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Being John Malkovich (1999)

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A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of movie star John Malkovich.

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2,488 ( 32)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 48 wins & 75 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Craig Schwartz
... Lotte Schwartz
... Derek Mantini
... Father at Puppet Show
Madison Lanc ... Daughter at Puppet Show
... Woman in Elevator (as Octavia L. Spencer)
... Floris
... Dr. Lester
... Maxine Lund
... Wendy
Byrne Piven ... Captain Mertin
Judith Wetzell ... Tiny Woman
... John Horatio Malkovich
... Cab Driver
... Guy in Restaurant
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Storyline

Puppeteer Craig Schwartz and animal lover and pet store clerk Lotte Schwartz are just going through the motions of their marriage. Despite not being able to earn a living solely through puppeteering, Craig loves his profession as it allows him to inhabit the skin of others. He begins to take the ability to inhabit the skin of others to the next level when he is forced to take a job as a file clerk for the off-kilter LesterCorp, located on the five-foot tall 7½ floor of a Manhattan office building. Behind one of the filing cabinets in his work area, Craig finds a hidden door which he learns is a portal into the mind of John Malkovich, the visit through the portal which lasts fifteen minutes after which the person is spit into a ditch next to the New Jersey Turnpike. Craig is fascinated by the meaning of life associated with this finding. Lotte's trips through the portal make her evaluate her own self. And the confident Maxine Lund, one of Craig's co-workers who he tells about the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Ever Wanted To Be Someone Else? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 December 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Biti John Malkovich  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$637,721, 31 October 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$22,858,926, 7 May 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Willie Garson (Guy in Restaurant) improvised the scene where he encounters John Malkovich and says, "You were really great in that movie where you play that retard." According to Garson, director Spike Jonze had instructed Garson to use the word "retard" as many times as he could. See more »

Goofs

When Elijah the chimp lets Lotte out of the cage, he jumps out leaving the checked blanket all messed up. On the last shot of the scene the blanket is straightened out. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lotte Schwartz: Craig, honey, it's time for bed.
[fade out and in]
Orrin Hatch the bird: Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up, Craig, honey, time to get up,
Craig Schwartz: Lotte...
Lotte Schwartz: I'm sorry. I didn't know Orrin Hatch was out of his cage.
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Crazy Credits

at the end of the cast listing is noted ...and John Malkovich See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Mother's Day 2010 (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Documentary Music
Written by Les Hooper
Performed by Les Hooper
Courtesy of Hooperman Music
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Absolutely sublime modern classic
5 July 2005 | by See all my reviews

Originality is one thing that I very much admire in cinema, and it's also the reason I rate Being John Malkovich so highly. Charlie Kaufman has taken an amazingly weird premise and twisted round a suitably offbeat story to create a movie that is as bizarre as it is as it is compelling, and it's definitely a major highlight of American cinema in the 1990's. Charlie Kaufman may have scripted his most acclaimed film in 2004 with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but if you want to see his best work - you need look no further than his first feature. Quite how anyone could have thought of this premise remains a mystery, but I'm certainly glad that Kaufman did. The story revolves around a portal that leads directly into the head of the actor, John Malkovich. After discovering this portal, puppeteer Craig Schwartz shares it with his colleague and crush, the beautiful Maxine Lund. Things start to get complicated when Craig's wife, Lottie, becomes involved and it turns out that Craig's not the only one with a crush on Maxine.

The usually presentable John Cusack and Cameron Diaz are completely unrecognisable as this film's leading couple and both give career highlight performances. Catherine Keener fleshes out a threesome of leads. She is seductively sexy, and delivers a performance that reflects the quality of this film on the whole. And, of course, John Malkovich stars also. The fact that it's John Malkovich who is the title actor is what really makes this film. Had the film have been, say, 'Being Tom Cruise'; it wouldn't have had nearly the same impact. Malkovich is a big actor, but he's not THAT big and the fact that it's him takes the film away from the mainstream and allows it's offbeat indie roots to stay intact. Kaufman ensures that the story works by constantly adding new and weird events into the plot, and this in turn ensures that we never know what's coming next. Of course, this is exactly what you want from any film. The elements of the story aren't bound tightly enough to really make a lasting impression where substance is concerned; but it hardly matters, as there's enough offbeat invention in this film to more than adequately mask that fact It's easy to call this movie pretentious or silly; but it's also pointless. Being John Malkovich is a modern classic.


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