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"STRANGER THAN FICTION"
(2006) (Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor Mild Moderate Moderate None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor None None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Heavy Minor Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Dramedy: As he ends up falling for a bakery shop owner, an IRS auditor discovers that he's actually a character in the latest novel written by an author with a penchant for killing off her protagonists.
PLOT:
Harold Crick (WILL FERRELL) is an unassuming auditor for the IRS whose life is all about numbers, be that in his line of work, or how many strokes he uses to brush his teeth, steps are to the bus stop, and such. We know this because we hear a narrator (EMMA THOMPSON) describing his lifestyle. Suddenly one day, he can hear her too, an unnerving aural discovery that no one else -- such as his coworker Dave (TONY HALE) -- can hear, eventually leading Harold to a psychiatrist who assumes he's suffering from schizophrenia.

When he doesn't accept that since the voice has a better vocabulary than he does, he's sent to meet literary professor Dr. Jules Hilbert (DUSTIN HOFFMAN) who initially doesn't believe him. Yet, when Harold states that his mystery narrator uses the term "little did he know," Jules becomes intrigued and decides to try to decipher what writer is in his head.

Little does either initially know that it's Kay Eiffel (EMMA THOMPSON), a fairly famous author with a penchant for killing off her protagonists in her works. Since writer's block has her stymied regarding the latest such literary act, her publisher has sent writing assistant Penny Escher (QUEEN LATIFAH) to see if she can help. Of course, since Harold turns out to be the physical manifestation of Kay's latest novel, that means his life is literally in their hands.

All of which is too bad since he's finally started to come out of his shell, mostly after having become smitten with bohemian bakery shop owner Ana Pascal (MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL) who he's auditing for failure to pay her taxes. As their initially antagonistic relationship blossoms into something else, it's a race against time for Harold and Jules to figure out the narrator's identity before she kills off Harold in her book and thus, presumably, in real life.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of Ferrell or anyone else in the cast, they probably will, but might be surprised it's not a typical Ferrell film.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For some disturbing images, sexuality, brief language and nudity.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • WILL FERRELL plays an IRS auditor whose life is highly regimented and governed by numbers until he starts hearing Kay narrating his story. As he tries to figure out what that means, he ends up starting to live his life beyond his normal routine, including falling for and bedding Ana.
  • MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL plays a somewhat bohemian-style bakery shop owner who's being audited for not paying all of her taxes. She initially despises Harold, but eventually falls for and beds him. She briefly uses profanity.
  • EMMA THOMPSON plays a semi-famous writer who's facing severe writer's block in terms of finishing her latest novel, yet another where she kills off her protagonist. She's obsessed with finding a way to do that now, smokes a lot, and briefly uses profanity.
  • DUSTIN HOFFMAN plays something of an elitist and egotistical literary professor who nevertheless is helpful to Harold in uncovering the source of narration in his head. He briefly uses strong profanity.
  • QUEEN LATIFAH plays Kay's new assistant assigned by her publisher to help her finish her latest novel.
  • TONY HALE plays Harold's somewhat nerdy coworker who allows him to stay at his place after his own home is partially destroyed by accident.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    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).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this dramedy that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 1 "f" word, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some non-explicit, sexually related dialogue is present, a couple fools around before having off-screen sex (we see them in bed afterwards), and some men's bare butts are seen in passing in a shower.

