, and self-acceptance. All of these themes can be picked out from the heartfelt performances of Cage, Streep and Chris Cooper (Colonel Fitts in American Beauty) as well as the underlying humor. A perfect example of the humor of Adaptation lies within the “writers conference” Charlie attends. He is told that voice-overs are a cheap way out in screenplay writing. Yet throughout Adaptation the real life Charlie Kaufman introduces a lot of his ideas through just that: voice-overs. Humor through Irony can be a powerful tool, and Adaptation did a fine job of using that irony to its advantage.

I really feel that Adaptation was well worth my time and yours as well. Wonderfully Cast, and a great story, Adaptation kept my interest sparked from the beginning to end. Sure it’s not a high action flick, but sometimes you don’t need all that fancy Hollywood stunts to make a great flick. Adaptation proves to do just that. Check it out if you get the chance.

As for me, the stupid young film critic wannabe, I learned something through watching Adaptation, which was to just keep on trying. Nothing comes perfect right away sometimes you have to “adapt” to the world around you. Hopefully in time my reviews will be better and I’ll finally convince myself that I am not a film critic wannabe… Then again by then maybe I’ll be a film critic has been…Maybe my life as a film critic was not changed by Adaptation after all, then again maybe I need more time to adapt.

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