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Adaptation. (2002)

A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt 'The Orchid Thief' by Susan Orlean for the screen.

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(book), (screenplay)
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2,471 ( 4)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 63 wins & 101 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Russell (as G. Paul Davis)
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Ranger Steve Neely (scenes deleted)
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Prosecutor
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Orlean's Husband

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Storyline

While his latest movie Being John Malkovich (1999) is in production, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is hired by Valerie Thomas to adapt Susan Orlean's non-fiction book "The Orchid Thief" for the screen. Thomas bought the movie rights before Orlean wrote the book, when it was only an article in The New Yorker. The book details the story of rare orchid hunter John Laroche, whose passion for orchids and horticulture made Orlean discover passion and beauty for the first time in her life. Charlie wants to be faithful to the book in his adaptation, but despite Laroche himself being an interesting character in his own right, Charlie is having difficulty finding enough material in Laroche to fill a movie, while equally not having enough to say cinematically about the beauty of orchids. At the same time, Charlie is going through other issues in his life. His insecurity as a person doesn't allow him to act upon his feelings for Amelia Kavan, who is interested in him as a man. And Charlie's twin ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Charlie Kaufman writes the way he lives... With Great Difficulty. His Twin Brother Donald Lives the way he writes... with foolish abandon. Susan writes about life... But can't live it. John's life is a book... Waiting to be adapted. One story... Four Lives... A million ways it can end. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

14 February 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Orchid Thief  »

Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$384,478 (USA) (6 December 2002)

Gross:

$22,245,861 (USA) (18 April 2003)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To portray John La Roche, Chris Cooper grew out his hair, shed weight and used a prosthesis to create the illusion of a toothless mouth. Spike Jonze granted Cooper's request for numerous takes so he could find the right tone for the eccentric character. See more »

Goofs

When the accident involving John, his wife, mother, and uncle occurs, the spring holding on the uncle dummy's head, can be seen as the car is pushed to the left. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Charlie Kaufman: [voiceover] Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm a walking cliché. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked. There's something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I'm way overdue. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat I would ...
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Crazy Credits

After the closing credits, there's a quote from Donald's screenplay "The Three" and a dedication "To the loving memory of Donald Kaufman." See more »

Connections

Referenced in L'écriture à l'écran (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Alison
Written and Performed by Elvis Costello
Published by BMG Songs, Inc. o/b/o BMG Music Publishing Ltd.
Courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company/Elvis Costello Music
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products and Courtesy of Elvis Costello Ltd.
Under license from Demon Music Group Ltd.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
I get it now.
26 April 2005 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

The first time I saw "Adaptation" I expected something else and walked away severely disappointed. As some of you out there who Private Messaged me in regards to my initial review posted on IMDb might already be aware, I originally gave it a rating of 3.5/5 stars, back when I was frequently contributing to the site. I passed on without much thought, considering it a disappointment and leaving my critique for those who cared to read it.

It remains the single comment to have generated the most feedback for me. More than "The Passion of the Christ," and more than yes, even my upsetting review of 2003's "Peter Pan" (which seemed to anger the small die-hard fanbase for the film that lurks on these message boards - by the way, I've had to clarify this sentence by adding "for the film" because someone PM'd me yesterday accusing me of implying I have a fanbase on IMDb...no, I am referring to the film's fanbase, so please hold off on the accusations). I digress. In summary I gave "Adaptation" a negative rating and to my surprise, perhaps because I avoided totally slamming the film, the fans responded to me with kind words rather than harsh ones; conceivably they too had initially taken a dislike to the film? I made a daring move. I bought "Adaptation" on DVD for ten bucks, thinking, "I've got nothing to lose." Plus, the front cover looked cool anyway.

I watched it again (after taking into mind several themes and self-referential layers I had failed to visualize before) and was blown away by the originality and genius of the movie.

My hugest complaint regarding "Adaptation," originally, was its absurd ending -- I felt it was out of place, silly, and totally anti-climactic. Little did I realize this was the point -- to be a parody of the typical Hollywood blockbuster.

There are so many underlying jokes, gags and self-references that the film grows better -- like "Back to the Future" -- on each new viewing. You're always finding new stuff.

I found new respect for Nicolas Cage as an actor after my second viewing of this. I have always liked Cage despite the criticism he receives for being a one-sided actor; here, he proves he's capable of creating two very different human beings out of the same mold. Brilliant, Oscar-worthy stuff.

All in all I got it wrong the first time. "Adaptation" isn't a film that starts out clever and descends into a messy and stupid finish. Well, actually, it is. But that's the point. I didn't get it before. Now I do.

If you disliked this film, my advice? Watch it again. It knows a bit more about itself than you probably do. And read up on the message boards here a bit to get a clearer grasp of what's going on if you're totally clueless.

P.S. I'd like to thank all the people on this site who messaged me in response to my review.


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