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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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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 »

Parents Guide:

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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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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nicolas Cage was given completely separate credits for Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman. The credits were given in order of appearance and each of Cage's credits appeared in the order that Charlie and Donald appeared. See more »

Goofs

When Charlie opens the passenger (right) door of the rental car, we hear a buzzer, warning that the key was left in the ignition. The buzzer should only sound when the driver (left) door is open. 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

The screenplay is credited as being written by both Charlie Kaufman and his fictional brother Donald. See more »

Connections

References The Stepford Wives (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Dead Melodies
Written by Beck (as Beck Hansen)
Published by BMG Songs, Inc. o/b/o itself and Cyanide Breathmint
Performed by Beck
Courtesy of Geffen Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Guide on "How To Write A Screenplay" and "How to Live Life"…
12 May 2007 | by (Suffolk, England) – See all my reviews

Jonze and Kaufman have pulled it off again. Witty, surreal, brilliant, inventive, amazing and most of all; the most inspirational film I have ever seen. One of the best and definitive films of the 21st Century.

Nicolas Cage has two parts in this film, Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, twin brothers. Both screen writers. Charlie is writing a screenplay based on a book called "The Orchid Thief" {a real book}. But nothing happens in it. He is finding it hard to stay true to the book when there's no events in the book. Writer's block. Meanwhile, Donald is storming through his screenplay which is about a serial killer with split personalities – a theme regularly used in cinema today. This is a take on how and why there are so many teen horrors with crappy ideas, while films that would appeal to a smaller audience are harder to conjure. During the course of Adaptation. we see Charlie's screenplay "The Orchid Thief" showing as it would if it became a film, featuring the author; Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) and the books protagonist, John Laroche (Chris Cooper).

Charlie Kaufman {the character} is one of the most relatable characters in cinema for me. He too is looking for inspiration, something to help achieve his dreams, but he can't seem to find it. He waits for something to come and change his life for the good but never takes the opportunity. He worries about the most insignificant things that aren't life-changing. But the difference to me and Kaufman, is that he finds the way. In the end he has learnt his lesson and learnt how to live life. I am going to take the same advice. His narration gives us a very detailed guide of his feelings and thoughts.

Nic Cage gives a redeeming performance and one of the best of his career as both Charlie and Donald. They are very different personality-wise, Charlie being nervous and frustrated, while Donald is almost too upbeat about everything. His chemistry with himself is incredible its hard to believe they are the same. Chris Cooper delivers an Oscar winning performance, and it sure was worthy. Very fun character, taking away his seriousness whenever he should be serious. Meryl Streep is also flawless, giving a performance which she shows her moods appropriate to the scene.

Spike Jonze gives us a very interesting directional view. With a lot of tie-in's with Being John Malkovich (his previous film) to show us his own little world, where anything can happen. There are also a lot of tie-in's with the film itself in which Kaufman comes up with an idea for the script in the film, when it actually happens in this film (while his ideas are for "The Orchid Thief"). And, of course, there is the strange factor in which Charlie Kaufman has included himself in his screenplay… and in the film, the character Charlie Kaufman has included himself in his own screenplay. It is truly hard to believe how Kaufman comes up with this stuff.

This may lack the dark style of "Being John Malkovich", but they are in the same world. Don't miss this moving comedy and hilarious drama. I can't help but get lost in its wonder.

10/10


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