McKee says we all have to realize we write in a genre, so we must find originality within that genre. Did you know that there hasn't been a new genre since Fellini invented the mockumentary...? My genre's thriller, what's yours?

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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A year ago I tried to watch 8 1/2 but only got up to about 4 1/4. I couldn't help but feel that I was getting made fun of. I couldn't help but feel that I was watching the story of a director who had nothing to say and knew he would be considered one of the greatest filmmakers of all time for not saying it. These same thoughts kept crashing in on me while watching Adaptation, but I got through it easily enough and do feel it is an excellent movie worth watching.

It is hard to get into the depths of this movie without spoiling it. I avoid spoilers at all costs in my reviews, there is nothing I can say here that makes up for the removal of enjoyment a good movie can give you. The story, direction, and acting of Adaptation are all top notch. Nicholas Cage is wonderful, showing his true range as everything from an alcoholic to a terrorist. Now we see him as a scriptwriter who can't get his story out.

At the half way mark is when the payoff starts. I can't help but wonder if most people will really understand the sudden transformation in the story. It is a movie that requires you not only to watch, but think about what your actually watching. It may feel like a sudden change to a Scooby Do picture, but why does it feel that way?

Big budget blockbusters feed off of the lack of intelligence of the typical American audience. I cannot say which angers me more, the fact that people like The Rock makes fun of dumb ones? What if the whole movie exists to glorify the idea that they couldn't come up with a real script? What if this very question is exactly what they were hoping to achieve? My head hurts. Whatever the reason, whether they are secretly laughing at me or not, I can't help but think that Adaptation is a good movie whatever its motives.

The DVD of Adaptation is very well done but severely lacking in any background materials. Watching Nick Cage on Actor's Studio, it became apparent that there is a cloud of mystery around this picture that few can dig into. The lack of bonus material on the DVD helps keep this cloud intact. The film itself is very well represented with a 1.85 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtracks. I cannot say whether the "Superbit" distinction is worth anything since there is nothing to compare it to, but it adds to snob factor so what the hell.

It is hard to say if this is a great movie or not. Without knowing how true to life it is, without really knowing what went into it, it is hard to say if we are being dorked with or if we are really seeing into the creative mind of a troubled scriptwriter. Perhaps that is half the fun of it. Like Pirates of the Caribbean.

Warning, Spoiler alert!

Stop reading right now if you have not seen Adaptation. It won't do you any good anyway.

Here's my Adaptation analysis. The movie we are actually watching is the script written by the main character of the movie. What we are seeing is the film version of the script he is actually writing. Half way through the movie he has a crisis and calls in his brother. His brother wrote the second half of the movie, which is why it turns into Scooby Do. One of the first conversations he has is with the producer. He states things like "I don't want this to be a life lesson or an action movie or a movie about drugs." But that is exactly what it turns into. At one point his brother says "There's going to be a scene where the woman, the cop, and the serial killer all sing 'happy together'." and guess what happens. Brother holding brother in the dirt singing "happy together". The flowers turn into some weird green version of cocaine. The flower guy ends up getting eaten by an alligator. Its all so hokey that it can't be anything but the second brother's script at that point. There are a couple of scenes in the second half that were probably written by the first brother, the writing is too good to be the second one.

But this is what I don't get. In real life, there is no second brother. There is only the script writer. There was never any crisis of faith, no self loathing, no breakdown of the adaptation. He knew exactly what he was writing and the real act of writing the script was far far different from the actual script in the movie. In this regard I cannot help but feel the same way I felt when I saw Fillini's 8 1/2. I felt like I was being manipulated. 8 1/2 is a movie about a director who cannot come up with a plot of a movie. Is that not basically saying "I can't give you a real story so here's a vision of my own lack of vision". I don't buy it. They even reference 8 1/2 in Adaptation, mentioned by the idiot brother as "the first mocumentary". I can't help but feel they are pointing at me and laughing, perhaps the idiot brother is on his knees behind me while the self-loathing brother is about to shove me over backwards so the rest of the class can laugh.