From the team of writer Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze who gave us Being John Malkovich comes another weird and entertaining ride and this time with more layers than an onion.

For those that don’t know Being John Malkovich, it’s the tale of a poor lonely man who takes an unusual and somewhat awkward new job. There he finds a way into someone else’s life. Using it to make money he finds that it’s use becomes addictive. Though with a slightly unexpected twist in the end he finds love and happiness.

These themes are repeated in Adaptation but the way in which they are told in this 115minute film are so complex and self referential that the film could as easily be called Analogy. As to how much of the story is based in reality, quite a bit by the looks of it, but it has been fed through the distortion machine to make it the product of Jonze and Kaufman. As so many of the things written by the Kaufman character in his script happen in the movie it becomes like a big in-joke for the audience. The flashbacks upon flashback upon flash forwards become quite disorientating and when characters from these scenes actually meet it seems surreal. The result is a film that can be taken as a reasonably straightforward drama, but is a lot more fun if you immerse yourself in the weirdness that the film revels in.

Not to say that the film doesn’t have a depth beyond plain quirkiness. The insights into the human condition ring true. The only thing that Merryl Streap’s characters is passionate about is wanting to find something to feel passionate about. Her intellectual friends sit around a dinner party vacuously laughing at Larouche, the man her book is based on. The laughter is actually conditioning to prevent anyone from stepping outside the social norms the way that this oddball character does. The Larouche character may be obsessive about his various interests, but he is open and honest about it. An interesting twist to his character is that when his interests finish they finish, much like when you finish reading a book – there is no more to read, it is over. This is an analogy for writing a story, once it is written it is finished, move on.

Other analogy’s in the film include that Kaufmans twin is writing a story where the three main characters are actually the same person, while the Kaufman twins themselves are probably sides to Kaufman himself’s personality.

The two sides of Kaufman’s personality

On a larger level the twin themes here are Sex and Growth and even these are intertwined. Sex is examined thorough Kaufman’s loneliness’, Internet porn and uses plants a lot. Growth is presented as the obsession that is the driving force behind all of the characters whether it is overcoming writers block, finding the mythical ghost orchard or learning what passion is, facilitation that is part of learning and of course plants.

As with Being John Malkovich the films is packed with humor. Not so much gags as situations which are delivered so seriously that they become funnier and funnier. One that many students will identify with is the author fighting writers block who uses little ransoms to work like “I won’t have that coffee until I have written two pages”.

There is a lovely scene for fans of Being John Malkovich involving filming the scene where Malkovich goes through his own porthole, this time with Kaufman standing to the edge of the set feeling uncomfortable and trying to not be in the way.

Trivia on this film revolves around its unusual director. Spike Jonze (born Adam Spiegel) played the redneck Conrad Vig in Three Kings and has married into the film dynasty of the Coppola family through his wife Sophia. That makes him kin to the whole swag of Francis For C, Roman C, Tania Shire, Nicolas Cage and of course his wife a director in her own right with The Virgin Suicides.

This is one of the best movie I saw in 2002 because it’s story is insightful, the delivery is funny and the acting and direction very well done. Defiantly a movie that you won’t be able to predict the ending on.