Making the Grades
Harold Crick's (Will Ferrell) life runs like clockwork. Every morning the methodical tax accountant counts his brush strokes as he cleans his teeth. He counts the time it takes to tie his tie. Then he leaves his beige colored apartment and counts his steps across the street on the way to work in a grey office cubicle.
But one day, while going through his morning schedule, he hears a voice in his head. A woman, with an English accent, begins narrating the activities of his life.
Little does he know, the voice belongs to Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson), a chain-smoking novelist who is suffering from writer's block while trying to finish her latest book. Contemplating how to kill her hero, Kay visualizes suicide, automobile accidents and life-threatening injuries for Harold without realizing he is a real person. And as she puts her thoughts to paper, Harold hears her words in his mind.
At first the voice is only irritating and distracting. However, things change when Harold is sent to audit Ana (Maggie Gyllenhall), and falls in love with the young bakery owner. Reaching out in his own bumbling but sincere way, the socially clumsy accountant tries to express his interest in the outgoing, bohemian baker until he learns the invisible narrator is planning his imminent death. Suddenly agitated with the omnipotent director of his destiny, he seeks the help of a coffee-guzzling literary professor (Dustin Hoffman) as he tries to find a way to edit his story's ending.
As would be the case with most of us, Harold's mundane routine is considerably altered when faced with the reality of death. Unfortunately, in addition to the taxman's life changing events, this fabricated tale contains excessive use of addictive substances, infrequent profanities, some brief male buttock nudity and an accident that results in bloody injuries. As well, the scriptwriters appear to be in a rush to get past the niceties of courtship and get Ana and Harold into bed.
Still, Stranger Than Fiction does offer a creative script with attention to detail and cast of quirky but loveable characters, while slyly poking fun at stuffy literary professionals who take their careers far too seriously. Giving older teens and adults a chance to reexamine the trivial details of their own lives, this film, in an odd sort of way, celebrates life while simultaneously trying to exterminate the hero.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Stranger Than Fiction.
How does Harold’s daily activities change once he discovers he is about to die? What things would you pursue if you knew your death was imminent? What life ambitions would you want to accomplish?
Ana offers milk and warm cookies to Harold after a long day of work. What foods or activities comfort you after a difficult day?
How does the director use details like color, background settings and clothing choices to add to the characters’ personalities?