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Comedy Movies - Stranger Than Fiction

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Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson
Director: Marc Forster
Rated PG-13
Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD Release Date: February 27, 2007
Run Time: 113 minutes

Once in a while a comedy will come along that is smart, well made and entertaining and still not find an audience such was the case with Stranger Than Fiction. It is an ironic twist of Hollywood fate that Will Ferrell can fill theatres with roles that redefine puerile but when he steps out of his sophomoric roles into a mature comedy the audience doesn’t appear.

If your fate is being written can you change it knowing or are some things just fated to happen? If you hate your life can you turn it around simply by knowing what your fate is? Harold Crick is an I.R.S. (revenue) agent who lives a mundane existence controlled by his addiction to well ordered structure. Suddenly Harold starts hearing an omniscient voice narrating his life. Things come to a head when the narrator tells of Harold Crick’s imminent death. Harold, while hating many aspects of his life, does not want to die and goes off in search of his narrator.

There were so many possible ways that this story could have gone badly but the script and a firm hand from the director keep it on track. The metaphysical meanderings about fate, will and life are kept to a minimum but are present enough to keep the plot, choices and urgency in focus. This light comedy excels though when we get to the meat of the story which is the I.R.S. audit being conducted by Crick on Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and the ensuing comedy/tragedy that is Crick’s effort to win her heart.

Stranger Than Fiction is in essence a romantic comedy and a well done one that takes a unique premise and delivers on all levels. There is even a subtext of geek humor in the names chosen for the characters. Crick (Harold) – yes it is a muscle spasm but it is also the family name of the physicist/biochemist/mathematician who invented radar and discovered DNA, Pascal (Ana) – as in the mathematician and unit of pressures, Hilbert (the English professor) – is also the name of a German mathematician, Eiffel (the narrator) – a French engineer, Escher (the narrator’s assistant) – a graphic artist famous for tessellating planes and amazing popular among mathematicians, Mittag-Leffler (the psychiatrist) – a Swedish mathematician the only named character for whom there appears to be no connection with math is Harold’s superior Dr. Cayly.

This is a wonderful movie which deserves an audience and a place in your permanent DVD library.

Denis Bernicky



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