Adaptation. (2002) Poster

(2002)

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9/10
The ending
steezo1 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I've read many of the comments regarding Adaptation, and it seems as though most people have disliked this movie because of its ending. They make claims such as, "Kaufman's script was great until the end," or, "Why did Kaufman talk about not wanting to "hollywoodize" his script, and then do it in the end anyway?"

I don't think most people understand why he did it.

Throughout the movie, Kaufman's character keeps stressing how much he doesn't want to make a "Hollywood" film. Hollywood-type films have sex, drugs, car chases, and most importantly, characters who succeed in the end. So at a glance, it seems that Kaufman goes against his inner most desires regarding the film because he does "hollywoodize" it.

But that is what I find to be the most clever part of his screenplay. To explain my point, try to imagine this-what if Kaufman did not "hollywoodize" his script? If he didn't do it, Kaufman would not have added car chases, sex, and drugs. So in a way, if this were the case, Kaufman would have succeeded. But you see, that is the point. Kaufman DID NOT want his character to succeed in the end. Like he explained throughout the movie, "I don't want to have a film...where characters succeed in the end." Thus, since Kaufman ultimately fails at his attempt to adapt Susan Orlean's book into a screenplay in how he originally intended, he delivers a screenplay that is not your normal hollywood film, i.e., a film where the protagonist prevails.

Basically, in order to make his film "un-hollywood," he "hollywoodizes" it. Can nobody see the genius of this?

Anyway, I just thought that I could offer everyone my take on the movie so that you all may perceive Kaufman's ending in a different light.
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9/10
"The script I'm starting, it's about flowers. No one's ever done a movie about flowers before."
ackstasis20 July 2007
After the phenomenal success of 'Being John Malkovich' in 1999, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman was commissioned to adapt Susan Orlean's non-fiction novel, "The Orchid Thief," for the screen. However, it didn't take long for him to realise that Orlean's book was basically unfilmable, its sprawling and ponderous story lacking any clear structure or coherence. After some months of struggling vainly to write a screenplay from the novel, Kaufman's script inexplicably became the story of a writer's effort to adapt an unadaptable novel. Kaufman's completed script was presented to his financial backers with some trepidation, but they reportedly loved it so much that they decided to abandon the original project and film his screenplay. Spike Jonze, who had also directed "Being John Malkovich," returned to direct "Adaptation," the quirky, twisting, self-referential film that received almost universal critical acclaim. Much like Federico Fellini's classic 1963 film, '8½,' from which Kaufman almost certainly drew inspiration, 'Adaptation' tells the story of its own creation.

Nicolas Cage plays Charlie Kaufman, the lonely, insecure and socially awkward screenwriter who is hired to adapt "The Orchid Thief," written by Susan Orlean, who is portrayed by Meryl Streep. The novel itself concerns the story of John Laroche (played by Chris Cooper), a smug plant dealer who was arrested in 1994 for poaching rare orchids in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. As Kaufman struggles to write the script, his troubles are compounded by the presence of his twin brother, Donald (also played by Nicolas Cage), who is Charlie's exact opposite: reckless, carefree, over-confident and perhaps even a bit dim. The script for 'Adaptation' darts back and forth between different moments in time, either chronicling Kaufman's screen writing exploits or Orlean's experiences in writing her novel. At several points in the story, more dramatic flashbacks take place: we see Charles Darwin first penning his theories of evolution and adaptation, a brief history of the grim activity of orchid-hunting, and, in one particularly impressive sequence, we are taken back billions of years to the beginning of life, to trace how Charlie Kaufman came to be here today.

Though purportedly based on a true story, the events of the film are highly fictionalised, and the story always treads a fine line with reality, with the audience never certain of whether or not an event is real (in the context of the film) or merely a creation of Charlie's (or even Donald's) imagination. Charlie Kaufman (the true-life writer, not the character) often receives most of the accolades for the film, but it is director Spike Jonze who shared the vision to execute "Adaptation" on screen. His approach to film-making is always original and daring, never tentative of trying something unique for the sake of the film, even if it may offend the tastes of an audience that is unaccustomed to anything other than the mundane clichés of the modern movies that are churned out daily by Hollywood studios. If this wasn't completely obvious after the weird, twisted, fascinating 'Being John Malkovich,' then 'Adaptation' put any lingering doubts to rest. The director, who started his career directing music videos, seems to share a singular understanding with Kaufman the writer, and a mutual agreement on what the film is actually trying to say.

In addition to a clever story, 'Adaptation' contains some of the finest acting of the 2000s, presenting an excellent selection of seasoned talents at the top of their games. In arguably the greatest role(s) of his career, Nicolas Cage is phenomenal as both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, twin brothers whose complete polarity is startlingly evident in the execution of their respective film scripts. Charlie, whilst writing his adaptation, is determined to avoid the usual clichés and construct a film without any conventional plot, to write a movie "simply about flowers." Donald, however, blissfully oblivious to his own unoriginality as a writer, churns out a hackneyed psychological thriller, entitled 'The 3,' in which the serial killer, his female hostage and the cop are the very same person. In an ironic twist of fate, Donald's trite treatment is hailed as a masterpiece, adding further to the inadequacy already being felt by his disillusioned brother. Cage is excellent, and often absolutely hilarious, as both characters, giving each brother a distinct attitude and personality, so that it is possible to tell immediately which is which even though their physical appearance is exactly the same.

Meryl Streep is equally excellent as Susan Orlean, the journalist for "The New Yorker" who researches John Laroche and endeavours to catch a glimpse of the famed and very rare Ghost Orchid, if only to understand what it feels like to be passionate about something. Chris Cooper arguably steals the entire show as the charismatic and enigmatic Laroche, whose tragedy-afflicted life is dedicated to mastering numerous obscure fields (such as orchid-collecting, or fish-collecting), each of which is sporadically cast aside and permanently forgotten as soon as he feels it's time to move on, to "adapt" to another hobby. From four Academy Award nominations, only Cooper walked away with a statue. Notably, Charlie Kaufman's screenplay was also nominated for an Oscar. Since the script was credited to both "Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman," the latter became the only entirely fictional person in history to have been nominated for an Academy Award.

