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(1999) (John Cusack, John Malkovich) (R)

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Comedy: Having discovered a portal that leads directly into actor John Malkovich's head where visitors can see and hear everything he does, a small group of people vies for ultimate control of the actor and his behavior.
Craig Schwartz (JOHN CUSACK) is a down on his luck artist whose sexually charged street puppet shows are more likely to result in him being punched out than receiving grateful applause. Things aren't much better at home where his marriage to Lotte (CAMERON DIAZ), a pet store employee who literally brings home her work in the form of chimps and other critters, lacks any spark or true love.

Sensing the need for a change and a way to make some money, Craig takes a job as a filing clerk for LesterCorp, a small company located on the 7½ floor of a Manhattan high-rise. It's run by Dr. Lester (ORSON BEAN), an older man who thinks he has a speech impediment since his "executive liaison," Floris (MARY KAY PLACE), misunderstands everything everyone says, and only offers one true piece of incentive for Craig.

And that's Maxine (CATHERINE KEENER), a straight-shooting, drop-dead beauty who wants nothing to do with Craig, especially when she learns that he's a puppeteer. Yet, Craig continues trying to impress her despite already being married and Maxine's continually brushing him off.

Things change for Craig, however, when one day he discovers a small door hidden behind a filing cabinet. Making sure that no one else sees what he's doing, Craig cautiously opens the door and then proceeds down the long tunnel behind it. Suddenly the door slams shut and he's sucked down the tunnel and into the head of actor John Malkovich (JOHN MALKOVICH).

Able to see, hear and feel everything that Malkovich does, Craig is forever changed by the experience that lasts only fifteen minutes before unceremoniously dropping him alongside the Jersey turnpike. Excited about the discovery, Craig tells Maxine, who sensing a profitable venture, decides to join forces with Craig and charge "tourists" several hundred dollars for fifteen minutes of being John Malkovich.

Soon, the activity becomes quite popular, especially between Maxine and Lotte who develop a lesbian love affair of sorts with Maxine seducing Malkovich while Lotte's inside his head. As Craig then competes with Lotte for Maxine by starting to control Malkovich's actions, the actor slowly begins to figure out what's going on. From that point on, a great battle ensues with many people trying to control, and thus be, John Malkovich.

Word of mouth -- along with being a fan of anyone in the cast (that includes Cameron Diaz) -- may prompt many teens to want to see this film.
For language and sexuality.
  • JOHN CUSACK plays a down on his luck puppeteer who finds a portal into John Malkovich's head and uses it to benefit himself sexually (an affair with Maxine via Malkovich) and career-wise (by taking over complete control of Malkovich). He also uses strong profanity and briefly appears to be using drugs.
  • CAMERON DIAZ plays his wife who develops a sexual identity crisis and longs for Maxine, having sex with her via being Malkovich during the encounters. She also uses strong profanity.
  • CATHERINE KEENER plays Craig's straight-talking, no nonsense coworker who decides they should profit by selling admission to Malkovich's head. She also uses strong profanity, briefly rolls a joint and has sex with Malkovich (to be with him as well as Lotte while she's in his head).
  • JOHN MALKOVICH plays a version of himself, a man who uses strong profanity, has sex with Maxine and becomes paranoid once he starts to figure out what's occurring.
  • ORSON BEAN plays Craig's boss, a lecherous old man with his own plans concerning Malkovich.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated comedy. Profanity is extreme with at least 17 "f" words being used, while other profanities and colorful phrases are also present. Several sexual encounters take place and include movement and related sounds, but no outright nudity, and involve a married couple competing to "virtually" have sex with a woman via experiencing it through another man. Sexually related dialogue is also present.

    Such use of another person for sex and later career gain shows bad attitudes (although all of it's played for surreal laughs), and each member of the married couple has a "virtual" affair. Some violence is present in the form of one person shooting at another with a gun, while another scene has a man subduing his wife at gunpoint, and then binding, gagging and locking her in an animal cage. Some punches are also thrown in other scenes.

    Some smoking and drinking are present, and one scene features a woman rolling a joint while another character has one in a holder. Beyond that and some suspenseful music, the rest of the film's categories have little or nothing in the way of major objectionable content. Nonetheless, should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home, we suggest that you more closely examine our detailed content listings.

