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Being John Malkovich (1999)

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

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 48 wins & 75 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

Ever Wanted To Be Someone Else? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 December 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Biti John Malkovich  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$637,721 (USA) (31 October 1999)

Gross:

$22,858,926 (USA) (7 May 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene when a can is thrown at John Malkovich's head is real. Malkovich has described how Spike Jonze wanted to cut it due to running late that night, expecting that no one would be able to hit him on the head with a half-full can of beer from a passing car, when about 70 or 80 sets of hands shot up on the crew saying that they would like to try. Eventually the task fell to John Cusack's writing partner and he nailed it on the first try. See more »

Goofs

As Craig enters Maxine's office to tell her of the portal there is a coat hanging on the doorknob. When he checks the hallway outside, the coat is gone, only to reappear after Maxine finishes taking her phone call. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References The World of Topo Gigio (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

Documentary Music
Written by Les Hooper
Performed by Les Hooper
Courtesy of Hooperman Music
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.

10/10


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