In a nutshell, 'Adaptation' is all about failure. Charlie Kaufman is absolutely determined to write an original script, without cramming in "sex or guns or car chases or characters learning profound life lessons or growing or coming to like each other or overcoming obstacles to succeed in the end." However, after he eventually asks Donald to complete the script for him, it descends into exactly that. A visit to a screen-writing seminar by Robert McKee (memorably played by Brian Cox) – who is famous for warning strongly against Deus Ex Machina – is used as exactly that. Charlie Kaufman the character fails miserably in writing his script, but, ironically, Charlie Kaufman the writer succeeds ever so magnificently!
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9/10
Clever... too clever?
TheOtherFool21 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
John Laroche (an excellent, award-winning Chris Cooper) is a plant lover, specialized in orchids. Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) writes a story about it, and later a book. Charlie Kaufman (the always cool Nicholas Cage) has to adapt the book to a screenplay.

Basicly, that's the story right there. But this movie comes with so many twists, it's hard to catch up.

First of, Susan Orlean and her book really exist. As does Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine o/t Spotless Mind). In fact, Kaufman has written this movie. So Kaufman wrote a movie about Kaufman writing a movie. You get it? Then there's the fact that all storylines are happening at the same time (think The Hours). Add to that the twin brother Donald Kaufman, who's also writing some parts. Or is he...? Does he even exist at all?

The most confusing (and amusing) part is that movie-Kaufman (that's Cage) is talking about making this movie. He's telling himself 'we open with a van on the highway' and we've actually seen that part. It goes even beyond that, when we hear him talk to his recorder: 'Charlie Kaufman is talking to his recorder'. I loved that part.

But it's a movie you have to go along with. Kaufman and Jonze try desperately to be clever and they've managed to do so. It's one of the most original movies of the last ten years, but I'm sure it's not for all tastes. If you like Being John Malkovich you should probably give it a go though.

My score: 8/10.
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10/10
I get it now.
MovieAddict201626 April 2005
The first time I saw "Adaptation" I expected something else and walked away severely disappointed. As some of you out there who Private Messaged me in regards to my initial review posted on IMDb might already be aware, I originally gave it a rating of 3.5/5 stars, back when I was frequently contributing to the site. I passed on without much thought, considering it a disappointment and leaving my critique for those who cared to read it.

It remains the single comment to have generated the most feedback for me. More than "The Passion of the Christ," and more than yes, even my upsetting review of 2003's "Peter Pan" (which seemed to anger the small die-hard fanbase for the film that lurks on these message boards - by the way, I've had to clarify this sentence by adding "for the film" because someone PM'd me yesterday accusing me of implying I have a fanbase on IMDb...no, I am referring to the film's fanbase, so please hold off on the accusations). I digress. In summary I gave "Adaptation" a negative rating and to my surprise, perhaps because I avoided totally slamming the film, the fans responded to me with kind words rather than harsh ones; conceivably they too had initially taken a dislike to the film? I made a daring move. I bought "Adaptation" on DVD for ten bucks, thinking, "I've got nothing to lose." Plus, the front cover looked cool anyway.

I watched it again (after taking into mind several themes and self-referential layers I had failed to visualize before) and was blown away by the originality and genius of the movie.

My hugest complaint regarding "Adaptation," originally, was its absurd ending -- I felt it was out of place, silly, and totally anti-climactic. Little did I realize this was the point -- to be a parody of the typical Hollywood blockbuster.

There are so many underlying jokes, gags and self-references that the film grows better -- like "Back to the Future" -- on each new viewing. You're always finding new stuff.

I found new respect for Nicolas Cage as an actor after my second viewing of this. I have always liked Cage despite the criticism he receives for being a one-sided actor; here, he proves he's capable of creating two very different human beings out of the same mold. Brilliant, Oscar-worthy stuff.

All in all I got it wrong the first time. "Adaptation" isn't a film that starts out clever and descends into a messy and stupid finish. Well, actually, it is. But that's the point. I didn't get it before. Now I do.

If you disliked this film, my advice? Watch it again. It knows a bit more about itself than you probably do. And read up on the message boards here a bit to get a clearer grasp of what's going on if you're totally clueless.

P.S. I'd like to thank all the people on this site who messaged me in response to my review.
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10/10
Could you be more Original?
Kris Patmo15 March 2003
Incredible.

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...
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9/10
Adapt Your Thinking
lhseaglerunner15 January 2003
While taking a break from studying for my calculus final (a brain-draining exercise to say the least), I sat down to write out this review on what was, no doubt about it, a brain-draining movie (in an offbeat but good way). Of course I expected this from `Adaptation', for last month, in every major magazine, it has been touted as a mind-twisting ride, which piqued my interest.

Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage), by his own admission, is a loser. By my viewing, that's a fairly accurate description-if you add neurotic. Anyhow, Kaufman is a talented screenwriter, who, after writing what is his `script of a lifetime' (`Being John Malkovich), he takes on a project that is over his head-adapting Susan Orlean's (Meryl Streep) book, `The Orchid Thief' into an amazing film about flowers that will stun and amaze all.

The plot diverges here. One path follows Kaufman along the road to the inevitable breakdown of writer's block that forces him to jump from idea to idea in vain attempt to write a screenplay, until he commits the cardinal sin of screenwriting-writing himself into the script. This is not helped in the least by his hack brother Donald (Nicholas Cage) successfully working on his own script (a complete antithesis of his own).

