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Adaptation. (2002)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  14 February 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 136,187 users   Metascore: 83/100
Reviews: 706 user | 237 critic | 40 from Metacritic.com

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



(book), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 51 wins & 82 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


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 »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

14 February 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Orchid Thief  »

Box Office


$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


$89,971 (Hong Kong) (13 June 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The "filmography" link in the DVD includes a page for the fictional Donald Kaufman, listing his works as "Adaptation" and "The Three". There is a hidden link in the DVD main page. Scroll up from the main set of links and there is a telephone icon which appears, linking to a page with an "Adaptation Answering Machine" phone number, which had an answering machine with a message to leave your comments. Unfortunately, that phone number is no longer active. See more »


At the café, Charlie's arms/hands jump from the table to his lap between shots. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in The Reel Thing (2008) See more »


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

Cage redeemed.
27 July 2003 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

A brilliant, original film, hilariously funny almost all the way through, which is why the end seems disjointed and a bit out of sync with the rest of the film...until you consider McKee's advice to Kaufman, the success of Donald's cliched script, and the pressure on Charlie Kaufman (in the film) to finish the script. So it suddenly becomes a thriller, there's drama added to a genuinely moving story and characters, and it seems to rush towards its ending unprepared. But that's the whole postmodern element of the film - is it deliberately bad and pat (like the Player - a much lesser film that doesn't stand up after repeated viewing)?

Anyway, Cage is fantastic in this - really if the Oscars were about acting, he should have got it for articulating two characters brilliantly. After the mess of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, it's some achievement.

A must see - but you need to engage your brain for this!

55 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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