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Being John Malkovich (1999)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy  |  3 December 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 239,308 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 832 user | 241 critic | 36 from

A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of the movie star, John Malkovich.



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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 56 wins & 62 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Derek Mantini
Father at Puppet Show
Madison Lanc ...
Daughter at Puppet Show
Woman in Elevator (as Octavia L. Spencer)
K.K. Dodds ...
Byrne Piven ...
Captain Mertin
Judith Wetzell ...
Tiny Woman
Cab Driver
Guy in Restaurant


Puppeteer Craig Schwartz and animal lover and pet store clerk Lotte Schwartz are just going through the motions of their marriage. Despite not being able to earn a living solely through puppeteering, Craig loves his profession as it allows him to inhabit the skin of others. He begins to take the ability to inhabit the skin of others to the next level when he is forced to take a job as a file clerk for the off-kilter LesterCorp, located on the five-foot tall 7½ floor of a Manhattan office building. Behind one of the filing cabinets in his work area, Craig finds a hidden door which he learns is a portal into the mind of John Malkovich, the visit through the portal which lasts fifteen minutes after which the person is spit into a ditch next to the New Jersey Turnpike. Craig is fascinated by the meaning of life associated with this finding. Lotte's trips through the portal make her evaluate her own self. And the confident Maxine Lund, one of Craig's co-workers who he tells about the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Ever Wanted To Be Someone Else? See more »


Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 December 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Biti John Malkovich  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$637,721 (USA) (29 October 1999)


£1,882,462 (UK) (5 May 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The name of John Cusack's character is a combined reference to Edward Gordon Craig and Bruce Schwartz. Schwartz is an accomplished American puppeteer while Craig was a turn-of-the-century theater artist who suggested that actors should be viewed as no more important than marionettes. See more »


When Elijah the chimp lets Lotte out of the cage, he jumps out leaving the checked blanket all messed up. On the last shot of the scene the blanket is straightened out. See more »


[first lines]
Lotte Schwartz: Craig, honey, it's time for bed.
[fade out and in]
Orrin Hatch the bird: Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up,
Craig Schwartz: Lotte...
Lotte Schwartz: I'm sorry. I didn't know Orrin Hatch was out of his cage.
See more »

Crazy Credits

at the end of the cast listing is noted ...and John Malkovich See more »


References Rosemary's Baby (1968) See more »


Pace, pace, mio Dio
from "La Forza del destino"
Written by Giuseppe Verdi
Performed by Eva Urbanová and The Prague Symphony Orchestra
Courtesy of Promusic, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

It's Out And There's Nothing Like It
1 December 1999 | by (Rutgers U, NJ) – See all my reviews

Being John Malkovich leaves you astounded. What happened in that dark theater? Twist and turn, one thing more fantastical than the next, this movie is 100 % UNIQUE. Even the introduction and the setting of the film are outlandish to say the least. The movie develops quickly, plummetting viewers into the warped world it creates; while the surroundings are strange, they are presented without leaving the audience convinced and I found that my questions about Malkovich's mysterious portal, such as "What happens if John Malkovich goes into his own portal?", were answered.

The directoral work in John Malkovich is quite interested at times as well. Seeing the world through John Malkovich's eyes is not an easy feat to accomplish, but is done tactfully.

However, it is the interactions between the characters that fortifies this film. Cuscack, completely smitten by Catherine Keener's character, finds that his love is unrequited. There are more twists in this story, but that's for you to find out, now isn't it? So be John Malkovich!

100 of 141 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
I am a MSTie, and found this uwatchable. gaijin33
Why John Malkovich? miles_fierce_larson
I completely do NOT get this movie, care to explain? yuan-van
Highly Overrated chironaphelion
Catherine Keener as Maxine? metanthrax
This is a horror movie georgetazberik
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