The other road follows Orlean as she goes about writing her book three years earlier. The book is about a dentally challenged Floridian orchid thief, John Laroche (Chris Cooper), who is personable enough to cause Orlean to fall for him, his drugs, and his outside-the-law lifestyle.

As you might well imagine, this is not your usual Friday-night flick. The complexity of three separate, yet interwoven plots (Laroche the thief, Orlean writing about the thief and Kaufman writing about the writer writing about the thief) is stunning and the end, for those who will get it (I did not at first) will blow you away once it hits you…I'll give you a bit of help in knowing why the ending works later on. Oh, and Charlie (but not Donald) Kaufman, Susan Orlean, and John Laroche are all real people, which will make the film infinitely easier to understand.

Nicholas Cage is amazing. To have to carry out the performances of two different characters is certainly a feat, but to do it with such widely disparate characters like the Kaufmans is really nothing less than wondrous. Not to be outdone, Meryl Streep is superb, especially in the third act of the movie when her character becomes a more physical one. As for Cooper, well, I don't want to insult the guy, but he comes across as a redneck hick and a shyster, which is exactly what the script demanded.

All glory praise and honor for these fine actors would be for naught, had it not been for director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman (see that name before?). What they have done is simply amazing and is a tribute to their brilliance. Visually, the film does not stand out much (except for the fast-action evolution sequences that are worth their while). In short, kudos to the entire staff.

I promised earlier to give you some help in figuring out why the ending works…before I thought of this nugget of info (instead of studying anti-derivatives), the ending had me confused and slightly angry. The key to the ending is in the opening credits, in the line `Written by Charlie and Donald Kaufman'. Good luck in comprehending the ending. I give this film my first 10 of the year.
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9/10
Cage redeemed.
continuo27 July 2003
A brilliant, original film, hilariously funny almost all the way through, which is why the end seems disjointed and a bit out of sync with the rest of the film...until you consider McKee's advice to Kaufman, the success of Donald's cliched script, and the pressure on Charlie Kaufman (in the film) to finish the script. So it suddenly becomes a thriller, there's drama added to a genuinely moving story and characters, and it seems to rush towards its ending unprepared. But that's the whole postmodern element of the film - is it deliberately bad and pat (like the Player - a much lesser film that doesn't stand up after repeated viewing)?

Anyway, Cage is fantastic in this - really if the Oscars were about acting, he should have got it for articulating two characters brilliantly. After the mess of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, it's some achievement.

A must see - but you need to engage your brain for this!
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10/10
A Guide on "How To Write A Screenplay" and "How to Live Life"…
Sergeant_Tibbs12 May 2007
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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8/10
Plot Construction as Protagonist--but what a fascinating construct. Pure brain food.
secondtake16 October 2009
Adaptation (2002)

I adapted. I evolved. My second take on this movie was a turnaround from the first, when I thought it was needlessly complicated and self-absorbed. After all, the lead character is the screenwriter, and he's so full of himself and his self-pitying diary entries he has an identical twin to double the narcissism. I remembered enjoying it, but thinking it wheedling and grad school ultra-clever, too.

But that's not it at all. This is a movie that is all about plot construction but not about being inside the plot in the normal viewer-filmmaker way. For me, I couldn't just watch to see what was going to happen next. Things happen, there is a true climax of an ending, but it's how they happen that matters. The layering of time frames is paralleled by the layering of realities--until you realize that it's all real, and that the supposed movie being written is and isn't the movie we are watching. Or if it is, totally, and we see it's genesis on screen, it is still a screenplay about something real. Or not, once you see that the book, "The Orchid Thief," which is a real book by Susan Orlean, is not "Adaptation" at all, but just a thread for Kaufman to weave these different personalities and plots together.

Fiction or fact, who cares? Well, that's part of the film's cunning--there's even a cameo of John Malkovich at the start, and a shot of that famous Being John Malkovich set of the half sized floor 7 ½ in an office building. And for the record, there is a Ghost Orchid that grows in the Everglades, Polyrrhiza lindenii, and yes, you can now buy it legally from growers with greenhouses. But Charles Kaufman the very real screenwriter (Being John Malkovich, of course, and Synecdoche, New York) is played by an actor, Nicholas Cage, with Cage's usual nervous ticks and uneasiness. Perfect for this role.

But does it all work? On the brain, yes. It's fascinating and engrossing, the work of a screenwriter showing off his chops. Is there suspense? Not really, even though it involves thieves and guns and romance. More telling, do we care about the characters? Nope again. Not for me. I'm curious about these people--Meryl Streep as the writer of the book, and Chris Cooper as the orchid thief are both right on--but not worried about their survival, in love or in life. Still, I had to see every minute because I wanted to see how these very disparate characters were used to construct the construction, to force a point.

To say the movie isn't original or well done is foolish. The director? The redoubtable Spike Jonze, who seems to have let Kaufman lead the way, so the filming, per se, is excellent without being notable. You can't quite tell he's a television commercial director, but once you find that out it makes sense, and the movie is broken into short pieces not unlike your average t.v. experience.

To say Adaptation isn't to your taste is, of course, very reasonable. But if you can watch it the way I did the second time, open to its inner meanderings and the jumping from layer to layer, open that is to the working of the narrative plot stripped bare, you'll be glued.
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10/10
I had a smirk on my face the whole time, well, not the whole time, you'll see.
Johnson_Roger12 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I had the pleasure of seeing Adaptation earlier this evening. Basic, Non-Spoiler review: Interesting Movie, despite what some say it is the most original screenplay of last year, and great acting on all counts. I haven't liked Cage this much since Raising Arizona, and I actually wanted to bang Streep at one point in the film.

By the way, this film does feature two of the most realistic and violent car crashes I've seen in a movie theater, which is why I wasn't smirking the whole time. Great effect, but damn if I'll be driving with out wearing my seatbelt for the next 50 years.

Anyway, time for spoilers... I'll head down a bit, but don't say I didn't warn you.





