[Screen It]


(2002) (Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Moderate Heavy Mild Mild
Mild Mild Mild None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Extreme Moderate Mild Moderate Moderate

Comedy: While trying to adapt an author's novel about a flamboyant orchid thief, a screenwriter ends up writing himself into his own screenplay while becoming obsessed with the writer.
Charlie Kaufman (NICOLAS CAGE) is a neurotic and self-doubting screenwriter who's been assigned to adapt author Susan Orlean's (MERYL STREEP) novel, "The Orchid Thief," into a screenplay. Yet, he's having trouble doing so, especially when pressured by studio executive Valerie (TILDA SWINTON) and his agent, Marty (RON LIVINGSTON), to complete it as soon as possible.

It doesn't help matters that his more freewheeling twin brother, Donald (NICOLAS CAGE), has decided to take up screenwriting as well. Having attended classes by screenwriting guru Robert McKee (BRIAN COX), Donald turns out to have a knack for it despite doing everything that Charlie believes is wrong from an artistic standpoint. Unlike his brother, Donald has no problem with the ladies, whether it's Amelia (CARA SEYMOUR) or make-up artist Caroline (MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL).

As Charlie attempts to write this story that he believes isn't filmable, we see flashbacks of Susan at work at the New Yorker writing her book, as well as ones even further back where she interviews and eventually falls under the spell of her titular subject, John Laroche (CHRIS COOPER), and his passionate lifestyle and mindset.

With time running out, Charlie tries various ways of finishing his script, ranging from finally meeting Susan to actually writing himself and his brother into the story.

If they're fans of anyone in the cast or the filmmakers behind "Being John Malkovich," they just might.
For language, sexuality, some drug use and violent images.
  • NICOLAS CAGE plays twin brothers, one of whom is a neurotic and self-doubting screenwriter who's trying to adapt a novel into a script and becomes obsessed with the author. He also masturbates and uses some strong profanity. The other is a more free-spirited type who also decides to be a screenwriter, but is far more successful at it than his brother is.
  • MERYL STREEP plays an author who interviews Laroche about his involvement with orchids and wants to be passionate about something in her life like he is. She ends up having an affair with him, uses drugs, strong profanity, evidently poses topless for some porn site photos and wants to kill someone in the end while deranged.
  • CHRIS COOPER plays a conceited entrepreneur who constantly changes his way of earning a living that include stealing orchids for others to extract some sort of drug from them and running an Internet porn site. He also uses strong profanity, smokes and has sex with Susan.
  • TILDA SWINTON plays a studio executive who wants Charlie to finish the script adaptation of Orlean's work.
  • MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL plays a movie makeup artist who starts seeing Donald.
  • RON LIVINGSTON plays Charlie's agent who just wants him to finish the script and uses strong profanity.
  • BRIAN COX plays the legendary script writing instructor who ends up helping Charlie. He uses strong profanity.


    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).

    The following is a quick look at the content found in this R-rated "dramedy." Profanity consists of at least 38 "f" words, along with other expletives and colorful phrases. Sexually explicit dialogue is present, as are various sexual encounters that include movement, sounds and brief/partial nudity. Bare breasts are seen in person and in photographs (involving Internet porn), while some masturbatory behavior occurs. A woman's genitals are seen as she gives birth.

