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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.



(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2,487 ( 393)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 60 wins & 95 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)


$22,245,861 (USA) (18 April 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TV)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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


In the beginning of the film, when John is trudging through the swamp searching for orchids, he is seen up to his armpits in water. Once out of the water, when the park enforcement officer approaches them, the water line on LaRoche's shirt is clearly seen as just above the waist - about a foot lower than the point to which he was submerged. 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

Special thanks to the guy on the bench. See more »


References True Lies (1994) See more »


One Part Lullaby
Written by John Davis, Lou Barlow and Wally Gagel
Published by Careers-BMG Music Publishing, Inc. o/b/o itself, Endless Soft Hits, Loobiecore and Blisswg Productions
Performed by The Folk Implosion
Courtesy of Interscope Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Could you be more Original?
15 March 2003 | by (Amsterdam) – See all my reviews


Charlie Kaufman might just be the most genius screenwriter (I daren't say ever) at the moment. I mean, trying to adapt a book for a screenplay, not succeeding, yet in the process writing a screenplay about how you can't seem to adapt this book for a screenplay. Oh yeah, and also being helped by your not existing twin brother, and crediting him as co-writer, and being nominatad for an Oscar together with him.

Is anyone following this?

Kaufman seems to be the master of destroying the line between reality and fiction.

I kind of have a hard time saying anything about this movie, because I don't know what to say. You should just go and say it. There's nothing like it.

If you liked Being John Malkovic you wil definitely love this. If you hated BJM you might still like it. It doesn't have the absurdity and surreality of BJM. The story is just incredibly intelligently written.

Even though the movie is about how Kaufman is unable to adapt this book, he actually succeeds in doing just that in the process.

Jesus, I'm still totally stunned.

Jonze does do a very good job once again. But the direction is just outshined by the story...

176 of 225 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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