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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 13.41%
Average: 8.43%
Pretty Bad: 3.07%
Total Crap: 6.13%

19 reviews, 147 user ratings

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Being John Malkovich
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by Dust For Eyes

"Schizophrenia made fun and easy."
4 stars

'Being John Malkovich' continues with this habit of messing with reality and messing with your brain.


I am real - I'm pretty sure of that. That Descartes thing backs me up.

Any other statements about what is reality are pure conjecture as far as I'm concerned.

It has long been the habit of film to make up their own version of reality to effect the audience. When cinema first started, we've all heard how people were running out of theatres because they thought what they saw was real. They would see a train coming towards them and they were getting the hell out of the way.

Nowadays we are not so easily fooled. We know it's not real.

That's just as well for Jar Jar Binks' sake because there would be a worldwide lynch mob to hunt him down, and gun him down cold. Yeah, you can wait in line.

We still like to delve into the reality of the story. That's how we care about the outcome of the film and that's how we get entertained. It was sad to see Romeo and Juliet kill themselves. Yet it's not real - Leo and Clare didn't really kill themselves. We are comfortable in that knowledge.

Naturally enough people started messing about with this comfort.

We've just had 'The Blair Witch Project' with it's it-is-real-except-it's-not-except-it-is mind twist. In television Emma Thompson was in 'Ellen' playing an actor named Emma Thompson, but she wasn't playing herself since the Emma of the episode was a lesbian. Thompson, the actor, isn't - I don't think so anyway. Ask Greg Wise - he's fathering a child with Thompson.

John Malkovich - as the film points out - is one of those widely respected actors whose reputation as a great actor is so well and truly established that he doesn't really need to have a popular film to be a popular choice for a film. If you need a top quality actor for a film, you get Malkovich. He doesn't need to pander to the populists and that makes him cool.

Remember all those people trapped in other people's bodies films? '18 Again!' 'Big.' Yes, I hated them too. It's stuff for Star Trek and The X-Files to do - and they did - Especially Star Trek. Repeatedly.

This messing with reality, people's minds and being in other people's bodies are brought together in the year's best comedy, 'Being John Malkovich'.

Craig Schwartz (a very different looking Cusack with the long hair and unshaven look) is a puppeteer. Quite a good one in fact - the puppetry of the movie is wonderful. What he loves about it is how he can become another person - getting into the body of the puppet's character. Despite his excellence in his craft, he can't get a decent gig and is relegated to street busking - which often ends in Craig getting beaten up due to the explicit nature of the shows.

Craig's wife Lotte (Diaz, looking virtually unrecognisable) is not happy with how her husband's life is going and coaxes Craig to look for a job. No puppeteer jobs going, but there is an office job for someone with particularly dexterous and nimble fingers. That's right up Craig's alley with his puppeteer's hands and he gets the job.

The office is on the 7½ floor of a building where the ceilings are only 4 feet high. Everyone needs to crouch to get around and you need to use the emergency stop button in the lift to get there. Craig meets up with the rather narcissistic Maxine (Keneer) with whom he becomes infatuated.

While foraging after a lost file, Craig comes across a door hidden behind a filing cabinet. He opens the door, crawls down a passageway, which suddenly - somehow, don't ask me - transports Craig into looking out through the eyes of another person. Craig has inadvertently discovered a portal into the consciousness of John Malkovich.

Utra-bizarro-weird, I know, but, hey, it's John Malkovich - so it's cool.

Being America, Craig and Maxine set out to make some money with the portal.

Director, Spike Jonze made a name for himself making music video clips. He was responsible for the Daft Punk song with the dog/person walking around the streets at night. He was also responsible for The Beastie Boys, 'Sabotage' which was a spoof of 70s cop TV shows.

He had established an interest in the quirky, hilarious and down right strange. It is these qualities that are displayed to the maximum in this thoroughly enjoyable and fun film.

When John Malkovich first heard about his film being made, he wanted it stopped. When he had read the script, he wanted to be in it.

That tells you the secret to the success of the film - the story. You can make up your own mind about the actors (very good), the direction and design (fine), but it's Charlie Kaufman's script that has you goggled eyed and laughing.

Malkovich was a good sport to let himself be subjected to this film. Despite his lofty reputation it's good that he doesn't have to take himself so seriously all the time.

The story is a bit like an old Twilight Zone or Amazing Stories episode. You have a basically normal person - maybe a bit of an outsider - who suddenly has to deal with the strangest possible predicament. This film will appeal to fans of those old TV shows.