    Violence includes several fatal and bloody car crashes, a fatal alligator attack, an accidental shooting and some punching. Some of those scenes could startle or disturb viewers, while various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes. Several characters drink or smoke, while some snort some sort of drug extract and are high.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • Charlie, Donald and Amelia have wine.
  • Various people have wine.
  • Charlie has a beer and Donald has a drink at a party where others drink and we see many beer bottles.
  • Laroche has a beer in front of him.
  • Charlie and McKee have beer in a bar.
  • We see a person snorting some sort of drug (as John states that American Indians wanted the wild orchid just to extract the drug from it and that the people liked to get "stoned"). Others appear high. Later, Susan snorts some of that drug and we see her reacting to that.
  • We see a beer on a table.
  • Susan snorts more or the orchid drug extract.
  • During some time lapse photography, we see a dead animal quickly decompose with lots of maggots at work.
  • We see a blood-covered baby after birth.
  • A man has blood on him after a car accident.
  • We hear a comment about anal leakage due to dysentery.
  • An accidental gunshot hits a person in the arm and there's blood on the victim's shirt.
  • A person is rather bloody after a bad car crash.
  • Charlie has some bloody scrapes on his head.
  • For those who don't believe in evolution, there's some material about that.
  • Laroche uses three American Indians as his means of stealing rare orchids from a state park/reserve (since charges won't be filed against the Indians).
  • Susan ends up cheating on her husband with John.
  • Several people chase after and intend to kill others.
  • As a person holds a gun on another, a third person opens a car door into the gun holder, knocking them down. Two people then run into a swamp at night (with snakes and alligators) and try to hide from the gun holder and another person who hunt for them.
  • A passenger flies out of a car and onto the road when a car crashes into a truck in a bad accident.
  • Several people chase after another person in the swamp.
  • An alligator grabs a person and thrashes him about in the swamp, killing him.
  • Handgun: Held by a person on another person.
  • Rifle: Carried by a man and accidentally fired into a person's arm.
  • Phrases: "Only thing that makes sense to me in this f*cked up world," "We're f*cked," "F*cking spoiled bitch," "What the f*ck am I doing here?" "Any f*cking sense," "Are you out of your f*cking mind?" "That's f*cking amazing," "Shut the f*ck up," "Who the f*ck are you?" "Get the f*ck down," "F*ck you," "Bullsh*t," "(You fat) Piece of sh*t," "Blow job," "Jerks off," "All I do is sit on my fat ass," "Losers," "Screw" (nonsexual), "Idiot," "Suckers," "Pissing contest," "Shut up," "Bitch," "Chicks" (women), "I suck," "Screw it," "Don't know crap," "Bloody" (adjective) and "Old lady" (girlfriend).
  • A truck suddenly slams into a car.
  • Another car crash might startle viewers.
  • An alligator grabs a person and thrashes him about in the swamp, killing him.
  • A mild amount of such music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 38 "f" words (2 used sexually as is the term "did it"), 12 "s" words, 8 assess (3 used with "hole"), 1 crap, 1 damn, 1 hell, 6 uses of "G-damn," 4 of "God," 3 of "Oh God" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "For God's sakes," "Oh Jesus" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • We see a woman's genitals as she delivers birth.
  • Amelia shows some cleavage in a low-cut dress.
  • Laroche uses the terms "make love to it" and "love making" in reference to an orchid and pollinating insect.
  • A person jokes about something or someone probably "giving a good blow job" in reference to having no teeth. Someone then jokingly states that someone else "did it" in a van.
  • We see a woman's bare breasts and then note that was just a masturbatory fantasy as we see Charlie's hand moving under the covers in bed (but Donald comes in and interrupts him).
  • A person comments on a "push in the bush" and does a little pelvic thrusting while saying that.
  • We see a woman moving on top of a man as they have sex and we hear him climaxing (no explicit nudity). We then see that he's sitting nude in a chair but don't see anything explicit.
  • Charlie's agent asks (about a woman) if he "f*cked her up the ass." About Orlean, he says, "I'd f*ck her up the ass."
  • Laroche tells Susan that his latest endeavor is Internet pornography and we see some photos of bare-breasted women.
  • Charlie masturbates and imagines seeing Susan moving on top of him and we hear sexual sounds from both of them.
  • We see Caroline in Charlie's house wearing just a t-shirt.
  • A comment is made about a woman being a lesbian.
  • Donald jokes that he's going to look at Laroche's porn site for research.
  • We see more photos of bare-breasted women, one of them being of Susan. Later, John mentions that his porn site is going to be big.
  • We briefly see John having sex on top of Susan and we see movement and the side of her bare breast.
  • We see John and Susan making out.
  • John is nude, but Susan's body blocks our view of his crotch area. She's then on top of him in a robe moving in a sexual fashion (with sounds), but they're interrupted (and we see his bare butt several times).
  • Laroche smokes more than 5 times, McKee smokes once and several miscellaneous characters smoke.
  • We see a flashback where Laroche's parents and uncle were killed in a car accident. We then hear that Laroche's wife left him.
  • Susan leaves her husband for John.
  • The art of screenwriting and the life of the screenwriter.
  • Being passionate about things in life.
  • Drug use.
  • Adultery.
  • Insecurity and neuroses.
  • We see a person drown and then see a person hit on the back of the head and then hit again. We hear that a person was murdered and see some punching, but don't see the impact (all as Susan narrates part of her writing).
  • In a flashback, there's an accident where a car is backing up and a truck smashes into it, killing several people and bloodying one.
  • As a person holds a gun on another, a third person opens a car door into the gun holder, knocking them down.
  • An accidental gunshot hits a person in the arm and there's blood on the victim's shirt.
  • A passenger flies out of a car and onto the road when a car crashes into a truck in a bad accident. That person dies.
  • An alligator grabs a person and thrashes him about in the swamp, killing him.

  • Reviewed November 6, 2002 / Posted December 20, 2002

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