Okay, still here? Too bad, here we go.

I want to read this script. I've got a group of guys I went to High School with, and we're all into something film related at this point. One wants to be a director/writer, the other an editor, and there's a character actor in there as well. I like to consider myself a writer, but let's face it, I'm dumb. Anyway, I dubbed myself the Jerry Bruckheimer of the group because I like big fancy action scenes and crap like that.

I'm Donald Kaufman.

On the print I saw, and I'm not sure if anyone else's did this because I've only seen the film once mind you, but when Charlie calls Donald to ask him to come to New York, it looks like the film stock or filter completely changes. That's where Donald starts writing the movie, in my opinion. Sure, Charlie gets in little bits of him here and there, but from that point on it's Donald.

The spying, the drugs, the car chase, the romp in the swamp, gunplay, the turning of Cooper and Streep's characters into villains when they're anything but... Hell, it turned into a nightmarish Hardy Boys Adventure. I could almost read the phrase "SUDDENLY!: An alligator attacks Laroche!". Ah. Sure, it's a bit pompous but hey, that last 30 odd minutes is one big joke on piss poor writers, like myself.

Here's hoping Kaufman's next movie is "THE THREE", some could argue that the end result of this movie is "The Three", but come on-- Who wouldn't enjoy that idiotic story?
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7/10
Writer becomes anti-anti-hero writing about anti-hero
Melisande Rupert1 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Clever. This movie is clever, sometimes stepping over into precious. But if being overly precious is not high on your list of movie flaws (there are so many others), this movie may appeal to you, as it did to me. If you're into semiotics, deconstruction, frame analysis or that kind of thing, there are some nice little jokes you'll enjoy.

For anyone who has ever seriously pursued a creative vocation, especially writing, this movie will appeal. If you are the kind of person who has gone to expensive seminars, hoping (along with hundreds of others) to transform your craft or your life, this movie will make you laugh.

It is about a screenwriter who is trying to write something original, in a day and age when everything has been done so many times, even originality seems to have become clichéd. He has a further problem, which is that he can't get out of his own head. And he is neurotic. He is hired by a major motion picture studio to do something almost impossible: write an adaptation of a non-fiction book about orchids so that it can be a regular Hollywood film. It sounds like a stupid thing for a studio to hire a writer to do, but of course, that's exactly what the Studio did with this film. Adaptation is based on the work of New Yorker writer, Susan Orlean. She is played by Meryl Streep in the movie. The real life Susan Orlean had her scenes cut out of the movie (she also wrote the magazine article, `Surf Girls of Maui,' on which the film, Blue Crush was based).

While Charlie Kaufman (the screenwriter for Being John Malkovich) struggles with the increasingly impossible task of finishing a script about weirdos and orchids, his brother, Donald, decides to take up screenwriting. Donald isn't writing an adaptation, he's writing an original screenplay. Charlie thinks he knows everything about writing, Donald goes to a screenwriting seminar and posts the teacher's `Ten Commandments of Screenwriting' above his laptop. Charlie pecks away on some old manual typewriter. We've seen it all before: sibling rivalry, identical twins who are opposites, so on and so forth. We think we know the ending, as long as Charlie is writing it. Somehow, despite Charlie's quest for originality, nothing very original transpires. Some folks, at this point in the movie, will understandably get bored to tears. Charlie just gets more neurotic and self-absorbed. In fact, the only thing he can write about is himself, so he writes himself into the orchid movie.

I guess things pick up at the end. Someone else has said the characters get `weird.' While I disliked myself as I fell for the Hollywood-style manipulation that the ending appeared to be, still, I woke up and was squirming in my seat. Charlie attends the writing seminar, and learns to do `research.' Thus liberated from the plotless constraints of the work he's supposed to be adapting, Charlie can write a different kind of movie. Research, apparently, can lead anywhere.

The thing is, I cared – a lot – about the various characters. I liked John and Donald best, Susan and Charlie were rather boring and neurotic. The contrast drove the movie. Do we all want to be interesting creatures of Hollywood then? Or are we just human beings, adapting to our own predictable life circumstances by preferring stories with oomph and characters with style? Chris Cooper's performance as John LaRoche was something I'd never seen before on the screen. That's always a reason to make a movie. The character and the performance were original, the actors were in first place all along. The screenplay ultimately served the studio, the actors, the cinematographer, the director and even the prop department extraordinarily well…but, perhaps, screenwriters don't come out looking so heroic.
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Cleverness without soul
tieman6420 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"In Modernism, reality used to validate media. In Postmodernism, media validates reality." - Brad Holland

In real life, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman was commissioned to write a screenplay based on journalist Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Thief". This novel (and the 1994 New Yorker magazine article upon which it was based) told the story of an orchid thief called John Laroche, his arrest for poaching a rare orchid and the subsequent relationship he develops with Susan Orlean.

Unable to adapt "The Orchid Thief", and struggling to compress the novel down to a filmable form, Kaufman eventually gave up and instead decided to write a script based on how much trouble he was having adapting the book. In the film based on this script, now titled "Adaptation" and directed by Spike Jonze, Larouch is played by Chris Cooper, Orlean is played by Meryl Streep, and actor Nicholas Cage plays a slightly more neurotic version of the neurotic Charlie Kaufman. Overcome by self-loathing and existential angst, Cage/Kaufman is not only constantly berating himself for being bald, fat, socially inept and incompetent, but constantly moaning about how difficult adapting Orlean's book is.

Why is the book so difficult to adapt? Because, Cage/Kaufman says, "it is real". The book's dramatic arcs aren't resolved, there is no central theme and, like real life, its character's don't learn anything, grow or change. Yes, the novel contains sizable patches of poetic musing and beautiful existential ruminations, but while these are of high literary quality, Kaufman believes they cannot be translated to film.

