Being John Malkovich (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

Being John Malkovich (1999)



Critic Consensus: Being John Malkovich is both funny and smart, featuring a highly original script.

Being John Malkovich Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Would you pay money to journey into the mind of the star of Con Air, The Killing Fields, and In The Line of Fire? Puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is having money problems, so he takes a temporary job as a file clerk on the seventh-and-a-half floor of a large office building. One day, while rummaging behind a cabinet, he finds a small door that leads to the center of the mind of actor John Malkovich (played by, you guessed it, John Malkovich). Craig discovers that entering the portal allows him to become John Malkovich for a brief spell, and in time he and his beautiful but aloof co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener) get the bright idea to charge admission for the privilege of spending 15 minutes inside the head of a well-known actor. Malkovich realizes that something strange is happening to him, but can do little to stop it, as strangers take over his mind for a quarter-hour at a time. Craig's wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), eventually takes a trip into Malkovich's psyche, and she soon finds herself in love with Maxine, with whom Malkovich has an affair; meanwhile, Maxine in time becomes infatuated with both Craig and Lotte, but only when they're inside Malkovich. Being John Malkovich marked the feature-length debut of director Spike Jonze, who previously made acclaimed music videos for Weezer, the Beastie Boys, and the Breeders, among others. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: R (for language and sexuality)
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Charlie Kaufman
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 2, 2000
Gramercy Pictures - Official Site


John Cusack
as Craig Schwartz
Cameron Diaz
as Lotte Schwartz
Orson Bean
as Dr. Lester
Madison Lanc
as Daughter
Ned Bellamy
as Derek Mantini
Byrne Piven
as Capt. Mertin
Bill M. Ryusaki
as Mr. Hiroshi
Carlos Jacott
as Larry the Agent
Richard Fancy
as Johnson Heyward
Patti Tippo
as Malkovich's Mother
Octavia Spencer
as Woman In Elevator
Daniel Hansen
as Boy Malkovich
Judith Wetzell
as Tiny Woman
Kevin Carroll
as Cab Driver
Willie Garson
as Guy In Restaurant
W. Earl Brown
as First J.M. Inc. Cust...
Gerald Emerick
as Sad Man In Line
James Murray
as Student Puppeteer
Mariah O'Brien
as Girl Creeped Out by ...
Gregory Sporleder
as Drunk At Bar
Dan Hansen
as Boy John Malkovich
Jacqueline Benoit
as Lester's Friend
William N. Buck
as Lester's Friend
Christine D. Coleman
as Lester's Friend
Jeanne Diehl
as Lester's Friend
Audrey Gelfand
as Lester's Friend
Yetta Ginsburg
as Lester's Friend
William Nichols Buck
as Doctor Lester's Frie...
Sylvester Jenkins
as Lester's Friend
Roy C. Johnson
as Lester's Friend
Eddie J. Low
as Lester's Friend
Christine Coleman
as Doctor Lester's Frie...
Ralph W. Spaulding
as Lester's Friend
David Wyler
as Lester's Friend
Flori Wyler
as Lester's Friend
Marlowe Bassett
as Ballet Dancer
Kristin D'Andrea
as Ballet Dancer
Jessica Neuberger
as Ballet Dancer
Jennifer Canzoneri
as Ballet Dancer
Charlene Grimsley
as Ballet Dancer
Sara Rifkin
as Ballet Dancer
Kristie Cordle
as Ballet Dancer
Christine Krejer
as Ballet Dancer
Elizabeth Rivera
as Ballet Dancer
Denise Dabrowski
as Ballet Dancer
Erica Long
as Ballet Dancer
Chelsa Sjostrom
as Ballet Dancer
Yvonne Montelius
as Ballet Dancer
Pamela Hayden
as Featured Character V...
Michelle Madden
as Featured Character V...
Neil Ross
as Featured Character V...
Jayne Hess
as Featured Character V...
Greg O'Neill
as Featured Character V...
Bill Wittman
as Featured Character V...
Christopher Bing
as Himself [uncredited]
Pamela Hayden
as Featured Character V...
Kevin Lee
as Ballet Dancer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Being John Malkovich

Critic Reviews for Being John Malkovich

All Critics (126) | Top Critics (28)

Devilishly inventive and so far out there it's almost off the scale.

Full Review… | June 17, 2008
Top Critic

This outrageous comic fantasy may not sustain its brilliance throughout its 112 minutes, but it keeps cooking for so much of that time that I don't have many complaints.

Full Review… | February 8, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

By the time the tunnel worthy of the likes of Gulliver and Alice becomes a freeway clogged with bit players, a big chill has descended on all the characters.

