Stranger Than Fiction – I Don’t Understand the Hype

Rating (2.5 out of 5)

Summary: The movie never decides if it wants to be a love story, a comedy, or a drama. The struggle leaves the film listless. The premise had potential, and we kept waiting for the next progression or evolution. Unfortunately, that evolution never materialized, leaving me wondering what should I get out of this film. In the end, I appreciated the attempt but C- for the final product.

Plot: Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is an IRS auditor, and one day he begins to hear Karen Effiel (Emma Thompson) narrate his life as she writes her book about him. Her books always end with the main character dying. Will Harold die as well.

Detail: “Stranger Than Fiction” fails to decide what type of movie it wants to be; romance, comedy, drama. By trying to be all three at one time, the film fails on multiple fronts.

The romance was odd. The director tried the love story of opposites, as Harold falls in love with a new-age hippie, and he is a tax auditor. The romance didn’t have a natural feel, and the relationship lacked chemistry. If I had one take away from the movie; learn to play guitar, and you will get some. The guitar was the turning point in the romance, making the romance extremely mechanical.

There was an attempt at comedy. When Harold tries to document his life as either a tragedy or comedy, and keeps checking the tragedy side of the journal, that was a chuckle. Other moments made you smile, but nothing enough to make you laugh out loud.

The attempt at drama was there, and the final decision by Karen if she kills Harold or not, was the highlight of the film. But even the drama is lost as they offset it by adding cute/romantic elements, thereby losing a bit of the drama.

Both Harold and Karen live in extremely minimalistic apartments. It made both characters distant and cold, and therefore not overly likable. Harold warms up and slowly becomes more likable. Karen never gets to the same point. This general lack of likability pushes the viewer away from the main characters, which can be difficult for a move to overcome.