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Adaptation. (2002)

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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) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 60 wins & 95 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

Official Sites:

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Language:

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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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Script guru Robert McKee suggested Brian Cox to play him. See more »

Goofs

During his conversation with Susan at the nursery, John's assistant's ponytail appears and disappears over his shoulder between shots. 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

Referenced in The Reel Thing (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Together
Written by Gary Bonner (as Garry Bonner) and Alan Gordon
Published by Alley Music Corporation and Trio Music Company, Inc.
Performed by The Turtles
Courtesy of Flo & Eddie, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Oops! Be careful. Don't step in the art!
3 June 2003 | by (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) – See all my reviews

So in this movie, Adaptation, we learn that it's all artistic to be self-referential and stuff like that. There is that screenwriter, Charlie, who's trying to adapt a novel written by some lady whose photograph he likes to masturbate to, but he really doesn't spend too much time talking about her novel at all, and that's really bold, creative and visionary. I wish I could be creative, but I don't think my brain works that way. Charlie's brain comes from a brain factory.

I remember when I was in grade school, I had to do this report on Howard Hughes, but instead of writing about Howard Hughes, I wrote down on a piece of paper about how I went to the library and couldn't find anything about Howard Hughes, and my teacher gave me an F, which shows how stupid she is. I was self-referential and artistic, and I was all, you know, exploring and chronicling the creative process of writing a paper about Howard Hughes, and that unimaginative brute stunted my creativity by giving me an F. She said I didn't do the assignment. I'm glad that the production company that hired Charlie to adapt that lady's book didn't stunt his growth just because he didn't do his assignment. In fact, if I were that lady who wrote the book, instead of seeing a movie about my book, I think I'd much rather see a movie about some bald, fat loser whacking-off to my picture, and then portraying me as a murderous crack whore. That would be art.

You can tell that Charlie's a true art guy, because all of them art guys use what they call literary devices. Like that time where Charlie employed that literary device called irony. Remember that? It was awesome. In the movie, Charlie Kaufman has a split personality. His alter ego is his twin brother, Andy Kaufman, who wrestles women and writes a screenplay, The Three, about some guy who has three distinct personalities. While Charlie is self-indulgently poking fun at formulaic thrillers like The Three, it's all *ironic* and stuff that audience members, deep down, are thinking, "Wow, I really wish I were watching The Three instead of this steaming pile of art."

Oh yeah! And then there's that one part where Kaufman doesn't have nearly the talent, ability or craftsmanship to adapt that lady's book so he slaps that fake ending on it. (And this is the genius part!) He slaps that fake ending on it - all the while pretending to lampoon the fabled vulgar, formulaic Hollywood ending - but what he's really doing is covering up for the fact that he doesn't possess the skill to pull off the adaptation. Bravo, Charles! Bravo! So now all the elitist critics can watch this incoherent mess of a movie, fling four stars at it, smugly chuckle at the great unwashed movie going masses, and congratulate themselves at being so incredibly insightful and sophisticated as to decipher the subtle subtext.

In conclusion, let me paraphrase Charlie Kaufman himself: Adaptation is self-indulgent. It's narcissistic. It's solipsistic. It's pathetic. Kaufman is pathetic. He's fat and pathetic. The reason this screenplay is self-referential is that he was too timid to speak to the woman who wrote the book. Because he's pathetic. Because he has no idea how to write. Because he can't make flowers fascinating. Because he sucks.


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