Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is nearing the end of his string. A gifted street puppeteer, Craig nonetheless is coming up empty-cupped: New York City has little use, or tolerance, for his special talents. His ten-year marriage to Lotte (Cameron Diaz), a workaholic pet store employee who literally brings her work home with her, has become habitual at best. They have no money, no passion, no escape.
With no other prospects, the nimble-fingered Craig takes a job as an entry-level filing clerk at LesterCorp., a "small" company located on the 7 1/2th floor of Manhattan's Mertin-Flemmer office building. At his orientation, he meets the beautiful Maxine (Catherine Keener), and, for Craig, it's obsession at first sight. To him, Maxine is an object just waiting to be affected, a woman just waiting to get loved. To Maxine, however, Craig is a no go.
Dejected and rejected, Craig retreats into his office to file. In a moment of exasperation, he slams the drawer, causing a folder to fall behind the cabinet. Upon moving the cabinet, a small boarded-up door is revealed. Prying open the door, Craig uncovers a passageway. Cautiously, he climbs in -- and is suddenly sucked through a dark, wet tunnel. There is a flash of bright light, and then, all at once, Craig realizes that he has discovered a portal that is an all-access pass to the unique experience that is John Malkovich! He is being John Malkovich...and this is Just the beginning.