BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999)
Starring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place and John Malkovich.
Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman.
Directed by Spike Jonze.
Distributed by Propaganda Films. 113 minutes. Rated R.
Being John Malkovich has an extremely smart and surrealistic idea for a film. What if you found a way to experience the life of a celebrity?
John Cusack plays a poor puppeteer (and one of the greatest flights of fancy in the film is that there is any other kind of puppeteer) who finds a portal into the mind of movie actor John Malkovich. The only thing is, you can only be in the mind for 15 minutes before getting dumped out onto the New Jersey Turnpike.
Soon Cusack and a gold-digging co-worker (Catherine Keener) — with whom he is infatuated — are turning this miracle into a profitable business.
Cusack’s wife (Cameron Diaz, playing way against type as a frumpy, sexually confused housewife) becomes addicted to the rush of experiencing another, more interesting life. Eventually the three become a strange love triangle whose only real connection is deceit.
Malkovich has a lot of fun in playing himself in a role that essentially mocks his celebrity. Music video auteur Spike Jonze shows a very creative grasp in his feature film-directing debut.
I just wish the movie, for all it’s cleverness, didn’t leave me feeling just a little unsatisfied. It is much more inventive than it is actually good. (10/99)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright © 1999 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 29, 1999.