And so what Kaufman and his Nicholas Cage avatar decide they need is a central theme. A common thread to hold everything together. His answer: postmodern self-reference. In other words, the theme of the film is the act of writing the film.

And that's where the title of the film comes in. "Adaptation" refers not only to the act of adapting a screenplay from a novel, but a sort of evolutionary adaptation where organisms, humans and artists constantly bend to survive. And so the film is one big Darwinian family tree, life adapting into article, article adapting into novel, novel adapting into screenplay, screenplay adapting into movie. And along this artistic evolutionary process there are external forces that mutate, for good and bad, the thread of the original idea.

Because the adaptation of one "story" into a "next" is too smug and simplistic for Kaufman (his character states this himself in the film), he tries to envelope other characters into this theme. And so the entire cast of the film is adapting to their surroundings, switching jobs, turning their backs to previous lives, careers or roles and learning to restart and re-adapt to new situations. To emphasise this theme, Kaufman has one character listening to a tape of Darwin's "On the Origins of Species", the sequel to which (not mentioned in the film) was Darwin's "Fertilisation of Orchids", a book which explored the complex relationship between insects and plants and the way they slowly adapt to one another.

Unexpectedly, Jonze keeps a tight reign on Kaufman's wild imagination. The film is zany, but because it is filmed in a rather low-key style, never degenerates into quirky surrealism and easy irony. Gradually, however, we become aware that the scenes between Cooper and Streep are easily the movie's most engaging and insightful, and the observations attributed to or taken from Orlean's book are more provocative than any of the meta-ironic musings generated by Kaufman.

Elsewhere Jonze provides the audience with glimpses of Orlean's book (via narration) as Cage obsessively reads through it, and even has Kaufman's character commenting on how brilliant Orlean's writing is. The effect is such that the film celebrates the book, whilst admitting that nothing it does can convey or compete with its insights. This results in a rather schizoid film, half of the film great, possessing the insights of a talented writer and journalist, the other half drowned in Kaufman's postmodern meta-gymnastics and gloomy self-loathing. In other words, Orlean is sensitive and perceptive about human behaviour, whilst Kaufman is mockingly irreverent.

How to end such a schizoid film? Kaufman, in real life, has no idea. And so he has his Cage avatar wrestle with this problem and then seek advice from a screen writing expert. The eventual solution: Kaufman invents a twin brother named Donald who's identical to him physically but 100% his opposite intellectually. Easygoing, unpretentious and entirely void of originality, Donald decides he wants to be a screenwriter too and the lion's share of the film's comedy arises from Cage's derision of his brother's ideas.

And so Donald quickly becomes the kind of easy target the director Robert Altman served up at the end of "The Player". Kaufman moulds him into a symbol for everything derivative and dumb about mainstream filmmaking – a love for serial killers, multiple personality plot lines, sex, gunfights, murder, drugs, car chases etc – but his real function is to inject nihilism into the actual form of the film. Donald, and his cosmically random death, is the catalyst which terminates the entire story, the film self-consciously using a "cop out" ending in which Orlean and Cooper become villains who kill everyone and dramatically end the narrative.

This last act of the film thus serves three functions: it's a dumb and derivative parody which hypocritically mocks that which it embraces, it's a self-referential deus ex machina used to arbitrarily end the film, and, more importantly, it's an admittance that Orlean's book is so "real" and "true" that it can not "begin" on film let alone "end", which is itself a sort of artistic defeatism.

7.9/10 – Excellent at times, but also insufferably postmodern, vapid, and with little understanding of real artists, real people and the artistic process itself. Worth one viewing.
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8/10
actors & director create startling and original film
clevernamehere4 December 2002
"Adaptation" is an off-the-wall film with a startling second half. Overall, the film is darkly comic, but viewers get an unexpected dose of movie action and violence before everything is said and done.

It's fair to say that there is a fair amount of violence in the film, and even when you know it's coming, you're still caught off guard. Spike Jonze is merciless in this regard. Some of the scenes are incredibly graphic, in fact.

There is a certain adolescent male tone to the film (the violence + sexual fantasy + masturbation). This is partially due to characterization and partially due to the director's own aesthetic and perspective. It's not a bad thing, necessarily, either. It just feels as if an unassuming (white male) kid who grew up thinking a lot about girls and watching movies where stuff blowed up made this film... See it and you'll know what I'm saying.

The script is crazy. Absolutely zany. Akin to "Being John Malkovich" really. Fortunately, this well gives opportunity for Nic Cage, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper to really be free with their art.

Cage has a difficult role, portraying two very different identical twin brothers. Cage is at the emotional core of the film. If his performance doesn't resonate, the film doesn't work. I thought Cage was excellent. And that the script really gives him some wonderful, challenging material to work with. His first scene with Tilda Swinton (looking gorgeous!) is excellent.

Meryl Streep...well, what can be said. She's fantastic. She exudes a tiredness and connectedness and hopelessness and sadness, evolving the character brilliantly over the course of the film.

Similarly, Chris Cooper brings a humanity to the role of the Orchad Thief, really grounding the narrative and making it all believable. Again, he's given a brilliant opening scene and he works wonders with it. Throughout, he is believably arrogant, lonely, vulnerable, and just plain real. Cooper's performance is as rich as any other I've seen this year; truly, truly sublime.

"Adaptation" is certainly not for everyone. If you're looking for something starkly different and simmering with originality, give this film a try, though. Amidst some cloying self-referential clap-trap, there are actually some really freshing film moments.
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For me, it's uniqueness was both it's making and it's undoing
bob the moo5 October 2003
Following his success as screenwriter for 'Being John Malcovich', Charlie Kaufman is given the job of adapting Susan Orlean's book 'The Orchid Thief' which she expanded from a piece in The New Yorker that she wrote on the obsessive orchid hunter John Laroche. While Charlie struggles to adapt the book into a workable film, his twin brother, Donald, writes a successful script around serial killers. The more Charlie struggles to get a story from the book the more the stories and his life start to intertwine.

