Stranger Than Fiction Reviews
Screenwriter Zach Helm's comedy has some quirky points, but it's very sugary and sentimental, and feeble compared to the work of those who have done the same sort of thing better: Woody Allen or Charlie Kaufman.
Besides being inventive and witty, Stranger Than Fiction is a tribute to the power of literature. But art is not its only domain. It also delves into the world of ultimate certainties: death and taxes.
The deader the deadpan the better. When Ferrell and Hoffman do their thing together, a charming bit of whimsy becomes something more. It becomes really, really funny.
Take a cool premise, a smart director and a top-flight cast, then throw an ex-TV sketch comedy knucklehead into the mix - and voila, a thinking person's dramedy that grapples with issues of fate and free will, love and liberation. Look out, Oscars.
If Stranger Than Fiction has a central flaw, it's overly sentimental. Although the story would work better as a tragedy, Forster and Helm can't resist tacking on a mushy love story, involving Crick and combative tax cheat Ana Pascal.
It remains inventive and funny to the end, features fine performances from Will Ferrell and especially Emma Thompson, and offers enough to enjoy and dispute to make it a good B.O. attraction.