Filed Under:

Home Video Picks: 'Being John Malkovich'

Play associated audio

Time now for a home viewing recommendation from our film critic Bob Mondello. This time Bob urges taking the plunge from the seven-and-a-half-th floor into the Criterion Collection's Blu-ray release of Being John Malkovich.

1999 Weirdness run amok: Struggling puppeteer John Cusack gets a filing job in an office building where one floor — seven-and-a-half — isn't quite tall enough for him to stand, but does have a portal into the mind of actor John Malkovich. As he tells co-worker Catherine Keener, "you see the world through John Malkovich's eyes, and then after about 15 minutes, you're spit out into a ditch on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike."

When the two decide to charge cash for entry to Malkovich's mind, things get complicated, first for the puppeteer's marriage when his wife (Cameron Diaz) takes the trip, and even more-so when Malkovich enters his own mind — the ultimate exercise in narcissism — and finds a world of Malkoviches.

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann and director Spike Jonze have decently strange sensibilities, so it makes sense that the commentary track by Michel Gondry, who made Kaufman's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is a little strange too.

There's also a documentary about puppetry, a Malkovich interview conducted by comedian John Hodgman of all people (who elicits the info that Kevin Bacon was the first choice to play the part ultimately played by Charlie Sheen). And Spike Jonze even finds a way to make an extra about photos he took on the set feel odd, imagining himself looking back from 2028 at the pictures in a new format that allows viewers to see the film and all its extras in half a second.

Mostly though, Being John Malkovich is worth watching for itself — an enduringly quirky comedy with grand metaphysical implications, that you can just watch because it's a real trip-and-a-half.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

No Longer Omar: Actor Michael K. Williams On Lucky Breaks And Letting Go

Over the course of his career, Williams says he's learned to separate himself from his characters (like The Wire's Omar). In HBO's The Night Of, he plays a powerful prison inmate named Freddy.
NPR

#FoodPorn, Circa 1600s: Then And Now, It Was More About Status Than Appetite

A new study of old masters finds that capturing and showing off decadent and expensive meals is a decidedly old-fashioned practice. Like today's Instagrammers, it was all about projecting an image.
NPR

Michelle Obama: From Reluctant Political Spouse To Pop Culture Icon

The first lady speaks Monday night at her third Democratic National Convention. Her popular image is a transformation from how she was first introduced to the country eight years ago.
NPR

The Big Internet Brands Of The '90s — Where Are They Now?

Verizon's purchase of Yahoo will close the book on one of the oldest Internet companies. What happened to the other famous 90s brands, like GeoCities, Netscape and CompuServe? A nerdy remembrance.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.