In the credits the character is called John Horatio Malkovich even though Malkovich's middle name is Gavin - Horatio might be a Hamlet reference (I'll leave that to you to find out). Malkovich has said that the on screen character only bears the faintest resemblance to him the real person.


The appearance of Malkovich as more or less himself and the appearance of other actors as themselves delve headfirst into the what-is-real-and-what-isn't territory. It's all rather confusing, but that's great.

Having your mind messed with occasionally is a good thing.

I have written more than I should - and wanted to write more - about this film. Maybe that's telling me that this film, despite being a comedy, is quite a thoughtful and thought provoking film. Excellent! They can mess with my sense of reality any time if films as superb as this one keep being produced.

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originally posted: 12/15/99 20:18:05
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell overrated IMO skip it 1 stars
2/08/17 Louise Interesting concept but it didn't really work for me. 3 stars
9/30/14 yelakilla way overrated 1 stars
1/05/14 mr.mike I found it OK at best. 3 stars
3/08/13 David Hollingsworth A unique, weird, and stunning film. 5 stars
7/10/11 Cane Toad Anyone who rates this with one star is a moron. 5 stars
6/14/10 Beth Terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible? Terrible! 1 stars
3/29/10 Cody Burdette The average person cannot follow and take in the movie and all of its twists in one viewing 4 stars
10/23/09 Maxx87 Well, first it was thought that black children needed to be around white children to learn. 5 stars
2/02/08 Quigley One of the coolest ideas for a movie ever created. This film is a must-see experience 5 stars
9/29/07 Derek In My top 10. Loved this Really Weird Masterpiece. 5 stars
6/26/07 fools♫gold I prickishly severely underrated "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"! 5 stars
6/18/07 mb Of Very Low Mind 1 stars
4/04/07 Double M Wow.. brilliant screenplay, Cusack and Malkovich here are incredible. Total mindf*ck.. 5 stars
3/20/07 Stanley Thai Great movie! Presents every twist and turns! 5 stars
3/08/07 R.W.Welch Strong at the start but slowly loses momentum. B- 4 stars
2/15/07 david morin i could make a a better movie filming a bucket of shit 1 stars
11/18/06 Brad Bourland An amazing , unexpected vision, and some of the best acting John Cusack has ever done. 5 stars
9/07/06 Jarkko Perälä One of the best comedies ever made 5 stars
10/05/05 Jesse Taylor Amazing screenplay. One of the best of 1999. John Malkovich is in an Oscar-worthy role. 5 stars
8/11/05 ES Thank goodness I'm not the only one who detested this waste of time abomination 1 stars
8/06/05 Zack Very good film. 5 stars
7/31/05 yuko must see. smart and unique 5 stars
6/28/05 R another "comedy" that's not ACTUALLY funny, but plays quirky so no one notices. 1 stars
5/10/05 Indrid Cold Clever but not much else. 3 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson Amazing and original piece of work. CATHERINE KEENER IS TERRIFIC. I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/06/04 Kris Larsen The worst film I have ever seen! I'd rate it with negative stars. 1 stars
10/04/04 Josh Standlee It was outstanding! I'm blown away by its originality! 5 stars
9/25/04 Agent Sands The genuine originality of this movie is almost a gimmick. 4 stars
8/16/04 Peter James A brilliant screenplay and one of the best of 1999 5 stars
1/17/04 John obvious points pretentiously recycled - no thanks 1 stars
11/25/03 Carl Handratty I hope you don't get paid for this, Slyder. You suck. she doesn't like puppeteers, don't" 5 stars
11/04/03 Charles Tatum Interesting in a weird way 4 stars
10/30/03 Moparman I heard this movie was good. Bought it on PPV. What a piece of crap. BORING!!!! 1 stars
10/12/03 laura paterson pure genius! 5 stars
7/31/03 Nicole Very original 5 stars
4/08/03 Mystique Malkovich!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/07/03 Jack Sommersby Overpraised crapola. Eccentricty bereft of wit and substance. Perfs are 2nd-rate. 1 stars
3/10/03 Nevz MALKOVICH!!! 5 stars
3/03/03 John Malkovich! Malkovich! Malkovich! 4 stars
1/22/03 Jen (probably) chemically enhanced masterpiece 5 stars
