*** Official "ADAPTATION" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Dec 10, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Adaptation". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
  2. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

    Mar 7, 2001
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    Brooklyn, NY
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    Damin J. Toell
    I finally saw this tonight and I can't help but feel that most of the audience didn't get it at all.
    These thoughts are spoiler-filled.
    From the moment that Charlie asks Donald to tell him what "The Great Donald" would do with his script, the film goes exactly where Charlie said earlier in the film that he didn't want it to go. For example, Charlie said that he wants to keep the film about orchids so that it doesn't turn into a story about poppies and hence a story about drug trafficking. Exactly this happens in the last section of the film when the preposterous "orchid dust" derivative of the Ghost Orchid is revealed to be an addicition of the Native Americans and Susan Orlean (and perhaps Laroche, although I'm not sure he's shown ingesting it - he just raises the Ghost Orchids).
    We also get numerous other elements that were strictly forbidden, such as the "profound life experience": Charlie & Donald confiding in the swamp leading to Charlie crying and saying "thank you" (which led to Charlie calling his mother, Charlie reconciling with Amelia, etc.). While Charlie specifically noted that he didn't want anything to "happen," much happens, and all of it is unfaithful to the source material (another requirement of Charlie's). The film even violates McKee's rule against deus ex machina: the car crashing into the truck, the alligator attacking Laroche. The film basically, on purpose, becomes the worst possible adapted screenplay.
    It is also at this point that the greatest deviation from reality (and therefore Orlean's book) occurs. Although the whole Charlie/Donald thing was already fabricated, and small fabrications with regard to Orlean had occurred (e.g., Orlean and Charlie in the elevator), the dramatization of the Orlean/Laroche excapades were reasonably authentic until that point. However, when Donald takes over, it goes completely off the deep end. Suddenly we find out that Orlean did in fact see a blooming Ghost Orchid on her final day in the Fakatchee Strand (in direct opposition to the end of her book) and that this led to a drug-incuded extramarital affair. Interestingly, although Orlean and her husband did in reality break up on the day that The Orchid Thief was published, the film keeps them together to make the affair even more forbidden. And for any fans of Orlean's book, the notion that not only did Orlean get to see a blooming Ghost Orchid but that Laroche was finally able to capture and cultivate Ghost Orchids is particularly funny; this eviscerates much of the meaning of the book.
    Anyway, I found it to be quite enjoyable. Not quite up to the level of Being John Malkovich, but certainly an effectively humorous exercise. My heart goes out to Orlean (who looks almost nothing like Meryl Streep - although Orlean happened to be an extra on The Deer Hunter). She bravely sacrificed herself (and her work's "sprawling New Yorker bullshit" style) for Kaufman's enterprise.
  3. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    While Being John Malkovich made it all the way to the top of my Best Films for 1999, I’m afraid I cannot say the same for Adaptation. I found this latest collaboration between Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze to be just as original as BJM but less satisfying, not as clever and definitely lacks the hilarity of their previous effort.
    Maybe, it wasn’t weird enough and surprising as BJM. However, there is quite a bit to like in this film including the performances of all Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. The writing is good but the film itself is just not captivating.
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    I enjoyed this film, then again, I probably enjoyed the "hearing the character's thoughts" motif sprinkled all throughout the film because there are some comic gems in those thoughts.

    The whole exercise of fileting the standard cookie-cutter Hollywood screenplay writing was done well enough to keep me entertained. Even as the film becomes a subtle/not-so-subtle parody of the screenwriting experience, I got good laughs from it all, and from the laughter by the audience, I'd say many of them also got a lot of the in-jokes.

    This was one of the few movies where even though it doesn't want to be a "stereotypical" plot-driven movie, when it gets into the 3rd act, you get that rush of "what's going to happen next?" with no idea of what's really going to happen. (Even if it "violates" good screenwriting principles) So, in that respect, I got some mileage out of it.

    The performances were solid. I still wonder how they seamlessly integrated Nicolas Cage's dual performances (as Charlie and Donald Kaufman onto celluloid. The special effect work is done very well. And Cage does a great job in creating 2 different characters that look alike (being identical twins and all) and has their own cadence and mannerisms. Meryl Streep does another good turn in a part that could have easily been "phoned in" but I bought her performance as Susan Orlean. Chris Cooper totally disappeared into the role of John LaRoche, and gave us quite a character in his outlook on life.

    I give this film 3.75 stars or a grade of A-.

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