The premise of this movie is wonderful — the protagonist, Harold Crick, begins hearing a woman’s voice narrating his life, “but with a better vocabulary.” As he listens to her narration, he begins examining his life, and realizes changes are possible. Will Ferrell plays the part of Harold Crick, and though I am not generally a Will Ferrell fan, he does an outstanding job in this role (for which he got a Golden Globe award). He is very believable, and his humor is understated. Emma Thompson is the author whose voice he is hearing; she is so quirky and cynical, she makes you shake your head in disbelief even while laughing. Dustin Hoffman and Queen Latifah shine in their smaller, supporting roles, their understated humor making you smile and chuckle. And Maggie Gyllenhaal plays the rebellious baker, whose non-payment of taxes leads to an audit and a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies (fresh from the oven). Warning: You must have baked goods (preferably fresh cookies) on hand while watching this movie, or you will regret it. Gyllenhall’s description of treats for her study group is so sensual, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
It is possible one of the reasons I love this movie so much is that I can identify with Harold Crick. He has some obsessive-compulsive tendencies (a well-organized closet, counting brush strokes as he brushes his teeth, keeps to a precise time schedule, etc.), and I have a few tendencies in that area. While Harold is an agent for the Internal Revenue Service, I was an account clerk — both occupations where a certain amount of such tendencies is beneficial. And there was a time when I wanted more LIFE in my life.
One word of caution: This movie is about death. Yes, I know I just wrote about having more LIFE in life, but isn’t an awareness of death just the thing to make a person more aware of life? You see, the tension in the movie is there because the author is writing a book, and she’s trying to find a way to kill her main character, who happens to be Harold. So there is a certain amount of black humor about death, and a rather no-nonsense look at it. This movie will probably be best enjoyed by young people who figure death will never happen to them, and people who have thought about their own mortality and come to grips with it. It really is a celebration of all those little things in life that make it worth living.
[This DVD is rated PG-13, defies categorization, has a great soundtrack, and on a scale of 1-5, I’d give it a 5.]