Being John Malkovich - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Being John Malkovich Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ December 6, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2008
Be All That Someone Else Can Be

Excellent FIlm! I enjoyed it alot! Great acting and storyline, funny, clever and insane film. Don't worry if this all sounds a little strange to you, it should do, it's probably the most surreal film ever made. Go see it!

Craig, a puppeteer, takes a filing job in a low-ceilinged office in Manhattan. Although married to the slightly askew Lotte, he hits on a colleague, the sexually frank Maxine. She's bored but snaps awake when he finds a portal leading inside John Malkovich: for 15 minutes you see, hear, and feel whatever JM is doing, then you fall out by the New Jersey Turnpike. Maxine makes it commercial, selling trips for $200; also, she's more interested in Lotte than in Craig, but only when Lotte is inside JM. JM finds out what's going on and tries to stop it, but Craig sees the portal as his road to Maxine and to success as a puppeteer. Meanwhile, Lotte discovers others interested in the portal.
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2011
Freakin weird movie. John Malkovich is always entertaining to watch and the movie has some very original plot elements but there are some big pacing issues. Nevertheless, "Being John Malkovich" is worth watching.
Super Reviewer
½ March 2, 2012
A hilarious and smart film that features strange but great performances. It does seem to run out of steam though by the end.
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2012
Boosted by Charlie Kaufman's supremely original and clever script, along with great performances and stylish direction by Spike Jonze, "Being John Malkovich" is one of the strangest, oddest yet astoundingly clever comedy I've seen in quite a long time. Could be a potential all-time favorite, too!
Super Reviewer
½ October 17, 2010
Excellent excellent film, brilliant concept, perfect execution!
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2006
An out of work puppeteer finds an accounting job in the 7 1/2th floor of an office building where he finds a doorway into the mind of John Malkovich in which he decides to squat in order to win the affection of a co-worker. Being John Malkovich is just strange; not Donnie Darko or Eternal Sunshine strange. Waaaay past that! It's one of those films that you're either going to love or hate because it's so "out there" it's purely a subjective matter of taste. I usually find odd ball films that are deliberately "wacky" such as this terminally irritating (yes, I'm looking at you, Anderson) but Being John Malkovich is so likeably weird and genuinely amusing I couldn't help but love it. John Malkovich shows himself to be a real sport (as does Charlie Sheen and Brad Pitt in cameos) and although I wouldn't try to read too much into it, it's an enjoyably bizarre ride into the imagination of one of the most original script writers around.
Super Reviewer
½ August 27, 2011
Charles Kaufman's insightful exaggeration about the cult of celebrity, and the cult of self(fishness). Never conventional and very witty, a comedy of neuroses delivered by a cast that give their all.
Super Reviewer
½ July 15, 2011
A brilliant concept without any real payoff. Instead of exploring the metaphysical problems initially proposed by John Cusack's character, the film instead dives into an extremely uninteresting melodrama between the three leads. There's no emotional anchor here. Despite that, John Malkovich's performance is to be commended. I just wish the other actors had more to work with.
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2011
Being John Malkovich is a surreal, witty, and surprisingly dark tale. Though the acting performances are all great, the incredibly unique script unfortunately provides few likeable characters, and eventually becomes too strange to emit any sort of understandable message. What viewers are left with is a movie unlike any out there, but the film finds itself to be far more profound than it actually is.
Super Reviewer
½ June 8, 2011
Incredible originality and "weirdness" doesn't automatically spell for good film making. There's always a constant lack of direction, what are the messages, what are the themes? Is it identity? gender roles? incompetence? love without the confines of physical attraction?

The characters are so transparently played out in this bizarre tale that it often fails to connect with it's audience on any level.
Super Reviewer
March 14, 2011
One of the most strange and unpredictable films ever made. The film does have slow moments, but because of it's unpredictability you never have a clue what to expect next, yet alone understand it's missing logic. And even though this film is strange beyond comprehension, it still somehow manages to provide great comedy and enjoyment.
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2011
This is a pretty wierd movie. A little random...perhaps a little too random. But it's still good. John Malkovich is such a good sport for doing this.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2009
In a year full of movies like Magnolia, American Beauty, O Brother, Where Art Thou, Gladiator, Toy Story 2, the list goes on, Being John Malkovich entered the fray relatively quietly. But that feeling of reservedness only lasts until you actually see the film.

