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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 242,073 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 833 user | 241 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

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 46 wins & 72 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


Be All That Someone Else Can Be 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?


Steve Oedekerk was sent an early draft of the script in 1989, and upon reading it, immediately arranged a meeting with Charlie Kaufman. Oedekerk told him he thought it was the most brilliant script he'd ever read, but also that he was certain it could never be made. See more »


When Maxine enters the lift on the 7 1/2 floor, it stops there when someone calls it (from outside), but from inside you have to stop it with the stop button because that's how it works. 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 »


Malkovich Malkovich
Written by Nick Peck
Performed by Nick Peck
Courtesy of Perceptive Productions
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Insanely brilliant and brilliantly insane.
29 June 2001 | by (Oxfordshire, England) – See all my reviews

All hail Spike Jonze for he is a genius. Not content with being the undisputed king of music videos, he's set his sights on full-length-feature-films. One might imagine that the often surreal, always innovative humour of his short music promos might not transfer across to a much longer production – like hell. ‘Being John Malkovich' is a fresh exciting stroke of genius.

John Cusack is Craig Schwartz, an unemployed puppeteer looser guy. In order to earn a living he is forced to find himself a regular job, only it soon becomes apparent that regular it is not. Working as a filing clerk on floor seven and a half, Craig stumbles across a portal into John Malkovich's head. No, really, that's what happens. Anyway, he turns this into a business venture with help from the beautiful Maxine (Catherine Keener), whom he lusts after. Maxine is more interested, however, in his wife, Lotte (Diaz, like you've never seen her before) but only when she's being John Malkovich.

Don't worry if this all sounds a little strange to you, it should do, it's probably the most surreal film ever made. I obviously can't give all the credit for this to director Spike Jonze; Charlie Kaufman is the genius that wrote this insanity. He's the most acutely imaginative and ingenious man of our time.

With such a fantastic cast the acting is of course superb; everyone's brilliant, especially Malkovich himself. Well obviously, you say, he's playing himself – yes, but he's also playing himself being played by an increasingly psychotic puppeteer.

Monkey flash backs and a restaurant full of Malkoviches are highlights of the insanely brilliant and brilliantly insane movie. If you thought that Spike Jonez could never top the Daft Punk talking dog video, you have never been so wrong in your life.


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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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