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Adaptation (2002)


Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 198
Fresh: 180
Rotten: 18

Critics Consensus: Dizzyingly original, the loopy, multi-layered Adaptation is both funny and thought-provoking.

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 38
Fresh: 33
Rotten: 5

Critics Consensus: Dizzyingly original, the loopy, multi-layered Adaptation is both funny and thought-provoking.


Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 186,260


Movie Info

Despite the success of his first produced script, "Being John Malkovich," for which he received an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay, Charlie Kaufman is plagued by insecurities, both in his career and his personal life. When he is hired to adapt "The Orchid Thief," a nonfiction book about a fanatical orchid breeder, John Laroche, he is completely stumped. Though, on the surface, the book is about Laroche's flower poaching adventures in the Florida Everglades, on another level … More

R (for language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images)
Drama , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Charlie Kaufman
In Theaters:
May 20, 2003
Box Office:
Columbia Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Adaptation

All Critics (207) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (180) | Rotten (18) | DVD (32)

For two-thirds of its running time the film is close to genius. But there's still no third act.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's the sort of movie that keeps reinventing itself and nudging us in the ribs as it does. You'll want to see it soon, because everyone you know will be talking about it.

Full Review… | April 27, 2003
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

Few recent movies have conveyed so forcefully how people can feel shut out by their own lack of passion, how they yearn to end the emptiness.

Full Review… | January 16, 2003
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Mired in the inertia of Charlie's writer's block, as if the real Kaufman never found his own passion for the material.

Full Review… | January 10, 2003
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

One-of-a-kind near-masterpiece.

January 9, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Adaptation may not be the first movie to examine the creative process. But it's the most playfully brilliant.

Full Review… | December 20, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic

A fine accomplishment from all involved, especially Charlie Kauffman, who has written a bewildering and captivating movie, which bares his mind, heart and soul.

Full Review… | December 29, 2010
Matt's Movie Reviews

At all times, "Adaptation." carries the thrillingly unpredictable charge of a film writing itself before your eyes. Spike Jonze matches Charlie Kaufman's tumble through time, neuroticism, fact and fiction with depictions of creation at a cellular level.

Full Review… | September 25, 2010

Adult stuff only but hilarious and fresh.

Full Review… | September 2, 2010
Common Sense Media

An impressive follow-up to Being John Malkovich, Adaptation is even more playful, amusing, metanarrative and metaphysical than Jonze's first film, plus it has Nicolas Cage in a dual role and Meryl Streep in one of her wildest turns.

Full Review… | December 30, 2009

Adaptation would all be insufferably clever-clever were its motivation not so genuine. Instead it is experimental, funny, with a tightly-repressed anger and a desire to dig out truth rather than take refuge in the usual artifice.

Full Review… | March 13, 2009

Some parts of the film are classic subversions of Hollywood convention that are intriguing by themselves but don't quite gel as a whole.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

It will confound some and inspire others to riff endlessly on its mysteries.

Full Review… | July 23, 2007

It's almost mind-numbing to think how Mr. Kaufman could possibly follow-up this gem. I'm just glad I don't have to write it, but I'd be happy to watch what he goes through to create it.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Big Picture Big Sound

Adaptation could very well be one of the best films of the year -- it truly is a roller coaster ride of pioneering pandemonium, and shouldn't be missed.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

Really, did we need Kaufman to point out how boneheaded Hollywood can be? And does he do all that much better when, ultimately, he looks to mainstream conventions for the means to put the finishing touches on his tale?

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

Kaufman once again pens a brilliant mind bender chock full of originality.

October 28, 2005

Kaufman is nothing if not brilliant...

March 3, 2005
The Nation

[Adaptation suggests] that there is something 'not of this earth' about humanity, that we are meant for higher, better things than mere adaptation.

Full Review… | December 6, 2004
Looking Closer

If you liked the surreal Being John Malkovich...then you won't want to miss this collaboration.

Full Review… | June 22, 2004

Thanks a lot, Charlie Kaufman. Thanks to you, I and millions of others can no longer use writer's block as a valid excuse for the sh*ttiness of our writing.

Full Review… | February 2, 2004

Blurring fact and fiction more than any film in recent memory, Adaptation is a brilliantly bizarre and completely unique experience.