12/08/02 Kable Well made and well acted, excellent script but by the end I was sick 4 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted Funniest Film of 1999. 5 stars
9/13/02 Gracy Lionheart Ok, Visionary movies are all right, but this isn't one of them in my book. 1 stars
9/03/02 Shannon GAG! A yawnfest. Tries too hard and fails. 1 stars
8/28/02 Bob MacBryce Overrated but still a pretty good movie 4 stars
6/11/02 Snorfle Overrated. 2 stars
6/09/02 Akira_773 Completely overrated. 2 stars
5/26/02 Nicole Dark & depressing....but VERY funny! 5 stars
3/02/02 Alan Smithee Original, funny.......basically flawless. Beautifully acted 5 stars
1/17/02 Flick Chick who'd wanna be malkovich even for a nano-second? he's butt ugly. 1 stars
11/16/01 John This was much better than American Beauty 5 stars
11/02/01 Connoisseur original, sometimes funny, but often dull and confusing 4 stars
8/29/01 Sarah I felt my life draining out of me, what was this crap? 1 stars
8/29/01 Gary The slow pace was disappointing, but still an original and funny movie. 4 stars
5/28/01 J Overrated & disappointing but not a bad movie. BETTER OFF DEAD is still cusack's best movie 3 stars
4/11/01 the?girl haven't stopped thinking about this movie since I saw it last night. Brilliant and original 5 stars
3/19/01 J.Arcane Where was it's fucking Oscars? 5 stars
3/06/01 Scott Definately not for everyone but I found it to be very fresh and intriguing. 5 stars
2/21/01 Rocket Boy Wild, outrageous, profound, one-of-a-kind comedy 5 stars
2/20/01 Mark Tucker Good to see something different from America. It works and is damn good too 5 stars
2/01/01 Dan Waldman Thouroughly original, unpredictable & funny. 5 stars
2/01/01 Vivien Leung inventive, bizarre and special 5 stars
1/22/01 jmr one of the most interesting and inventive movies ever 5 stars
12/27/00 the Grinch Different? Yes. Good? Ehhhh.... 3 stars
12/01/00 Charlie it's fuckin' genius man! 5 stars
11/21/00 The Bill Head Superb, original story which has wonderful acting/directing..One of the best of the 90s. 5 stars
11/14/00 Elvisfan Not that big a deal, not that clever, certainly not that funny, but not horrible either 3 stars
11/12/00 biggun great script - could have been great with a different director 3 stars
10/13/00 Fishsticks Brilliant and unmissable. Watch the roof..... 5 stars
9/10/00 SmokeSerpent Kickass 5 stars
9/09/00 neilb weird idea, but pulled off brilliantly 5 stars
9/09/00 Jed The cast was mostly good it is kinda funny but overall seriously overrated. 3 stars
9/01/00 Rosenberg One of the most sureal, funny movies of the year, until the end. 5 stars
7/27/00 Overflow Bitch Wow !!! Thoroughly entertaining !! 5 stars
5/16/00 Jenifer BEST MOVIE I HAVE SEEN IN A LONG TIME 5 stars
5/09/00 Monday Morning Fresh, original, superbitchin'! 5 stars
4/28/00 Jason Kallelis As messed up as it is awesome. Very impressive. 5 stars
4/24/00 Matt Sabian Excellent! Very different, but many ways to view it. Best movie seen in a LONG time. 5 stars
4/10/00 Add Good not great, over rated but worth seeing just because it tries 2b different 4 stars
3/27/00 perverted pixie Outstandingly original! The cinema audience were all utterly enchanted 5 stars
3/24/00 Lesley so different - got me sucked in 4 stars
3/01/00 PhilmPhreak Different and interesting 4 stars
2/17/00 Starla Wow! Very unconventional and surprising. Somehow just manages to keep from falling apart. 4 stars
2/12/00 Skye Chapman anything this different can't be bad, can it? 5 stars
2/10/00 MarshyMan So intelligent, funny, detailed and outstandingly entertaining its in a class of its own. 5 stars
2/09/00 Matthew Smith even funnier the second time around 5 stars
2/08/00 shawn B Best movie of the year 5 stars
2/07/00 Jennifer Weng You have J. M. in it and it's great, make it about him and it's unbelieveable!!! Awesome!!! 5 stars
1/28/00 Jono Nicholas Absolutely Brilliant 5 stars
1/18/00 Stephanie Bond Brilliant but totally tripped out 5 stars
1/17/00 Mic Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich?(Being John Malkovich?) Malkovich Malkovich!(Awesome movie!) 5 stars
1/15/00 Movie Maniac - Kev Weirdest movie, a LOT of unsaid insight, thoughts. Not what I expected - brilliant. 4 stars
1/12/00 Leslie This was quite entertaining. An offbeat movie, which made it great. 5 stars
1/06/00 Chris Wheeler Malkovich? 5 stars
1/06/00 Chuck Puchala Malkovich!!!! 5 stars
1/06/00 Chris Wheeler Malkovich? 5 stars