The first quarter seems like crazy on overload, then by the second half, you realise that this feeling is just the craziness straining to get off the leash. Our main Craig Schwartz is a puppeteer, specialising in, shall we say, more adult puppet shows than most streetgoers are used to catching glimpses of on a city street corner. After feeling the need to get a real job, he takes up a filing position at LesterCorp. After working on the 71/2 floor (a gag which needs to be seen to be understood) for a while, he finds something interesting about the building in which he works. Something interesting in the form of a small door which has some startling side effects upon entering. From there the film goes crackerdog with some ridiculous scenes and even more ridiculous plotlines with some great gags to boot.

At the centre of the madness is Craig Schwartz, played by an on-top-of-his-game John Cusack. Cusack really is fantastic here were in some films he might feel forced or out of place. He plays the miserable straight man perfectly and leaves plenty of room to move with great use of restraint throughout the film. Cameron Diaz is similiarly refreshing in this and helps to make you realise that, despite the typical hollywood look and not the most consistent choice of roles, she is a fantastic actress, and one with a funnybone too. As the third side of the Diaz/Cuzack love triangle, Catherine Keener excels as Maxine Lund. She makes a true character out of what could have been your typical seductress: smart, strange, confident, all that jazz. And of course, the man in the title, John Malkovich, is brilliant, playing the whiny, paranoid, uppity actor, unafraid to send himself up so entirely and so committedly. He's often good at crazy and it shows in this.

Spike Jonze's direction in this is outstanding. He makes use of some very strange angles in order to position his audience perfectly, manipulating us like puppets who can't feel the strings. Never has a dancing puppet felt so real and emotional as it has with him at its helm.

But it's the script that makes this movie so outstanding. Today, Kaufman scripts are well known to be amazing but it was this breakout screenplay that created the reputation and platform for such pieces as Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synedoche, New York. The everyday language is something to behold; a curious blend of realism and biting comedy, it takes you by surprise every time. Scenes such as the job interview are just portions of the sparkling wit surrounded by utter ridiculousness which is the majority of the film. But possibly the best thing about the script is the fact that what could have become a one-trick-pony very easily is most definitely a complete work. It may limp across the finish line but there is no doubt that the film is resolved in those last chilling moments. And, in trend-setting for any Kaufman scripts which followed after, the underlying message behind all the crazy set pieces is the thing which will stay with you the longest.

Being John Malkovich will definitely not be everyone's cup of tea. There are its lovers, and just as strong there are its haters. And even though there may be the odd misstep here and there, one thing's for sure: it's a movie experience you'll never forget. And if that's not what film is about, what is?

Defining Scene:
Malkovich. Malkovich Malkovich. Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich.

Don't stand in the way of my actualisation as a man!
There's a tiny door in my office.
I have no time for piddling suggestions from mumbling job applicants.
Truth is for suckers, Johnny Boy.
"Are you married?" "Yes but enough about me."
I've been very lonely in my isolated tower of indecipherable speech.
My spunk is to you manna from heaven
Shut up you overrated piece of shit!
Super Reviewer
December 9, 2008
Cerebral, imaginative, and eccentric, this is Kaufman's masterpiece. Cast is perfect, story is so very original, and there's nothing as inspiring for a screenwriter than the inspiration this film delivers.
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2006
The idea of a small door in the 7.5th floor of a New York building leading into actor John Malkovich's mind has to be one of the oddest, most insane and funnest of movie history. The movie behind this idea is just as crazy, funny and wonderfully weird. The fact alone that Malkovich played along with this shows how much the man can laugh about himself. The rest of the cast is just as excellent, especially Catherine Keener, Cameron Diaz and John Cusack deliver some of the best performances of their careers, and there are a lot of fun cameos. While the ending feels a bit rushed and doesn't entirely live up to the first 90 minutes, the whole experience is still a lot of fun, once you buy into the insane premise. One of the most original yet craziest films of recent Hollywood years.
Super Reviewer
½ January 10, 2008
A puppeteer discovers a portal behind a file cabinet that provides entry into John Malkovich's head; together with a scheming co-worker he sells tickets to "be someone else" at $200 a pop. Highly absurd, but still the easiest to follow and funniest of Charlie Kauffman's metaphysical comedy scripts.
Super Reviewer
Loved the fuck out of it!
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