Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 172 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The lives of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Cage), author Susan Orlean (Streep) and orchid poacher John Laroche (Cooper) become strangely intertwined as each one's search for passion collides with the others' in this adaptation of the best-selling "The Orchid Thief." [Columbia Pictures]
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 40
  2. Negative: 2 out of 40
  1. 100
    Screenwriting this smart, inventive, passionate and rip-roaringly funny is a rare species. It's magic.
  2. 100
    It's typical of the nerve, the bravado, the sheer giddy playfulness and sense of fun that characterize what has to be the boldest and most imaginative studio film of the year.
  3. The notion of meta has never been diddled more mega than in this giddy Möbius strip of a movie, a contrivance so whizzy and clever that even when it tangles at the end, murked like swampy southwestern Florida itself, the stumble has quotation marks around it.
  4. It's a testament to Cage's canny performance and Jonze's seamless use of special effects that you believe Charlie and Donald are two entirely different people.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    The movie ends in a burst of violence that we are unprepared for and don't believe. Maybe it's the film's final joke. It's a miscalculation -- though a calculated one -- but it does not erase one's fond memories of all the odd, deeply humorous behavior that preceded it.
  6. Snags on the fact that neither story depicted -- not Kaufman's and especially not Orlean's -- is enough to sustain more than an incidental interest.
  7. Virtually everything that happens in Adaptation is almost juvenile showing off - daring to make a film that is in search of a script.

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 62 out of 77
  2. Negative: 12 out of 77
  1. Nov 12, 2013
    Very witty and self referential. Entertaining in a highly ironic way. All of the cliches that the protagonist is supposed to avoid come into play, down to the "act of god" in the end, and the strange drama that comes out of left field. It was ironically bad, which made it ironically good, if that makes any sense. Expand
  2. Jan 1, 2013
    A film about the screenplay which is currently being written within the film and how it ends. Phenomenal and extraordinary. The lives of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Cage), author Susan Orlean (Streep) and orchid poacher John Laroche (Cooper) become strangely intertwined as each one's search for passion collides with the others' in this adaptation of the best-selling "The Orchid Thief." This brilliant meta-narrative and hilarious spoof of Hollywood's formulaic approach to telling stories. "Adaptation" came about because of Jonze and real-life writer Kaufman, who had worked previously on "Being John Malkovich." Cage's sweaty, uncomfortable turn in both roles is marvelous. I miss the vintage Nicolas Cage in well made films, and his performance here still amazes me every time. Enough can't be said about the performances of a stellar cast, Strep and Cooper (won Oscar), that exceed lofty expectations. Original, clever, beautiful, tragic, and I could go on. Expand
  3. Oct 8, 2013
    "Adaptation" is one of the most original movies ever made. It follows Hollywood screenwriter Charlie Kaufman played by Nicholas Cage and his twin brother Donald who is also played by Nicholas Cage. Charlie is adapting Susan Orleans' novel the Orchid Thief. A movie that has an actor playing two roles, and main story is about making a movie about flowers. Already that sounds like this could be a mess of a film. Adaption isn't though. Nicholas Cage's performance is the best of his career and couldn't be replicated by anyone else. The twin brothers have vastly different personas and aren't annoying at all. The performances in this movie are all superb. You feel the struggle that Charlie goes through to make this movie as he wants this movie to be something original and unique. He doesn't want the generic car chases, or fights. Adaptation is one of those movies that gets better with more viewings, and a movie that I revisit almost every month. Expand
  4. Jan 6, 2013
    Nic Cages best movie that Charlie Kaufman comes up with on the spot. The ultimate meta-movei with the best screenplay ever written or one of the top ones. Expand
  5. Oct 24, 2013
    Charlie Kaufman writes a screenwriting master class with in the movie. Many rules are broken, the third wall seems to disappeared in a unexplainable way, yet you always remain in the universe of the story. Directing is fine, no risks where taken, acting is good. Expand
  6. Mar 5, 2012
    Adaptation is further proof that no director does off-the-wall filmmaking like Spike Jonze, and no writer plays with the concept of reality quite as well as Charlie Kaufman. Adaptation is an extremely appropriate title for the film, which is an adaptation of and adaptation of an adaptation (the film follows a fictionalised Kaufman struggling to adapt a book into a screenplay, and he ends up writing himself trying to adapt the book into his film - that's three levels of reality). Kaufman's writing, as per usual, is exceptionally clever, funny, and unconventional. He has a lot to say about being a writer, the film industry in general and social ineptitude. He bravely creates an exaggerated version of himself, a depressed, self-hating and bordering on paranoid personality, played brilliantly by Nicolas Cage, to act as narrator and ground the film's undeniably odd story in some semblance of reality. The other characters in the film, all weird and wonderfully warped versions of real people, add a little something extra to the film, whether it be Meryl Streep's passionate and driven, but quite tragic journalist Susan Orlean, or Chris Cooper's slightly batty but compelling activist and orchid hunter John Laroche or Brian Cox's universally respected but rather arrogant screenwriting lecturer Robert McKee. I also found the introduction of Charlie Kaufman's fictional twin brother Donald (Cage again) an interesting concept - it's almost as though Kaufman has a love-hate relationship with himself, and differing aspects of his personality, with each of the brothers representing particular personality traits. The "Charlie" part of himself is thoughtful, intellectual, and occasionally brilliant, but at the same time is cripplingly shy and socially awkward. The "Donald" part of himself is charming, confident and interesting, but his writing is uninspired, mainstream drudgery. The film could be commenting on Kaufman's desire to be better known and more loved, but also being unwilling to dumb down his writing to achieve this. Adaptation is an extremely effective film when talking about filmmaking, writing, inspiration and identity, but sometimes I felt Kaufman took these concepts a little too far. The film's finale, especially, is quite jarring when compared to the rest of the film - it seems like Kaufman and Jonze have given up the originality and consistent tone of their film at this point in favour of a final act from a run-of-the-mill thriller. This portion of the film is turgid, melodramatic and feels simply wrong, threatening to overwhelm the brilliant subtlety and quiet confidence of the of the first hour and twenty minutes or so. I'm also not sure whether Charlie's hallucination sequences were really necessary to demonstrate his sleep-deprived, uninspired state of mind either. Even with its hugely disappointing conclusion and minor artistic niggles, Adaptation is an insightful, original and funny reality-distorting piece of cinema from two of the greatest talents working in the film industry today. Being John Malkovich undeniably pulled off the same ideas more effectively, but Adaptation still has a lot to say, especially when taken as a companion piece to the aforementioned masterpiece. Expand

See all 77 User Reviews


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