1/05/00 Joel Harwood ONE OF 2000 BEST 5 stars
1/02/00 Nice Guy Eddie Best movie of the year. Go see this before it leaves the theatres! 5 stars
12/29/99 jenn "Blu Smrf" this is the greatest movie i have seen in years, totally awsome, hell yeah!!! 5 stars
12/28/99 Matthew Smith Hilariously funny and exhilarating, not to be missed 5 stars
12/28/99 Malbert The most creative movie I have seen all year, totally awesome! 5 stars
12/27/99 anna mak the most interesting and original film in ages 5 stars
12/18/99 Zeitgeist The writers of this film are either creative geniuses or are on large quantities of LSD 5 stars
12/18/99 Dick Laurent Very creative film! Reminded me on Terry Gilliam's "Brazil"! 5 stars
12/17/99 Heather If only there were more freaky movies like this, loved the hilarious sex scenes 5 stars
12/17/99 Fork Thinking man's freakazoid. Who are you? Who cares? Good question. 4 stars
12/09/99 [KingMob] Dwah.. one of the trippyest movies of the year. 5 stars
12/08/99 JonnyAngel Being Jon Jackson, now that would be a movie!! 5 stars
12/07/99 Demure33 This movie raves with imagination & if you look closely, metaphysics 5 stars
12/06/99 Ami the wonderbread If only I could be JOhn Malkovich for 15 minutes! Fantastic! 5 stars
12/02/99 Carlos G. Lamas Fall '99 will be remembered for mind trips in cinema, and "Malkovich" will top the list. 5 stars
11/30/99 Queen of the Amazon Vamps The greatest part of this movie is women fucking women as men! Suck my dick too ;) 5 stars
11/25/99 Mr. X Had some amazing parts, had some sloppy parts. 5 stars
11/24/99 Ryan Philippe gets hit by a car and it rules Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Fuck the King of Bros. Malkovich Malkovich Eat Me Malkovich 5 stars
11/23/99 Fenris Psychotic and amusing at the same time. 5 stars
11/22/99 Susan Thought I'd love it; ended up hating it. 3 stars
11/22/99 Mickey More Almost too smart for it's own good. Great idea, carried out very well. 4 stars
11/21/99 Being Michael Browne One of the best-tasting slices of brilliance ever manifested into film 5 stars
11/21/99 Amy Fucking fantastic. I've never seen anything like it. 5 stars
11/20/99 JJ Oh what a mind fuck--and I liked it 5 stars
11/19/99 Kriperace Short menu, but very tasty! 5 stars
11/16/99 Adam Wow. Lotta stuff here - Spike Jonze has proven himself to the big boys. 5 stars
11/16/99 Joel twisted and sick as hell! I love it! 5 stars
11/15/99 Zeitgeist MalkovichMalkovichMalkovichMalkovichMalkovichMalkovichMalkovich 5 stars
11/14/99 MrShowbiz Unique, fantastic, a must see. 5 stars
11/13/99 keeba Awesome puppetry! the most original movie i've seen all year. 5 stars
11/13/99 joe chip What? No puppeteers in the classifieds! 5 stars
11/13/99 El Tigre Very original, but flawed. The characters are quirky beyond the point of being relatable. 3 stars
11/12/99 Matt Highly original and entertaining. 5 stars
11/09/99 Glitter Berry Don't stand in the way of my realization as a man! 5 stars
11/09/99 Marble Xavier Hillarious -- the blackest of black comedy, perfect cast. 5 stars
11/08/99 Dax I'll never look at John Malkovich the same way again... 5 stars
11/08/99 Robert Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich!!! 5 stars
11/08/99 entropy weird. a must see. 5 stars
11/07/99 sydney Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it! Love it! 5 stars
11/06/99 Dave This movie rules! I gotta see it again! 5 stars
11/05/99 Bob Maybe the most amazing movie of all time. 5 stars
11/03/99 theguy totally subversive, fuck-with-your-head brilliance, and amazing acting 5 stars
11/02/99 Billie Truly great fun, can't wait to see it a second time 5 stars
11/02/99 pipeman The most amazingly unique movie in years. Don't let anyone tell you about it before you go. 5 stars
11/01/99 watthree Loved it. This movie is completely original. 5 stars
10/31/99 JSM Not a perfect film, not even necessarily great, but one that will expand your POV - d't mis 5 stars
10/26/99 Robin Defies words...must see...again & again 5 stars
10/25/99 jillian george Extraordinary, the cinema is shifting to the aesoteric personalism it was destined to be 5 stars
10/23/99 nootch This has to be the weirdest movie I have ever seen! You can't help but laugh out loud... 4 stars
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  29-Oct-1999 (R)



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