Full Review… | January 6, 2004
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

It may be dressed up with some clever language and A-list actors, but it's still the equivalent of the smart kid in class who ignored the assignment.

September 5, 2003
Las Vegas Weekly

...trying way too hard to be unique.

Full Review… | August 1, 2003
Reel Film Reviews

Trazendo Nicolas Cage em excelente desempenho, o filme faz uma crítica ácida ao modus operandi de Hollywood e à própria auto-indulgência de seu autor, o genial Charlie Kaufman.

July 25, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Audience Reviews for Adaptation

Adaptation is one of the most intelligent and original films I've ever seen. Charlie Kaufman did a fantastic job with the script and it makes the audience think; this is something that not a lot of films do. All the acting is great especially by Nicolas Cage who convincingly portrays two people. I really liked the main character, Charlie, who is someone we can relate to. This is a film that leaves a lasting impact not only because it's so unique, but because of how emotionally powerful it is. One of my favorites.

Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

When you view this film, the first thing that strikes you is how non-mediocre Nicolas Cage is. He's been in so much crap lately, that it's easy to forget there's actually a gifted performer hiding beneath his resigned exterior.

In this brilliantly written semi-biopic, he plays a dual role as both Charlie Kaufman and his fictional brother Donald. Any serious writer, whether novice or professional, will find much to relate to in the anguish, writer's block and mental overanalyzing that transcends within Charlie's head. They even talk about the same screenwriting book that I currently have on my bedside table. And if you've ever suffered from social awkwardness, this nails it perfectly too.

Director Spike Jonze, whom I'm best familiar with through his appearances in Jackass, creates intellectual magic in his collaboration with Kaufman. The story gets a little weird sometimes, as you might imagine, but never to the point where it comes off as pretentious. It's the best kind of creativity at work here, where its originality is only exceeded by the fantastic performances. There's so many wonderful elements to this film, both visually and internally, that you feel grateful for every second you get to spend within its meta-world.

An amazing vehicle for Cage, that really changes your view of him as an actor. With this in mind, it also makes it more tragic to witness his descent into B-movie territory. I still have faith though, that some day - perhaps when we least expect it - he'll reclaim his long lost dignity and muster up another tour-de-force turn like this one. Not likely, but here's hoping!

Mike S

Super Reviewer


A fun and unique film with a great double performance from Nicholas Cage. His performance is underrated, because he embodies both personas of the Kaufman brothers so well. The real Charlie Kaufman's script is poignant, ironic, witty, and heartfelt. Jonze implements a much more accessible tone and atmosphere for his sophomore film, which proves to be leagues ahead of 'Being John Malkovich'. Full of pathos, laughs, wit, and originality, 'Adaptation' is almost genious.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer


Scattershot almost stream of consciousness mess of a movie. Meryl Streep was nominated for an Oscar for this? I'm a fan of hers but her part is a nothing and while she acquits herself professionally there is nothing special about her work.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Adaptation Quotes

I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. I want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately.
– Submitted by Isabella M (21 months ago)
Robert McKee:
And God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you! That's flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of the character.
– Submitted by Jordan P (2 years ago)
Donald Kaufman:
You are what you love, not what loves you. That's what I decided a long time ago.
– Submitted by Mettie O (3 years ago)
Robert McKee:
Nothing happens in the world? Are you out of your fucking mind? People are murdered every day. There's genocide, war, corruption. Every fucking day, somewhere in the world, somebody sacrifices his life to save someone else. Every fucking day, someone, somewhere takes a conscious decision to destroy someone else. People find love, people lose it. For Christ's sake, a child watches her mother beaten to death on the steps of a church. Someone goes hungry. Somebody else betrays his best friend for a woman. If you can't find that stuff in life, then you, my friend, don't know crap about life! And why the FUCK are you wasting my two precious hours with your movie? I don't have any use for it! I don't have any bloody use for it!
– Submitted by Kunst J (3 years ago)
Donald Kaufman:
You are what you love, not what loves you. That's what I decided a long time ago.
– Submitted by Alexandar T (3 years ago)
Charlie Kaufman:
Why didn't I go in? I'm such a chicken. I'm such an idiot. I should have kissed her. I've blown it. I should just go and knock on her door and just kiss her. It would be romantic. It would be something we could someday tell our kids. I'm gonna do that right now.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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