I wanted to see this film because I had enjoyed BJM and was interested to see what Jonze did next. I came to it with a vague knowledge of the plot but nowhere near enough o have expectations. For the majority of the film, the different style and presentation kept me deeply interested. The way the different stories occurred in different times and places worked a lot better than I would have expected it to. The plot gets increasingly difficult to follow and you'll get as much as you want from it. For those just looking for a simple story then you'll have a nice neat resolution, if you want more then more is there for you as you try to work out what part of the film is real and what part isn't.

I came away with mixed feelings. I felt that the ending was not as clever as it thought it was and didn't give a good ending for those who weren't happy to accept things at face value. I didn't feel let down I just felt that the last section of the film stepped down a gear rather than up. I know that this is the point that Jonze was making perhaps, by allowing Donald's derided ending come to live and be the replacement for Charlie's original aim. But it didn't totally do it for me. Up till this section I was hooked and felt that the various stories all worked to form a mix of drama and comedy. However the end does a disservice to it's characters.

Cage shows that the recent cr*p he has been in doesn't mean he can't act (just that he doesn't). He really brings his two characters to life and plays them so well that it is easy to forget that it is the same person in both roles. Cooper is wonderful and deserved his Oscar for support. Streep, as much as I dislike her, was very good and brought that difficult character out – although I did feel she was the one most betrayed by the film's end.

Overall this was an interesting film that worked in most areas. It's difference and it's inventiveness were such that I wanted to keep watching. However I, and I know others will disagree, felt that this uniqueness was not well served by the end of the film. I understand that it was not meant to exist in the same way as the majority of the film but I still felt that the ending didn't meet the standard set by the rest of the film.
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1/10
Self-Referential, Narcissistic, Crap = High Art = Adaptation
Tommy Williamson20 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
After watching this movie, what feels like 100 times, I regretfully have to say: I have nothing to say. It's unfortunate for me to admit, but nothing in this movie really sticks out as critique worthy. Some might want me to point out the "confusing" plot; however, I didn't find it confusing at all. I've seen more plot twists in a half-hour television show. I mean, sure the whole idea of taking a writer who is having writer's block write a script about himself writing a script about himself writing a script might confuse some people, I never got lost in the multiple layers of "reality".

The characters in this, while based (somewhat) on real life, were entertaining; I feel like the story hinged too much on the people involved and not enough on what was happening. Aside from the masturbation, drugs, and sex, these characters are little more than cardboard cut outs of stereotypical characters we see in everything else! (exception: John Laroche).

Character 1) Charlie Kaufman = Self-loathing screenwriter with writer's block commissioned to write a script over a book that doesn't have a story.

ENTER Character 2) Donald Kaufman = The Outgoing, reckless, bum TWIN BROTHER of Charlie. (While I can appreciate the fact that Donald isn't real, and was fabricated by the "REAL" Charlie Kaufman to help move the plot along in HIS script, it's sloppy and not creative in the least).

ENTER Character 3) Susan Orlean = Dissatisfied wife, writer, pulled into the life of a much more interesting person - thus falling in love with...

Character 4) John Laroche = "...tall guy, skinny as a stick, pale eyes, slouch-shouldered, sharply handsome, despite the fact he's missing all his front teeth." - the Only interesting and "original" character based on a REAL person.

I mean really, Characters 1-3 can be swapped out with any character from any other bland Comedy-Drama film. At first viewing, yes I loved the movie, but after watching it again... and again... and again... I found that while some might find the movie as very creative, I found it extremely pretentious in the fact that it builds itself up on the basis of writing a self-referential script about a self-referential script. Narcissistic? Maybe. Annoying? With out a doubt.

Add to that, the extremely slow pace of this movie and you have Adaptation. By the middle of the movie, you feel worn out and sick of seeing Nicholas Cage's face, this being said by a fan of Nick Cage. But seriously, the movie couldn't move any slower, taking time to point out all the things that AREN'T happening.

BUT THEN, we get to the end where all of the sudden Susan and John are doing drugs and having sex and trying to kill Charlie, and shoot Don, and wreck the car into a park ranger, flinging Don out killing him, Prompting Charlie to sing "Happy Together", ending with Charlie writing a script about himself trying to write the script!

In the end, we get what is called by many-a-film-critic as "High Art" and "Clever". While all I saw was a writer's attempt at writing a script over a movie, but FAILING and writing about himself instead. Sorry folks, but I genuinely hated this movie. And would strongly recommend everyone who hasn't seen it to go buy/rent "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" instead (ESotSM, being equally pretentious and depressing, but having Jim Carry who somehow makes you laugh WHILE you cry).

In a summary, I thought the movie was crap.
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From portals to orchids, Jonze and Kauffman strike again
rivetbadtz9 January 2003
Three years after director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kauffman's brilliantly offbeat masterpiece Being John Malkovich, comes their latest stream of conscious head trip. Yes folks, this one stars Nicholas Cage...and, Nicholas Cage.

The film starts off appropriately enough inside Being John Malkovich(or more precisely on the set of Being John Malkovich when Malkovich is inside his own head) But this is no sequel...no no, much more than that. We soon go back to the beginning. Not the beginning of the movie, but to the beginning of it all. To the dawn of the universe, a zero in the fabric of time itself hurling toward the deep chasm of entropy. From the primitive scribblings of early man to the manic late night scribblings of the neurotic Charlie Kauffman(played by Cage)

What we have here is a film about orchid thieves, high society New York socialites, screenwriters, identical twins, crocodiles, narcotic rings, and internet porn...err, more aptly put: a movie about a guy writing a movie about a book inside of another movie. Oh yeah, and it's based on a true story. Sound confusing?

