Being John Malkovich

1999

Being John Malkovich

Critics Consensus

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

93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 131

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 262,385
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Being John Malkovich 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, Rovi

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Cast

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. Customer
Gerald Emerick
as Sad Man In Line
James Murray
as Student Puppeteer
Mariah O'Brien
as Girl Creeped Out by Malkovich
Dan Hansen
as Boy John Malkovich
Gregory Sporleder
as Drunk At Bar
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
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 Friend
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 Voices
Michelle Madden
as Featured Character Voices
Neil Ross
as Featured Character Voices
Jayne Hess
as Featured Character Voices
Greg O'Neill
as Featured Character Voices
Bill Wittman
as Featured Character Voices
Christopher Bing
as Himself [uncredited]
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News & Interviews for Being John Malkovich

Critic Reviews for Being John Malkovich

All Critics (131) | Top Critics (28)

  • Fabulously funny and delightfully disturbed, "Being John Malkovich'' is the ultimate voyeur movie, a dark and at times malevolent take on what it's like to be in someone else's skull, looking out.

    Jun 12, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Devilishly inventive and so far out there it's almost off the scale.

    Jun 17, 2008 | Full Review…

    David Rooney

    Variety
    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.

    Feb 8, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 27, 2007 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

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

    Jul 21, 2005
  • It's clever, witty, dark and, most importantly, unwaveringly bizarre.

    Nov 6, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Being John Malkovich

  • Jul 07, 2013
    Fourteen years I am waiting to see this movie... long fourteen years! And there was always a "valid" reason to delay watching it... not anymore. Finally I saw this inventive comedy-fantasy written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. And I simply loved it. I loved the stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and John Malkovich, I loved the story, I love the way everything was put together, I loved the feeling I had after watching the movie... Craig Schwartz (Cusack), a puppeteer who finds a portal that leads into Malkovich's mind, and his "adventures" kept surprising me during the movie, from the start to the end - never stopping or slowing down. When Cusack asked his agent to present him with the "craziest, most unproduceable script you can find" he didn't know what was he getting involved in... but after reading it he was so impressed with the script, that he asked his agent to follow its progress and book him an audition, with which he won the role. Charlie Kaufman's idea of Being John Malkovich originated simply as "a story about a man who falls in love with someone who is not his wife" and he kept adding further elements to the story which he found entertaining, such as floor 7 1/2 of the Mertin Flemmer building... actually at the first versions John Malkovich was nowhere to be seen! When all the studios in 1994 had an opportunity to read the final version - they all turned it down. Hoping to find a producer, Kaufman sent the script to Francis Ford Coppola, who passed it on to his then-son-in-law Spike Jonze and he read it in 1996. In 1997 he accepted to direct the movie. This outstandingly exciting movie full with surprises will keep you entertained with crazy story, excellent dialogues intelligently shortened to a bare minimum told by the variety of unique individuals who you'll remember long after watching this work of art: John Cusack stars as Craig, a street puppeteer with his dark and neurotic puppets; Cameron Diaz as Craig's wife, Lotte, running a pet store, and their home is overrun with animal boarders, most of them deeply disturbed; Catherine Keener is Craig's co-worker Maxine, and she has her way of listening with her lips slightly parted, ready to interrupt by exposing you for the fool that you are; John Malkovich is imaginary version of himself and he becomes a part of a story when Craig finds a small doorway which is some kind of temporal-spatial portal, ending up inside the brain of the actor... If you are a fan of stories with a twist which can make funny serious and serious funny, which can balance perfectly sad with satirical, weird with touching, and keep you satisfied for almost two hours - there is one for you!
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Feb 03, 2013
    Review after another viewing.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Dec 06, 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.
    Kase V Super Reviewer
  • Oct 17, 2012
    PROS: wildly creative and well-imagined CONS: disconnect with characters--they aren't people you really like OVERALL: good, enjoyable watch, but doesn't stick with you the way it should
    Jeff L Super Reviewer

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