Movies! Stand-up! Celebrity Roasts! If you're looking for laughs, you just might find some here! Stranger Than Fiction allows Will Ferrell to reveal new dimensions; Borat finds Sascha Baron Cohen taking his most obnoxious character on an American road trip; insults reach new highs [and lows] in the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner, and Finesse Mitchell – Snap Famous showcases one of the few consistently funny SNL cast members in his stand-up act…
Stranger Than Fiction
Stranger Than Fiction could be described as a magic realism dramedy. The fantasy element of having a man – Harold Crick [Will Ferrell] suddenly pick up on a narrator's voice – as she writes a novel about a character named Harold Crick – subtly alters our perceptions as well as his. When lightning strikes [metaphorically speaking] with a rerun of a ten-year old TV interview of Karen [Kay] Eiffel [Thompson], Crick's existence is jolted – as is that of the man who has been trying to help him, Professor Julius Hilbert [Dustin Hoffman]. Another fantasy element, in the character of Crick's wristwatch, seems at first absurd. As the film plays out, though, we begin to accept it as easily as we have accepted the narrator.
There is much that is metaphysical about Stranger Than Fiction. It asks questions about the worth of a man's life versus that of a great work of art. It also challenges ethics and morals: once Eiffel learns that her character is a real person, does she complete her masterpiece in the original manner – or does she find a way to let him live? What if he thinks it right for her to carry on on her original path?
Shot in a palette that seems heavy on blues and grays, Stranger Than Fiction is the kind of movie that a comic actor might undertake to show of his dramatic chops – or to see if he has any to begin with. Ferrell's work here establishes him as a fine actor [and you have no idea how bizarre it is to be saying that…]. He matches the amazing Emma Thompson – and Hoffman, for that matter – note for note.
In smaller, but no less crucial roles, Queen Latifah and Maggie Gyllenhaal also stand out. Queen Latifah makes Penny Escher, an assistant assigned to Eiffel by her publisher, a smart, tough and empathetic character. Gyllenhaal is wonderful as Ana Pascal, the baker whose audit plunges Crick into a whirlwind of emotions he had never experienced before.
It may be a clich