Adaptation is the screen treatment of the best selling non fiction book The Orchid Thief. Only thing is the main character in the film is doing the adapting, and writing himself into script. In the film we go from early primordial man to Being John Malkovich's floor seven and a half...and somehow it all makes sense.

Is this an incoherent parable on the parasitic relationship between writers and their subjects? The evolution from single cell organisms to paleolithic glee? Or a look at how everything seems to have a purpose in life? Somehow between the obscure Hollywood industry injokes, Silence of the Lambs references, and celebrity Boggle tournaments I missed something.

Unfortunately by the third act(when the movie goes from non fiction to fiction) Adaptation unravels and ends up gravely falling apart. But perhaps that is the point. A film about a real life struggle to adapt a book that doesnt have much suspense in it, and the peril of trying to work some fictional thriller plotlines in at the last minute. Either way, hats off to Jonze and Kauffman for once again bringing us an audaciously unconventional idea and tearing down the box. All this from the adaptive skills of an orchid.

~.c//0ry
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3/10
The Screenwriter Has No Clothes
TooShortforThatGesture23 February 2003
Oy. Where to begin?

Some stray thoughts jumbled in my head:

self-indulgent, not intelligent enough to support the degree to which it is pretentious, tedious, unfunny, solipsistic (and yes, I know that's part of the "joke" but it's not funny, just dull), empty-headed, gimmicky, Nicholas Cage?????, "insider"-y, lazy. In many ways, I think "Adaptation" feels like a bad "Saturday Night Live" sketch stretched to 2 hours.

I understand the inside jokes, the ironic commentary on the Industry, the satire, the sarcasm, etc etc etc. I understand which parts of the film must be fantasy, which parts may be fantasy, etc etc. But there was just nothing there I cared about and I don't think any statement on the film business or writing being made had any substance to it. The whole thing felt thin and tired. It's not deep enough to be taken seriously, not over-the-top enough to be considered zany fun and doesn't have the emotional power to touch our souls. It doesn't even mix these elements. It's like a big cold pile of half-eaten mashed potatoes sitting on a dirty plate.

I must admit I admire Charlie Kaufman for having the chutzpah to present this script in lieu of the project he was hired to write and in getting a producer to pay him for it. But the entire premise seems little more than a schoolboyish trick of trying to get away with failing to write a paper by writing a paper about why you couldn't do the assigned paper -- and hoping it will prove a sufficently amusing ruse to charm your teacher into not failing you.

Mr. Kaufman seems to be trying to build a career on cute gimmicks. Sadly, this being Hollywood --- and America --- he will probably get away with it for years to come. Both with"Being John Malkovich" and with "Adaptation" the audiences seem to spend so much time being impressed by a mildly interesting premise that they don't bother to worry -- or even think -- about whether it's a premise that supports (or warrants) an entire feature film. The only real joke here is one that can only be enjoyed by Mr. Kaufman, who's gotten an Academy Award nomination for what should probably have been treated as a breach of contract.

The uselessness of the film notwithstanding, Chris Cooper gives a great performance and Meryl Steep does a very good job. Nicholas Cage overplays both of his parts and, frankly, creates a character that I think is completely unsympathetic (in other words, he does his usual work.) Does anyone really care by the end what happens to him or to his brother? In the last 15 minutes of the movie, my thinking was, "I think what should happen next is whatever will get this movie ended the quickest."

In terms of awards: Best Scam. (And I admit to being frustrated by the fact that Mr. Kaufman would probably be happy with that.)
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1/10
Absolutley... BORING
Kristine8 August 2004
I'm sorry, but I have tried to watch this film twice. Both times I just wanted to quit with the movie. I read the back of the cover and all it says is "GREAT PERFORMANCES!". Etc, etc, etc. As much as I love Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper, their performances in the film, I have to say were pretty average. Not their best attempts. The only one that I'd have to say was the best was by Nicolas. He seemed like he was very into his character. But the movie, despite being only 2 hours, felt like it was 3. I just couldn't believe that anyone else couldn't find this movie to be boring. How it could be on the top 250. It's trying to be another "American Beauty", and it failed. Sorry to those who enjoyed the film, but I have to say it was horrible.

1/10
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10/10
Genius
jonsefcik12 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The first time I watched this movie, I thought "this is either pretentious garbage or pure genius". After letting it sink in for a few days, I thought about it and certain pieces started fitting together. I decided to give it a second watch, and afterwards I was like "oh of course, its genius".

I think a lot of people who criticize this film don't understand what the film is going for. I'll try not to spoil anything, but I left a disclaimer since I'll be roughly outlining the plot. A common criticism I see is that the film tries to reject the Hollywood screen writing clichés but chickens out at the end for a dumb action-packed climax. Here's the thing: The film uses the 3-act structure in an ironic way. The film is about the writing of the film. Early on in the film, Charlie Kaufman (the character, not the real person) is trying to stay faithful to the source material he's given to adapt. The source material is The Orchid Thief, a nonlinear book that doesn't really follow a typical 3-act structure. When he experiences writer's block, he asks his twin brother, who went to a screen writing seminar, for help. He even goes to the screen writing seminar himself. Every piece of advice he gets makes the script more formulated, and thus so does the film. It should be fairly obvious once we see Susan Orlean (the character, not the real person) snorting plant drugs and fornicating with John Laroche (the character) that fiction has taken over. That's also why Charlie and Donald follow her to Florida, and crazy stuff involving guns and an alligator ensues. The film's ending works on multiple levels. It can be enjoyed by the average moviegoer as a dumb fun climax but more discerning viewers will be in on the joke.

One thing I want to bring up before I wrap up is Nicolas Cage's performance as the fictional Charlie Kaufman. At first I thought "oh come on, there's no way anyone is that insecure and submissive" but then I saw videos of interviews with the real Charlie Kaufman and was like "oh wow, Nick Cage nailed it". Its not an exact recreation, but it definitely works as a fictional portrayal.