  • In one of Craig's puppet shows, we see a miniature bottle of beer on a table.
  • Craig drinks a beer.
  • Craig has a drink with Maxine in a bar where others also drink.
  • Craig has a beer.
  • Malkovich has wine in a restaurant as do others.
  • Lotte mentions that she'll cook some lasagna, they'll smoke a joint and that tensions will melt away (about convincing Craig for them to have dinner with Maxine).
  • Lotte, Craig and Maxine have wine with dinner. Later, Maxine rolls a joint and we see that Craig has one in a holder.
  • After Malkovich recounts his weird experience where it felt like someone else controlled his body, his pal Charlie Sheen asks if he was "stoned." Malkovich says that he was and that it had nothing to do with it, but Sheen then replies that being in that condition explains everything.
  • People have drinks in a bar as does Malkovich. We then see that he's somewhat intoxicated.
  • Craig has a slightly bloody lip after being punched.
  • As we travel through Malkovich's subconscious, we see a flashback to when he was young and had wet his pants (and see urine by his feet) and other kids are making fun of him.
  • Malkovich has a little bit of a bloody nose after being punched.
  • While it's all played as a fantasy, Craig and Maxine have both for selling tickets to others to experience Malkovich from inside his head. Then he, Maxine, and Lotte compete for control of Malkovich and/or use him for their own sexual pleasures (either with him or through his point of view).
  • Some may see Craig as having some of both for putting on a sexually charged puppet street show where kids stop and watch, and for flirting and falling for Maxine despite being married to Lotte (and lies to her about having to work late when in reality he was with Maxine). Later, Lotte falls for Maxine and has sex with her (through Malkovich).
  • In a training tape an executive from the past refers to a diminutive woman as "you and your cursed kind" (although he's not consciously trying to be mean).
  • Lester mentions that he has to "piss sitting down like a girly-girl."
  • In a chimpanzee flashback, we see some poachers capturing several chimps.
  • As we travel through Malkovich's subconscious, we see a flashback to when he was young and had wet his pants and other kids are making fun of him.
  • Some viewers may find a scene where Craig crawls down a long, dark tunnel (leading to Malkovich's head) as initially a tiny bit suspenseful or unsettling, especially when he's suddenly sucked down through it (although most of it's played for humor).
  • Craig holds a gun on Lotte and then knocks her to the floor. She tries hitting him and so he pins her to the floor (and makes her make another sexual appointment with Maxine over the phone). He then drags her across the floor, and puts her in one of the animal cages (bound and gagged).
  • Lotte chases after and fires at Maxine while traveling through Malkovich's subconscious.
  • Handgun: Held by Craig on Lotte.
  • Fake sword: Worn by Malkovich during a play rehearsal.
  • Handgun: Used by Lotte to chase after and fire at Maxine.
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck?" "Who gives a sh*t?" "Holy sh*t," "Overrated sack of sh*t," "You're so full of sh*t," "Sh*thole," "Suck my d*ck," "Bastard," "Shut up," "Piss," "Fag," "Nuts" (crazy), "Half-assed," "Retard" and "Stoned" (high on drugs).
  • As Malkovich walks down the side of the Jersey turnpike, someone throws a can and hits him in the back of the head.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of ominous (as well as adventurous and dramatic) suspenseful music plays at various times during the movie.
  • None.
  • At least 16 "f" words (1 used sexually --with another possible one — as is the word "banging," 1 used with "mother"), 10 "s" words, 2 slang terms for or using male genitals ("d*ck"), 2 possible slang terms using female genitals ("c*nt"), 3 slang terms for breasts ("t*ts"), 3 damns, 3 hells, 2 asses (1 used with "hole"), 1 S.O.B., and 5 uses of "G-damn," 4 each of "Oh my God, "Oh God" and "Jesus," 3 of "God" and 1 use each of "Christ" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • Craig does a street puppet performance (in front of a kid) where his religious-based characters mention "fornication," with the female mentioning that visions of the pleasures take a hold of her soul. We then see the female puppet character thrusting her hips up against a wall, where on the other side the male character thrusts his hips into the air.
  • Dr. Lester tells Craig "And I'm not banging her if that's what you're implying" (talking about Floris when Craig mentioned her).
  • Maxine mentions Craig needing lines "to get inside a girl's pants." She then adds that if he ever got her, he wouldn't have a clue what to do with her.
  • Lester mentions that he wants to feel Floris' naked thigh next to his, that he wants her to shiver with thoughts of ecstasy "…as I penetrate her." Later he talks about some woman "wet with desire…"
