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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 Stephen Groenewegen

5 stars

Being John Malkovich is bursting with so many fresh ideas that - by all rights - you'd expect it to be low-budget, black and white, and star no one you've ever heard of. Instead, Spike Jonze's out-there directorial debut was made in colour, with a medium-sized budget and features John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and - yes - John Malkovich.

Charlie Kaufman's wild script with Malkovich came first, before the actor was even approached. Even if Malkovich wasn't won over, I wouldn't have put it past Jonze to make the film without him. In bringing Kaufman's script to life, Jonze matches him in daring and inventiveness. They're a perfect combination, and it will be fascinating to see their future projects and collaborations.

Imagine Kaufman pitching this premise. John Cusack is Craig Schwartz, an unemployed puppeteer, married to dowdy and daffy Lotte (Cameron Diaz), who regularly fills their cramped apartment with sick animals. Craig is not making enough money from busking his Abelard and Heloise puppet shows (!) on the street, so he gets a "real" (filing) job on the 7 ½ floor of a building (the orientation video for new workers on the 7 ½ floor is worth the price of admission alone). Behind a cabinet, he discovers a tiny door. It's a portal to actor John Malkovich's brain (you peer out through his forehead and, with practise, can overrun his consciousness).

The most exciting thing about this film is that the off-the-wall plot continues to get stranger without ever transgressing the boundaries it sets. It remains consistent with its own reality, even if that reality may sometimes seem like it's occurring in a parallel universe. The film lost me a little in the middle, and never recaptured the giddy pleasure of the set-up (though I wouldn't have missed the chimp flashback for anything!).

Malkovich is terrific, but Catherine Keener is another major discovery, alongside Jonze and Kaufman. Keener's not new to film, but this is her breakthrough role. She plays Maxine, Craig's pragmatic co-worker who sees $$$ when he shows her the portal. Craig and Lotte both fall in love with her, and it's not hard to see why. She's sassy and sharp, with a quick tongue and a brain in her head - a throwback to those dangerous 1940s Hollywood heroines. She's a woman who knows what she wants and gets it too.

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originally posted: 02/29/00 08:14:43
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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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