Stranger Than Fiction (PG-13)

Comedy 105 November 10, 2006
By Jim Ridley
Once an actor gets big enough to take whatever role he wants, it makes sense that the biggest stretch imaginable, given his current situation, is the part of a powerless man with no control over the world around him. As The Truman Show was for Jim Carrey, this feathery romantic fantasy is for Will Ferrell. Playing up the moony softness he usually plays against, Ferrell is Harold Crick, an obsessive-compulsive IRS agent who begins to hear his every move narrated by a disembodied voice. Meanwhile, reclusive author Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) struggles to finish her long-delayed novel -- which points toward the death of a mope named Harold Crick. Zach Helm's zig-zagging script layers whimsy upon whimsy. And yet the actors work magic within the story's artificial constructs -- Maggie Gyllenhaal as a rebellious baker, Dustin Hoffman as an oracular lit professor. And Ferrell gets at least one marvelous moment: a lovestruck version of Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World." The movie becomes a fable about a creator's responsibility to his/her creations, and under Marc Forster's attentive (if too literal) direction, the performances succeed where Harold fails: gaining a life independent of their author.
Marc Forster Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson, Tony Hale, Kristin Chenoweth, Tom Hulce, Linda Hunt, Eli Goodman Zach Helm Lindsay Doran Sony Pictures

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