Full Review… | April 27, 2007
New York Observer
Top Critic

It is hard to mix moods -- the film is manic, subtle, comic and vaguely sad -- but [Jonze] does it masterfully.

Full Review… | July 21, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

It's clever, witty, dark and, most importantly, unwaveringly bizarre.

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

There's something fantastically proto-Internet about this romantic-dramedy of flop-sweat desperation, role-playing, simulation and eccentric, niche-culture behaviour-a world of virtual-reality escapes, alter egos, sexual fetishes and rabbit-hole trips.

Full Review… | February 7, 2014
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

Audience Reviews for Being John Malkovich


A strange, existential, and ultimately disconcerting film that just gets weirder and weirder. Major points for Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman for originality, but the film's atmosphere and mood are just so dismal. The film is almost saved by Malkovich's performance in second half, but the film remains too drab to provide enough reason to love it. A lot of originality and uniqueness (as well as strangeness) to offer, but not enough entertainment value. There is no comfortable balance between the two.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer



Spike Jonze's wittily-written, incredibly acted comedy drama about a disgruntled but ambitious puppeteer who to his amazement finds a peculiar, mystical portal into the mind of John Malkovich, is a brilliantly surreal and mind boggling experience. It's profoundly original dream-like narrative exploring humanities selfishness and one's desire to be something else makes it consitently entertaining and builds up to an utterly unforgettable cinematic experience. Charlie Kaufman's clever yet non self-indulgent script creates some very awkward but hilarious situations for the characters and flawlessly disguises the insane fableness and fantasy of the story and it's characters infinitely believable. He went on to work with director Michel Gondry and wrote his masterpiece; Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, which I think is one of the best films ever made. He is arguably one of the most talneted art-house writers out there today and although he makes very few films the one's that he does work on are always brilliant. In the interesting case of Being John Malkovich, performance-wise it is perfect, Cameron Diaz and John Cusack advertise some fantastic chemistry, but the greatest stand-out is easily John Malkovich who is just perfect and undeniably engaging at being/playing John Malkovich. Catherine Keener is also great as the bitterly inhuman anti-hero, and Jonze's outstanding direction nails the film as a landmark. I think it's one of the best directorial debuts of all time, and if your not laughing at it, or being moved by it, you'll certainly be admiring it. It's a strange and emotionally detatching screen presence but in my opinion it's one of the best of it's kind. Endlessly fascinating and completely extraordinary.

Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Lotte Schwartz: I think it's kinda sexy that John Malkovich has a portal, y'know, sort of like, it's like, like he has a vagina. It's sort of vaginal, y'know, like he has a, he has a penis AND a vagina. I mean, it's sort of like... Malkovich's... feminine side. I like that. 

"Ever want to be someone else? Now you can."

Charlie Kauffman's and Spike Jonze's first team up is a complete masterpiece. This is a movie unlike any you have ever seen and is only equaled in brilliance and originality by another film that was written by Kauffman, Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind. Being John Malkovich is a bizarre, eccentric, out in outer space film that is sure to turn some people off based purely on just how weird a film it is. For those who love bizarre, when it is genius, will love this one. 

Craig Schwartz is a puppeteer, but there isn't much demand for his profession, so he has to take a job as a filer. While there, he finds a small door behind a filing cabinet and enters. Turns out that door is a portal into John Malkovich's mind. He teams up with a beautiful co-worker, who he is smitten for and starts selling trips into Malkovich's mind at $200 a pop. There's a lot of weirdness going on including a secretary that can't understand a word anyone says, an office on the 7 1/2 floor that is half the height of a normal floor, and a love... square. 

Describing a film like Being John Malkovich is a hard thing to do. People who love, don't see it as just a weird movie, while people who hate it see it only as that. With all the weird stuff that is going on in Kauffman's screenplay, there is just as much intelligent stuff going on. Most of it is the same. There's something altogether brilliant about every single thing going on here. From looking into the mind of a chimp to having a setting placed on a floor that isn't really a floor to Keener's character being in love with Diaz's because she senses Diaz's presence in Malkovich's when they make love. You can't help but just be swept up by it all. Or at least I can't. 

If you're familiar with Kauffman's and Jonze's other works, you know that both of them are in love with the bizarre. So when they get together for movies like this and like Adaption, the end result is no less than warped, but also no less than amazing. 

If you want to watch something truly original in just about every facet; this is a must watch. If you don't like movies that are trying to do something outside of the routine, boring movies that are mass made each year, don't watch it. For those who can accept the films eccentricity, you'll find a movie that is made with pure imagination and love. Being John Malkovich is easily one of my favorite movies of all-time. I could watch it a thousand times and still love every single moment of it.

Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Being John Malkovich Quotes

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– Submitted by Tomas K (4 years ago)

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