    A man is struck by a bus and appears to be dead (and a bit bloodied), but is later seen alive (but injured) in a hospital bed. That scene and others (including a car going off a bridge into the water, and what looks like a suicidal leap - both of which are only imagined) may be unsettling or suspenseful for younger viewers, which also holds true for some nature documentary footage showing predatory animal behavior. Some scatological material is present, one character smokes quite a bit, there's brief alcohol present (and a drug-related comment is made), and some bad attitudes are present.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Kay drinks what may be liquor (or some other clear liquid) from a clear glass bottle.
  • Penny tells Kay that she doesn't abide (among other things) narcotics.
  • Harold and Ana have filled wine glasses in front of them with dinner.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We hear the sound of Jules urinating at a urinal.
  • Following Jules's previous advice not to do anything as usual, Harold takes a bottle, puts it under his clothing and urinates into it (we hear the sound).
  • We see footage from an old comedy that shows a restaurant patron exaggeratedly vomiting into a bucket from his seat (it looks like a fire hose stream of water -- seen from a distance).
  • In voice-over narration, Kay comments on a pay phone Harold is trying to use, and it being covered in mucous (we see just that).
  • A boy wipes out on his bike in the path of an approaching bus. Harold darts out and saves the boy but is hit quite hard by the bus that knocks him back to the street, motionless. We see a little blood on the bus windshield, some from Harold's mouth and a little around his head (briefly seen). Some think he's dead (as do we based on where the story has been headed), but we later see him in a hospital with three limbs in casts and talk of various other injuries.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Ana admits that she's only paid taxes for the government services she believes in and/or supports (thus, she's paid less than 100% of what she owes).
  • Kay talks about the photo of a suicide jumper, commenting on the blood around the head and snapped limbs, but also the serene look on their face (none of which is seen - but some viewers might not like the reference).
  • In a hospital looking for inspiration about how to kill off her novel's main character, Kay asks a worker where the people who are about to die are located (she doesn't seem to realize she's exhibiting a callous attitude toward such people).
  • Harold uses IRS records to look up Kay's phone number.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • We see an aerial view looking down on Kay standing on the edge of a building. She then jumps and we see her falling, but then note -- when Penny arrives -- that she's really in her office, standing on her desk, trying to visualize some way to kill off the main character in her next novel.
  • A boy on his bike suddenly darts in front of Kay's car, causing her to swerve, lose control, and blast through the side of a bridge. We then see her car plummet down and sink in a body of water, but then see this is just an imagined view of her trying to find another way to kill off her protagonist.
  • We see what looks like a human skeleton (possibly in a painting) in Jules's office (younger kids might be frightened or unnerved by it, but no one else).
  • Harold watches a TV nature program that shows large crabs chasing after an injured seagull (and then a pile of them on top of it), talk of a caged monkey that will soon have its eyes plucked out and skin ripped off, etc. (none of which is seen other than the alive monkey in the cage), and then two views of crocodiles suddenly grabbing antelope or similar creatures in the water).
  • Some viewers might worry about Harold when Jules says that Kay kills off all of her protagonists.
  • A boy wipes out on his bike in the path of an approaching bus. Harold darts out and saves the boy but is hit quite hard by the bus that knocks him back to the street, motionless. We see a little blood on the bus windshield, some from Harold's mouth and a little around his head (briefly seen). Some think he's dead (as do we based on where the story has been headed), but we later see him in a hospital with three limbs in casts and talk of various other injuries.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Dramatic irony will f*ck you every time," "You're staring at my t*ts," "Dude," "You miscreant," "Dear imperialist swine," "Shut up," "Idiot," "Shook the hell out of it," "It's not schizophrenia, it's just a voice in my head," "A real creep," "I ogled you," "Making an ass of himself," "Get bent," "Just to screw with you," "Holy crap in hell," "Are you nuts?" "I may already be dead, just not typed" and "I can't die right now, it's bad timing."
  • Ana sports various tattoos, including a large one on her arm.
  • We see a miscellaneous guy with spiked hair.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A wrecking machine claw suddenly blasts through Harold's wall, causing a great deal of property damage (the demolitions guys learn they're at the wrong place).
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 1 slang term for breasts ("t*ts"), 4 damns, 2 craps, 2 hells, 1 ass, 1 hell, 1 S.O.B., 5 uses of "Oh my God" and 2 uses each of "G-damn" and "My God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Kay narrates about Harold having fantasies about Ana (as we see his point of view looking at her clothed chest from the side), including her hands caressing his face, her shaving her legs in a bathtub, and her being naked and stretched across his bed. Noticing his gaze, Ana states, "You're staring at my t*ts."
  • About the above scene where he looked at her clothed chest, Harold apologizes to Ana, stating, "I ogled you."
  • Ana shows a little cleavage while bent over (and the camera sees down her top).
  • As Jules and Harold chat in the men's locker room, we can see some men showering in the background of the shot that's out of focus, and various pillars block any otherwise explicit views of them. However, as Jules and Harold then walk through that shower area, we see various men's bare butts in passing (and another man just wrapping a towel around himself).
  • Kay describes various styles of guitars, including one with a double-neck where she says, "I'm compensating for something -- guess what?" (a penis reference).
  • Harold tells Ana, "I want you," but is saying it in a nonsexual fashion.
  • Smitten with Harold playing the guitar for her, Ana suddenly passionately kisses him on her sofa (both are clothed). She then straddles him and they continue kissing, with him starting to say something and her interrupting with, "I know, I want you too." He then removes her top layer of clothing (nothing explicit is seen) and the next thing we see is them in bed, post sex (under the covers, we see just their bare shoulders).
  • In bed but clothed, Harold says he has to tell Ana something, and then gives her some helpful tax advice. She thinks that's silly, but then suggestively tells him, "Come over here and talk a little more tax talk," adding because she likes it so much.
  • We see Jules in just a swimsuit as he jumps into a pool.
  • SMOKING
  • Kay smokes at least 6 times.
  • About some cigarettes we don't see, Penny asks Kay if she smoked all of them. Kay sarcastically replies that no, they came pre-smoked.
  • Penny wants to give Kay a nicotine patch for her smoking, but Kay doesn't think she needs it.
  • As things to be thankful for are introduced, we see a box of nicotine patches drop down onto Kay's typewriter.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Harold was engaged (but his fiancée left him for another man).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The comment that you don't control your fate.
  • Breaking out of and/or free from highly regimented lifestyles.
  • The IRS, its auditors, and being audited.
  • Ana admits that she's only paid taxes for the government services she believes in and/or supports (thus, she's paid less than 100% of what she owes).
  • Kay talks about the photo of a suicide jumper, commenting on the blood around the head and snapped limbs, but also the serene look on their face (none of which is seen).
  • Penny wants to give Kay a nicotine patch for her smoking, but Kay doesn't think she needs it.
  • Trying to convince a publishing house receptionist that he needs to see Kay, Harold first says he's her brother, then her brother-in-law, then that he's married to her brother.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Trying to get Kay to talk some more (in her voice over narration), Harold does various things in his place, including thrashing and kicking a lamp.
  • Harold watches a TV nature program that shows large crabs chasing after an injured seagull (and then a pile of them on top of it), talk of a caged monkey that will soon have its eyes plucked out and skin ripped off, etc. (none of which is seen other than the alive monkey in the cage), and then two views of crocodiles suddenly grabbing antelope or similar creatures in the water).
  • A wrecking machine claw suddenly blasts through Harold's wall, causing a great deal of property damage (the demolitions guys learn they're at the wrong place).
  • A boy wipes out on his bike in the path of an approaching bus. Harold darts out and saves the boy but is hit quite hard by the bus that knocks him back to the street, motionless. We see a little blood on the bus windshield, some from Harold's mouth and a little around his head (briefly seen). Some think he's dead (as do we based on where the story has been headed), but we later see him in a hospital with three limbs in casts and talk of various other injuries.



  • Reviewed October 25, 2006 / Posted November 10, 2006

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [American Made] [Battle of the Sexes] [Flatliners] [A Question of Faith] [Stronger]

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