Many Hollywood actors have a very specific role that they can do very well, and sometimes they become typecast and never play anything but that one type of character. This is most commonly seen in the comedy scene, because a comedians and people of the like will be cast in a movie and their actual acting talent is questionable. Then there are people like Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love and Will Ferrell in this film, Stranger Than Fiction, who land a role with a serious tone and really surprise you with their performances.
Stranger Than Fiction is the story of Harold Crick, played by Farrell, an IRS agent and the most average person you can probably think of. He brushes all of his teeth the same amount of times, ties his tie the same way every time, and runs the same pace to catch his bus at the same time every morning for work. The film has a narrator telling you all of these things, and one morning, Harold himself hears this woman narrating his life. She continues day after day, and Harold seeks the help of literature professor Jules Hilbert, played by Dustin Hoffman, to find out what is happening. When the narrator tells him of his imminent death, Harold has to find if his story is a comedy or tragedy to see if he can re-write his own story.
Everyone’s life is their own story, and the ending to the story may or may not be already written. But this movie swaps the two, with Harold Crick’s life is an actual story that is being written simultaneously by famous author Karen Eiffel, played by Emma Thompson. Her writing doesn’t make Harold do things, for the narration is describing things he is doing or has already done, but the fate of the book and Harold’s life are in Eiffel’s hands.
The key idea in the film is fate. When Harold learns of his own imminent death, he changes his lifestyle for the better: becomes better friends with a guy at work, doesn’t wast time counting tooth brush strokes or seconds to tie his tie, and even develops a real relationship with a women he is auditing. He allows the author to decide how she wants to end the book, tragically or comically, so it seems as if it is out of his hands. But the decision is his, and his decision alone is enough to change fate. You are left with a lot to think about, both with how much you think your future is in your hands and how you want to let that affect your life now.
The brilliant story itself is enough to entertain, but also included is a lot of really smart comedy that plays perfectly off of the story and it’s idea. Ferrell is funny as always, and also a lot more than a character, as is his character, Harold Crick.
3.5 /4 – With simple direction, an eccentric and touching story, and superb performances from all involved, Stranger Than Fiction is a unique and modern fairy tale that leaves you full of wonder and satisfaction.