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Stranger Than Fiction

Year: 2006
Production Co: Crick Pictures LLC
Studio: Columbia
Director: Marc Forster
Writer: Zach Helm
Cast: Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah, Maggie Gyllenhaal
I had high hopes for this film, expecting a really smooth blend of Will Ferrell's more commercial antics and a smart, poignant idea.

What a letdown. Yes it was funny, but in paring back Ferrell's trademark energy, it needed to offer something else, and a smart story was it. Unfortunately, while the story held a lot of promise, the smartness failed to materialise.

The marketing and talk about the movie hinted at an existential theme, so I expected a huge story-in-the-story twist something like Sophie's World, but somehow a woman comes to write about a character who's real, and they eventually meet in the same world, as if her imagination's spawned this real person and there's no rhyme or reason to it.

Will is a methodical tax agent with a boring life who suddenly hears a woman's voice narrating his life. The woman turns out to be real, an author having a writer's block crisis (Thompson), and the hero enlists the help of a coffee-addicted, eccentric literature professor (Hoffman) to track the author down by identifying her style.

The second tier characters of Queen Latifah's literary fixer and Maggie Gyllenhaal's baker and romantic interest flesh out the running time but do little else. I think the two heroes were supposed to be kindred spirits in some way, but the film didn't even make that clear enough. It almost felt like a serious movie that had been rewritten as a comedy when Ferrell came on board.

Some inventive onscreen graphics as Ferrell counts footsteps to the bus stop, strokes with his toothbrush, etc, and a few minor laughs but a wasted opportunity overall.

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