Adaptation (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Adaptation (2002)



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

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 it's also about the desire in all of us to experience passion. This longing plagues the book's author, Susan Orlean and, Charlie realizes, himself as well. Charlie's twin brother, Donald Kaufman, only makes things worse when he moves in with Charlie and announces he's going to be a screenwriter too. As Charlie battles his severe case of writer's block, Donald cheerily types away on a script about a serial killer with multiple-personality disorder. Donald's script immediately sells, making him the "hot" new writer in town. Then, one day, Charlie has a last ditch inspiration. He'll use his own dilemma as a framework for the script about Laroche and Orlean. But as the words start to flow, and the story takes shape, Charlie inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events impacting on the lives of all the characters.more
Rating: R (for language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images)
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Charlie Kaufman, Donald Kaufman
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 20, 2003
Box Office: $22.2M
Columbia Pictures - Official Site


Nicolas Cage
as Charlie Kaufman/Dona...
Meryl Streep
as Susan Orlean
Chris Cooper
as John Laroche
Brian Cox
as Robert McKee
Jay Tavare
as Matthew Osceola
as Russell
Jim Beaver
as Ranger Tony
Judy Greer
as Alice the Waitress
Doug Jones
as Augustus Margary
Stephen Tobolowsky
as Ranger Steve Neely
Gary Farmer
as Buster Baxley
Peter Jason
as Defense Attorney
Gregory Itzin
as Prosecutor
Curtis Hanson
as Orlean's Husband
Agnes Badoo
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Paul Fortune
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Paul Jasmin
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Lisa Love
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Wendy Mogel
as Orlean Dinner Guest
David O. Russell
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Bob Yerkes
as Charles Darwin
Lynn Court
as Laroche's Dad
Roger E. Fanter
as Laroche's Uncle
Sandra Lee Gimpel
as Laroche's Mom
Caron Colvett
as Laroche's Wife
John Etter
as McKee Lecture Attend...
Ray Berrios
as Police Officer
Nancy Lenehan
as Kaufman's Mother
John Malkovich
as Himself (uncredited)
John Cusack
as Himself (uncredited)
Lance Acord
as Himself (uncredited)
Catherine Keener
as Herself (uncredited)
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Adaptation

Critic Reviews for Adaptation

All Critics (207) | Top Critics (39)

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

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

Audience Reviews for Adaptation

A triumphantly meta film that takes every opportunity to take a filmic cliche and completely turn it on its head. This is writer Kaufman's movie as much as it is Jonze's, and the duo manage to provoke laughs, pathos, and thought in this surreal dive into the writing psyche, complete with a wonderful dual performance from Nicolas Cage.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

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

Adaptation Quotes

– Submitted by Isabella M (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Jordan P (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Mettie O (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Kunst J (4 years ago)

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