There's more details I'll leave for you to discover on your own. All you have to know is this is a very clever film and serves as a great satire of Hollywood tropes. Personally, I think this movie is perfect, and there's nothing I would change that I could imagine making the film objectively better. Charlie Kaufman is one of the most fascinating screenwriters working in Hollywood today and I'd say all of his films are worth a watch!
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1/10
Rot, posing as depth
rod-ruger1 July 2012
Movies that jump around in time seem automatically to be interesting or deep or complex or some such rot to many people. Cage plays a loser. Deeper thinkers will explain that he's interestingly depressed, socially inept, whatever...he's a dip. Notwithstanding that his character supposedly wrote a good screen-play, he becomes immediately tiresome. Not funny, not pitiable, not dramatic...boring. The movie is dull, start to finish, being so by violating the admonitions of a screen-writer "consultant" who, for some reason, appears in the movie.

If you must see this junk piece, borrow it from the library or watch it on Netflix. Even for "free" you will have wasted nearly two hours of your life. The cover on the DVD speaks of hilarious comedy and "something good" drama. There was none of either, a waste of Streep,and far too much of Cage.
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1/10
Oops! Be careful. Don't step in the art!
PraetorOctavius3 June 2003
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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Abject Folding
tedg20 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I am writing a book about `folding' in film. That's a term I have coined to describe all the parallel levels that have become part of the film vocabulary, among them self-reference, reflection, self-aware irony and timeshifting. I love these films. They are always about ideas and many are incredibly sophisticated in concept, even though the story (an incidental component in such projects) may be uninteresting. There are an amazing number of films with some sort of folding -- in my nearly 1,000 IMDB comments, I have found about a third that use these tricks.

The most obvious are films that are about their own making, like `The Muppet Movie,' `Beyond the Clouds,' and `The Player.' But here we have something new, I think. In this case, the folding is not a technique in the film, it is the star of the film. Several types of folding are used here: time overlaps, self-reference, ironic distance, nested narratives (a metamovie about a movie about a book about a magazine article about a botanical scam) where the nesting is scrambled.

Along the way, we have not only a surrogate for the writer (and the writer he is writing about) but a imaginary twin who comments on the writing process.

I really enjoyed this as an intellectual exercise; the clever barrage of tricks was impressive. But it is an elaborate but empty shell. Nic Cage has always been an actor that is incapable of spanning levels (like Penn or Depp or Brando or quite a few of our actresses today). Streep is a master at this sort of thing, in fact set the gold standard for folded acting with `The French Lieutenant's Woman.' But she is asked to be as flat as Cage is. Cooper is fantastic of course, but is only a fantastic cartoon.

I found it unsatisfying when elevated to the level of Tarantino-like self-referential humor, all except for one bit: the folding in of the masturbatory fantasies at the same level as everything else. Just think about this; there's a powerful force acting both ways between the creator and the created, between the writer and character. Here at the same level is the VERY SAME equivalence with fantastic sexual compliance. That one part with the redheaded waitress, Alice, behind the orchid show was shocking -- shocking because of this equivalence. Not even Lynch does this.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching.
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1/10
Desperately disappointing
jsm_london_uk1 March 2003
I went to see Adaptation with high hopes. They were all dashed. About 40 minutes in, the Charlie Kaufman character describes his screenplay as self-indulgent, narcissistic, solipsistic and pathetic, which sums up my feelings about the film pretty neatly.

But although the film itself is bad enough, the ending is worse. The only worthwhile moral I could draw from this vastly over-blown effort (it lasts almost two hours) is Don't Ride in a Car Without Wearing a Seatbelt. As a road safety film, it's first rate. Otherwise, it's well worth steering clear off.
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Write what you know is true - Hollywood always wins
Dr. Gore20 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
*SPOILER ALERT* *SPOILER ALERT*

Protagonist. Conflict. (Wedge in a love story). Character arc. Climax! Denouement. Three acts. End with a whopper and you got them. You can fight it but there's only one way to write a screenplay. Well, one way to write a screenplay that will sell, sell, and sell! Hollywood wins every time.

"Adaptation" is about admitting defeat and still winning. Kaufman is right. There is no way to make a movie about a guy who steals flowers. But then again, there is a way. I know because I just watched it. It was called "Adaptation". Throw in some flower drugs, a car crash...ooohh, car crashes are cool...and sex. Don't forget about sex. Never forget about sex. When people are watching a movie, they are not having sex. But it's always good to remind the audience about the good times. Wrap it all up with some self loathing and a flower thief and you've got a Green Light on that picture!

So the struggle to stay true to the book/yourself/art collides head on with the reality of movie making. What does the audience want to see? What's hot this week? Who knows? How about a movie about a writer who can't write? Brilliant! Wedge a love story in and it can't lose.

If you like flicks about Hollywood and the creative process, you'll like this movie. Oh, and Kaufman's agent, (Ron Livingston), cracked me up. He knew the perfect icebreaking line to ease the tension.
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1/10
Good Grief!
mschrock30 May 2003
Go back, it's a trap! First off, this is somehow classified as a comedy. Pardon me. Not only was it a lame "adaptation" of what might have been a movie, but it's certainly NOT a comedy. Good Grief!

This is the first time I tried to enter a negative number for a rating. I find that IMDB.com won't accept that. Guess I'll elevate it to a "1".

Can't say I'm a fan of Nicolas Cage, but I certainly am a fan of Meryl Streep! She needs to check with her agent after this one. What the heck is she doing in here? Talk about a waste of talent! Good Grief.

If you already blew your $5. on renting this movie, and you're wading thru the everglades with this impressive cast, thinking that most critics, including Roger Ebert, have blessed this effort, DON'T expect things to pick up.....they indeed can get worse.

This is a junior-high written venture about a screenwriter whose dog ate his script, and had to dream up something on the way to school. Good Grief. Negative 10!
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