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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 242,216 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 832 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


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?


John Malkovich was approached about this film several times and loved the script, but he and his production crew felt that another actor would fit the role better. Malkovich offered to help produce the film, and aid Spike Jonze in any way, but refused to star in it. Eventually after a couple of years Malkovich's will was worn down and he agreed to star in the film. See more »


When Malkovich and Maxine are on his couch, the shoulder strap of her dress moves back and forth between resting on her shoulder or falling off her shoulder, depending on the camera angle. 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 »


Features Death of a Salesman (1985) See more »


Song of the Soul
Composed by Patrick Hawes
Courtesy of Promusic, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Absolutely sublime modern classic
5 July 2005 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

Originality is one thing that I very much admire in cinema, and it's also the reason I rate Being John Malkovich so highly. Charlie Kaufman has taken an amazingly weird premise and twisted round a suitably offbeat story to create a movie that is as bizarre as it is as it is compelling, and it's definitely a major highlight of American cinema in the 1990's. Charlie Kaufman may have scripted his most acclaimed film in 2004 with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but if you want to see his best work - you need look no further than his first feature. Quite how anyone could have thought of this premise remains a mystery, but I'm certainly glad that Kaufman did. The story revolves around a portal that leads directly into the head of the actor, John Malkovich. After discovering this portal, puppeteer Craig Schwartz shares it with his colleague and crush, the beautiful Maxine Lund. Things start to get complicated when Craig's wife, Lottie, becomes involved and it turns out that Craig's not the only one with a crush on Maxine.

The usually presentable John Cusack and Cameron Diaz are completely unrecognisable as this film's leading couple and both give career highlight performances. Catherine Keener fleshes out a threesome of leads. She is seductively sexy, and delivers a performance that reflects the quality of this film on the whole. And, of course, John Malkovich stars also. The fact that it's John Malkovich who is the title actor is what really makes this film. Had the film have been, say, 'Being Tom Cruise'; it wouldn't have had nearly the same impact. Malkovich is a big actor, but he's not THAT big and the fact that it's him takes the film away from the mainstream and allows it's offbeat indie roots to stay intact. Kaufman ensures that the story works by constantly adding new and weird events into the plot, and this in turn ensures that we never know what's coming next. Of course, this is exactly what you want from any film. The elements of the story aren't bound tightly enough to really make a lasting impression where substance is concerned; but it hardly matters, as there's enough offbeat invention in this film to more than adequately mask that fact It's easy to call this movie pretentious or silly; but it's also pointless. Being John Malkovich is a modern classic.

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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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