Will Ferrell has made his Truman Show. For those who don't know what I mean because you haven't seen Jim Carey's 2nd best film of all time — why? Rent it now, this instant. Then come back here and we'll continue.
After years of coming up with bizarre situations to catch the audience off-guard and make them fall out of their seats laughing, there comes a point when the limits of talent are being pushed and the territory of repetitiveness expands.
And the Comi-tragedy is the perfect vehicle of choice for a middle-aged comic looking to stay fresh. A tricky genre to master, the payoff is great when done right. Who better to tug at our hearts than a really nice guy in despair? He's someone we can relate to, someone who makes us laugh and with whom we've perhaps shared a few embarrassing moments.
Harold Crick is one such man and between Ferrell's acting, the writing of Zach Helm and Marc Forster's directing he has had life breathed into him on the silver screen. You will laugh, you will cry — it's not a promise, it's a threat. This movie works hard to earn the chuckles and tears, it deserves them so pony up. There are none of the cheap tear-jerking moments you may have come to expect from other films, nor is the humor entirely infantile. It is, in the words of Harold, pretty straightforward.
Dustin Hoffman, as usual, does his job well although beyond that there isn't much to say. Conversely, both Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson give brilliant performances. Ms. Thompson in particular has really run the gamut through her very diverse roles these past few years and although Harry Potter fans may disagree, the character of Karen Eiffel is a lot more three-dimensional than Rowling's Trelawney and allows Thompson to really show her stuff.
All-in-all, this is the must-see movie of the year. It's not controversial, it's not the best comedy, the best drama or even the best story. It's simply the best all-around. There is something in it for everyone and it is an instant classic. A far cry from yet-another comedy or action movie, Stranger Than Fiction has earned a place in my DVD collection when it's released because it's the kind of movie you'll want to see again and again.