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Being John Malkovich (1999)

John Cusack , Cameron Diaz , Spike Jonze  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (541 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich, Ned Bellamy
  • Directors: Spike Jonze
  • Writers: Charlie Kaufman
  • Producers: Charlie Kaufman, Michael Kuhn, Michael Stipe, Sandy Stern, Steve Golin
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Polygram USA Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 2, 2000
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (541 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305807086
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,587 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Being John Malkovich" on IMDb

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  • Documentaries
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

While too many movies suffer the fate of creative bankruptcy,Being John Malkovich is a refreshing study in contrast, so bracingly original that you'll want to send director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman a thank-you note for restoring your faith in the enchantment of film. Even if it ultimately serves little purpose beyond the thrill of comedic invention, this demented romance is gloriously entertaining, spilling over with ideas that tickle the brain and even touch the heart. That's to be expected in a movie that dares to ponder the existential dilemma of a forlorn puppeteer (John Cusack) who discovers a metaphysical portal into the brain of actor John Malkovich.

The puppeteer's working as a file clerk on the seventh-and-a-half floor of a Manhattan office building; this idea alone might serve as the comedic basis for an entire film, but Jonze and Kaufman are just getting started. Add a devious coworker (Catherine Keener), Cusack's dowdy wife (a barely recognizable Cameron Diaz), and a business scheme to capitalize on the thrill of being John Malkovich, and you've got a movie that just gets crazier as it plays by its own outrageous rules. Malkovich himself is the film's pièce de résistance, riffing on his own persona with obvious delight and--when he enters his own brain via the portal--appearing with multiple versions of himself in a tour-de-force use of digital trickery. Does it add up to much? Not really. But for 112 liberating minutes, Being John Malkovich is a wild place to visit. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

A struggling street puppeteer takes a job to make some money. One day he accidentally discovers a door...a portal into the brain of John Malkovich (played by John Malkovich!) For 15 minutes he experiences the ultimate head trip - HE is being John Malkovick.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
159 of 187 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I agree with Roger Ebert- THE film of 1999. April 1, 2000
Format:DVD
Don't get me wrong- I loved American Beauty. I was shocked by The Sixth Sense. I was moved by Magnolia. But for me, the movie in 1999 that made me sit back and say "wow" was Being John Malkovich.
I am sure you know the plot, and words wouldn't help to describe how original (and ingenious) it is. The film works on so many levels- it is a screwball comedy, an existential discussion of the nature of existence, a study of sexual identity, and a satire of the modern desire to "escape" from life. On top of all of that, it is darn entertaining to watch!
The characters (played to perfection but Cusack, Diaz, Keener, and Malkovich himself) are all well-drawn, and the actors do a fantastic job- wait until you see Diaz, unrecognizable in frizzy hair and frumpy dress.
The directing is top notch as well. Spike Jonze (of Three Kings fame) has made a wise choice- he recognizes the script is the star and has directed a film without any flashy camera work, which would detract from the real focal point. That is not to say the work is pedestrian- he did everything that had to be done to make the film, and he did it well (note his Oscar nod for best director).
The production design is a big star here as well. The 7 1/2 floor is almost "Gilliam-esque"- in fact, when I first saw the preview I assumed it was Terry Gilliam's (Brazil, 12 Monkeys) newest film.
The best word to describe this film is "giddy." I saw that because that is what I brought away from it- I felt giddy watching it, and you can teel the cast and crew felt the same making it. The best thing I have read about the film was from a rejection letter from another studio, which neglected to option the screenplay: "I'm sure Being John Malkovich would be regarded as a work of genius on whatever planet it was written." If that doesn't make you want to see the thing, nothing will.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
"Well, there's this guy...." That's all that some viewers could really come up with when asked to describe "Being John Malkovich", the latest film starring Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener and John Cusack. Oh...and John Malkovich is in it, too. This movie is so original, I can't even begin to explain this movie, other than that it was intelligent, fascinating, and hilarious. Because of the originality, it is completely unpredictable: you are so completely in the dark trying to guess what is going to happen next, that you end up not even bothering to guess-which makes a great movie-going experience.
Cusack plays Craig Schwartz, a puppeteer who believes he is not just a puppeteer, but an artist. Diaz, in a wig that makes her nearly unrecognizable, plays Schwartz' animal-loving wife, Lotte. Cusack, upon the realization that he might not make it as a puppeteer, decides to get a day job, at a place on the seventh and half floor of a New York skyscraper. It is here at this odd office floor, that Cusack stumbles upon a portal to John Malkovich's brain-where he is allowed to experience what it is like to be a celebrity for 15 minutes, and then be spit out somewhere outside the New Jersey turnpike. Hilarity ensues, and metaphysical questions are asked.
This movie is like a dream-and not in the sense that it's an incredibly great movie, although it is. It's like a dream because of the way that the logic is formatted. Things that have seemingly little significance, have a large significance by the movie's end. We are whisked away from plotline to plotline, that soon the rhythm of the rapidfire plot becomes catchy. Things that would not make sense in most movies makes complete sense here.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think; I feel; I suffer; I like this movie December 9, 2004
Format:DVD
Being John Malkovich is one of the most thematically ambitious films of the 1990's. It delves figuratively and literally into the weaknesses and complexities of the human psyche through the self-revealing and often comical actions of the main characters. Through bizarre situations, a subtle but emotional soundtrack, and a tiny portal on the 7 1/2 floor of an office building, Malkovich investigates the multi-faceted aspects of human beings, and the troubles they face in trying to find themselves.

Each character in this film is aware, sometimes painfully aware, of his or her identity, and the extremes that they reach in trying to change, control, and manipulate their identities suggest that consciousness is perhaps more trouble than it's worth. Craig Schwartz, played by John Cusack, is a talented puppeteer, and therefore a master at adopting multiple personalities, but until he finds a real person to imitate, he remains in his workshop, alone and unsatisfied with his life. That is, until he meets the magnetic Maxine, who's confidence and boldness enchants Craig for the entirety of the movie.

It seems logical to assume that if Craig is unhappy with his identity, then he could be happier if he wasn't aware of himself at all. As Craig says, "Consciousness is a terrible curse - I think; I feel; I suffer." Once Craig discovers the Malkovich portal in his office, people start lining up, literally, to partake in the life-altering experience; everyone, that is, except Maxine. Not once does she reveal the slightest interest in going through the portal. Maxine is comfortable in her own skin - a quality which Craig, and pretty much everyone who meets her, greatly admires - but it is not a comfort that comes from being ignorant of her own identity.
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