Stranger Than Fiction (2006) — What if you found out you were in a novel?

“Yes. I am relieved to know that I am not a golem.”

Justin’s rating: Is his appendix in the appendix?

Justin’s review: I sometimes wonder if I might be a mere character in some warped person’s novel, probably in a Beginning Creative Writers Workshop or something. Then I realize how truly boring my non-superhero-related day is, and dismiss the thought along with a healthy belch.

Not so for Harold Crick (Will Farrell), an IRS agent who wakes up one morning to hear a female voice narrating his life. As she points out how ploddingly boring his life is, he’s forced to realize that he’s just a creation. Worse than that, he hears the writer foreshadow his oncoming death, which happens to be that author’s forte.

Harold’s up poop crick — and without a bookmark. What to do? Where’s a thesaurus when you need one?

It’s an Interesting Idea. It leads into an Interesting Series of Unfortunate Events, some good, some bad, and some featuring Dustin Hoffman who is not only alive, but still looking spry for a 70-year-old who owes me $4.50 back for Sphere. Harold audits a cookie baker, he engages the help of an English professor to help him figure out his fictional status, and he goes on a short quest to meet his maker.

For an Interesting Idea, it doesn’t blossom into a Dryly Witty Comedy, or a Poignant Piece of Human Existentialism, or even Blades of Glory. It’s – and since Will Farrell is present, I cannot believe I’m saying this – a remarkably low-key tale that’s full of symbolic details of the sort film professors salivate over, but audiences ho and hum and glance at their watches. It’s as if someone took an excellent, imaginative short story, then padded it out to become a 500-page novel. I could see someone editing Stranger Than Fiction down into a ten-minute YouTube video, and retaining 100% of the relevant content.

With shades of Fight Club, The Neverending Story, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Being John Malkovich abounding, this flick can’t even claim to be wholly original. Yet mutanty points are given to Will Farrell, for once, not banging on a cow bell, Emma Thompson for simply showing up, and 70-year-old Hoffman bare chest. Yahoo.

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