  • As Maxine comments on whether Craig likes her "t*ts" and then wonders if he's a "fag," he comments that (what sounded like) he likes her "t*ts" and "I want to touch (or possibly f*ck) them."
  • As Lotte is inside Malkovich's head as he dries himself off after a shower, she makes some slightly aroused sounds.
  • Lotte then finds her sexual orientation somewhat confused and comments that it's like Malkovich has a feminine side and a vagina (presumably the portal), that the whole thing is "vaginal" and then adds it's like him having a penis and a vagina.
  • Lotte then mentions that she's a transsexual and is going to have sexual reassignment surgery.
  • Maxine tells Malkovich that "my nipples are at attention."
  • Maxine states that she felt Lotte's feminine longing for her through Malkovich's gaze, so they set up an appointment where Lotte will be back inside Malkovich's head when he and Maxine have sex. As such, Maxine shows up at Malkovich's place, they kiss, he feels her clothed breasts and asks if they should go to the boudoir (but she then makes him wait until Lotte's predesignated time). When that time arrives, Maxine crawls atop Malkovich and we see Lotte's view through Malkovich of Maxine and him feeling her clothed breasts (and we hear some heavy breathing) and her undoing his pants. We then see sexual movement (again from Malkovich's point of view) and hear sexual sounds from all three.
  • Craig encounters Maxine sitting on her office floor, legs spread and wearing a very short skirt that shows a lot of thigh.
  • We see Maxine straddled across Malkovich (with her showing a great deal of thigh and the sight of his pants around his ankles). With her still wearing her shirt (thus covering up any nudity), they have sex. Since Craig is inside Malkovich's head, he states and then makes the actor put his right hand on her clothed left breast. We then see more sexual movement and hear more sexual sounds as she has sex on top of him on a couch. Later, however, we do see a glimpse of her bare breasts.
  • Charlie Sheen tells Malkovich that perhaps Maxine is using him to channel some dead lesbian lover. He then says, "Let me know when you're done with her" and then adds, "Hot lesbian witches."
  • We see a female John Malkovich who shows a great deal of cleavage.
  • Craig argues with Lotte about "the first time you stuck your d*ck in Maxine" (while inside Malkovich).
  • With Craig controlling Malkovich for another sexual encounter with Maxine, the comment is made, "Hey, let's do it on his dining room table."
  • We then see Maxine and Malkovich (with Craig controlling him) in bed after sex. She sits with just a sheet between her spread legs and covering her breasts (as Malkovich briefly kisses her on the thigh).
  • A miscellaneous older woman states that she always wondered what it would feel like to have a penis and that she now knows (after being in someone's head).
  • Malkovich (controlled by Craig) says, "I'd f*ck me."
  • As we travel through Malkovich's subconscious, we see a couple having sex under the sheets (all we see is movement from under the sheets), some men's bare butts and then another scene where Malkovich is smelling some woman's panties.
  • Maxine smokes several times, while Lester holds an unlit cigar and some miscellaneous characters smoke.
  • Craig and Lotte's marriage is already strained and becomes more so as both fall for Maxine and get more involved in being Malkovich.
  • The others using Malkovich for their own gains, be they romantic/sexual or career motivated.
  • In one of Craig's puppet shows, the figure representing him knocks things over, off a table and breaks a mirror.
  • A father punches Craig after watching his sexually charged puppet show (put on in front of his daughter).
  • Maxine slaps Craig when both he and Lotte suddenly and simultaneously try to kiss her.
  • Craig holds a gun on Lotte and then knocks her to the floor. She tries hitting him and so he pins her to the floor (and makes her make another sexual appointment with Maxine over the phone). He then drags her across the floor, and puts her in one of the animal cages (bound and gagged).
  • As Malkovich finds the portal into his head, he runs into and knocks down some people waiting to get in.
  • As Malkovich walks down the side of the Jersey turnpike, someone throws a can and hits him in the back of the head.
  • Craig controls Malkovich and makes him mirror the above puppet scene, knocking things over, off a table and breaking a mirror.
  • Lotte pulls out a gun and repeatedly fires it at Maxine as she chases her.
  • Malkovich, who's drunk, takes a man who recognizes him and pushes him back into a pool table. In turn, the man punches Malkovich in the face.

  • Reviewed October 22, 1999 / Posted October 29, 1999

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