Being John Malkovich

a review by Chris McCaleb


For a movie with such an incredibly original premise, I found myself strangely disappointed after seeing this film. I went into it thinking I was going to embrace it whole-heartedly. But I felt a little let down by it after all was said and done. Why? I'm still not sure!


My favorite type of movies are strange, offbeat fantasy flicks. I once ruined Thanksgiving by vehemently defending Brazil to a cousin that hated it during dinner. I have been known to drag polite friends to midnight screenings of Zardoz. I have to watch Legend every year or so, even though I know it's not very good. Dark Star is almost single-handedly both the reason I want to make movies and the reason I think I'm qualified to. From what I'd heard about Being John Malkovich, it sounded like I had another selection for my Weird Movie shelf.


On one hand, I applaud it for its bizarre and original premise, and for the fact that someone tried - and succeeded - to get such a movie made. I also like that it appears to have been made very cheaply, whereas another sort of producer would have spent millions getting ILM to make the portal into Malkovich's head the most beautiful experience ever.


But on the other hand, I felt that after introducing the central concept, the movie sort of let go. I think that no matter how bizarre and original your concept, you still have to really use it. I think I became bored of exploring the strange relationship of Maxine, Lottie, and Craig, and wanted more Malkovich-as-puppet slapstick. If that's the case - and I can't be sure until I see it again - then I fault myself, and not the movie.Ironically, I also wonder how much the poor production quality that I applauded earlier is responsible for my lackluster reaction.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and offer two separate ratings for the movie. If you are like me and love bizarre movies, then I'm going to say it's a Go see this film at a matinee if your first choice is sold out. Chances are you'll be seeing it anyway, or have already. So I might as well align myself with you and curry favor while I can. Plus, there's the fact that I can't really put my finger on what I found so flat.


But if you hated - or didnít recognize - the titles I mentioned before as my favorites, then for you the rating is See this film when it shows on cable*.





© 1999 Absurd Pamphlet Press



*By keeping these people out of the theatres I am saving the rest of you the irritation of hearing their expressions of confusion after the movie is over.