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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.

Director:

Spike Jonze

Writer:

Charlie Kaufman
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Popularity
1,695 ( 165)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 48 wins & 75 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Cusack ... Craig Schwartz
Cameron Diaz ... Lotte Schwartz
Ned Bellamy ... Derek Mantini
Eric Weinstein ... Father at Puppet Show
Madison Lanc Madison Lanc ... Daughter at Puppet Show
Octavia Spencer ... Woman in Elevator (as Octavia L. Spencer)
Mary Kay Place ... Floris
Orson Bean ... Dr. Lester
Catherine Keener ... Maxine Lund
K.K. Dodds ... Wendy
Byrne Piven Byrne Piven ... Captain Mertin
Judith Wetzell Judith Wetzell ... Tiny Woman
John Malkovich ... John Horatio Malkovich
Kevin Carroll ... Cab Driver
Willie Garson ... 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? Now you can. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 December 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Being John Malkovich See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

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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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The play that Malkovich is rehearsing on stage is William Shakespeare's "Richard III". The lines "Was ever a woman in this humour woo'd? / Was ever a woman in this humour won?" are I.ii.239-240, where Richard is gloating over his use of power, lies and crime to obtain the woman he desires, Lady Anne. This rehearsal scene is immediately followed by the first time that Craig has sex with Maxine via Malkovich. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Song of the Soul
Composed by Patrick Hawes
Courtesy of Promusic, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

What the?
4 August 2001 | by tfrizzellSee all my reviews

"Being John Malkovich". This is one of those odd little films that is near impossible to critique. A fantasy of sorts about a struggling puppeteer (John Cusack) who takes a job at a strange office where he starts to work with an odd 105-year-old boss (Orson Bean) and a beautiful, but heartless co-worker (Oscar-nominee Catherine Keener). The office itself has six-foot ceilings and is located on the seven and a half floor. The weirdness does not stop when Cusack goes home as his wife, an almost unrecognizable Cameron Diaz, is struggling working with her animals as a type of researcher and questions her own sexuality and dreams of perhaps having a sex change one day. Still with me? Cusack becomes disenchanted with Diaz and falls for the cold Keener. Meanwhile he finds a passage-way which leads to the mind of John Malkovich through the office. He tells Diaz and Keener and more confusion ensues. Diaz now is even more sexually confused and Keener comes up with a plan to make money off the discovery by charging admission to all comers who wish to see what Malkovich sees for 15 minutes. Keener falls in love with the body of Malkovich, Diaz falls in love with the possibility of being Malkovich all the time, and Cusack wants Keener at all costs. Malkovich learns of what is going on, but what can he do? Cusack discovers how he can get Keener: go into Malkovich and stay there forever. This will also launch the career in puppeteering that he so desperately wants. However, boss Orson Bean and some of his other ridiculously elderly friends have had plans the whole time to take over Malkovich's body and live forever, but Cusack's plans have gotten in the way. Now they will do whatever possible to jump into Malkovich to keep from dying. There are so many oddball situations that the viewer's head may be spinning trying to keep it all straight. There are undertones aplenty in this film. Medical cloning, lesbianism, sexual obsession, sex-change operations, sexual threesomes, the question of mind-control, physical attractions, mental deficiencies, the rights of individuals, the mad world of media, the exploration of quick money-making schemes, the exploration of relationships in the workplace, and the general disdain of individuals in the workplace are all somewhat explored subjects in "Being John Malkovich". Some subjects are subtle while others slap you in the face. In all the film is a fantasy for the 1999 crowd. The only difference is that it deals with subjects that have been or could be more prevalent to the real world. Spike Jonze shows real potential here with his direction. This was far from a easy film to put together. Charlie Kaufman must also be given kudos for a creative screenplay. It is not quite a great script, but it is definitely interesting and unique. The performers are also good. John Malkovich does well with a strange role. John Cusack continues to show real versatility. Cameron Diaz does her best, but seems a bit out-of-place in a film like this at times. Catherine Keener is the bolt of lightning that keeps everyone on their toes. Her Oscar nomination was well-deserved. There are also cameos galore (big surprise). Sean Penn and Charlie Sheen are among those who make token appearances throughout the film. Many have said that "Being John Malkovich" is a film that will mean more in the future. I am not sure about this. I doubt that it will be as trail-blazing as say "2001: A Space Odyssey". This is a unique experience that is a curiosity. The fact that it will have so many tireless imitations will not help its case either. 4 stars out of 5.


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