Being John Malkovich

User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 434 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 15 out of 434

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User Reviews

  1. MikeN
    Aug 9, 2003
    8
    A good movie, but way overrated here. This is not better than friggin Casablanca people. It's an inventive, interesting experiment that maybe goes on a little too long. Well worth seeing, but there's no need to put out a collector's DVD with more footage, thanks anyway.
  2. Jeremy
    Oct 16, 2003
    9
    A strikingly original and often brilliant movie that seems to run out of steam in the last 15 minutes, but then again, maybe its supposed to.
  3. DanC.
    Mar 8, 2004
    10
    One of the better films of the past few years.
  4. Diana
    Mar 11, 2005
    10
    An amazing movie. funny and disturbing.
  5. ErikH.
    May 12, 2006
    10
    An entirely unique concept brought together by solid performance (particularly Diaz, Cusak, and Malkovich). A rare film treat that provides both laughs and contemplation. It doesn't have the traditional "happy ending" many viewers demand, but neither did "Hamlet" and I hear that got decent reviews.
  6. FelixQ.
    Jul 25, 2006
    9
    This is a modern day classic. You have to be a certain type of person to enjoy the humor, and if you are you do so immensely. If this kind of comedy had been applied to a slightly more controlled plot or concept, it would've belly flopped. Instead, it takes an idea that's just so far out there and laughable, combines it with characters that are all completely unaware of their This is a modern day classic. You have to be a certain type of person to enjoy the humor, and if you are you do so immensely. If this kind of comedy had been applied to a slightly more controlled plot or concept, it would've belly flopped. Instead, it takes an idea that's just so far out there and laughable, combines it with characters that are all completely unaware of their own short-comings and moronity, and pretends that it's a serious film. With all the irony flying around in this movie, it HAS to pretend to take itself seriously- as seriously as the characters take themselves. I think where this movie lost that final point for me was in the tone. Yes, it needed to be dark to pull it off, and yes, the mundane nature of the characters' lives had to be reflected somehow in the film itself, but after a comedy so ludicrous and dark one has to be able to feel giddy, not slightly morbid. Too much Donnie Darko, not enough Everything is Illuminated. Expand
  7. EduardoS
    Oct 26, 2008
    10
    Funny and intelligent movie. One of the best I've seen in years.
  8. ColeL.
    Nov 22, 2001
    10
    A disingenuous story with a strange and bizzare idea. This was beautifully written with acting to kill. A masterpiece of a film.
  9. JacquesR.
    Jan 21, 2001
    9
    Extremely original and quirky, entirely funny; Malkovich is terrific as is Cameron Diaz.
  10. RyanM.
    Aug 31, 2001
    10
    Beautiful, brilliant and absolutely wonderful!
  11. TheHouseOfGilbertMulroneycakes
    Dec 10, 2002
    10
    Possibly overlong, but that's nitpicking. A remarkable achievement, great performances from Diaz, Cusack, Keener and John Horatio Malkovich himself of course. It has to be seen.
  12. MaurícioG.
    Apr 30, 2003
    10
    Rus B., if you're not even going to explain why you gave it a 3 when everybody else gave it a 10, I'll ask u 1 thing: Why did you even bother rating. But since logic probably won't get to you: You're the one not using pants here, mister!
  13. PatC.
    Jan 10, 2004
    8
    I elect to not analyze. I never want to see this film ever ever again. It would spoil the memory of watching it the first time.
  14. Mike
    Oct 18, 2006
    7
    I thought Adaptation and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind both have it beat by a wide margin. Maybe I should see it again.
  15. Jared
    Feb 19, 2006
    10
    What an incredible movie! Works both as a hilarious comedy and as a deep reflection on identity and the many ways that it shifts based on our own wants and needs. Simply brilliant.
  16. TonyY.
    Aug 26, 2006
    10
    Amazing, amazing film. Great acting, great direction, and an excellent screenplay. I don't understand people like Chris B. who give zeroes to movies that get mainly 9s and 10s. Even if you really dislike a movie, it still deserves points for effort. A genuine "0" movie would have to have absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  17. JacksonG.
    Jan 4, 2007
    8
    An amazing mind-trip.
  18. Cy
    Nov 11, 2001
    10
    It was beautiful.
  19. NedD.
    Sep 14, 2001
    10
    Sheer perfection. An amazing and original idea brought masterfully to the screen. Nothing else like it.
  20. SteveO.
    Jul 15, 2002
    10
    The most profoundly beautiful and thought provoking masterpiece ever to grace the modern screen.
  21. YoonC.
    Sep 14, 2003
    8
    Awfully clever movie and lots of fun. However, I suspect it only touches upon many potentially satirical issues without deeply investigating any of them. Still, a field day for talents as diverse as Cusack, Diaz, and of course Malkovich--what finer homage can any actor ask for?
  22. JamesM
    Nov 19, 2005
    10
    Being John Malkovich is a magnificent film, scuplted by master writer Charlie Kaufman and and then sharpened to a deadly blade by director Spike Jonze. The ideas that this film is packed with are amazing, when was the last time you recall being even more overwhelmed with ideas in the third act than you were with the first? Being John Malkovich is almost perfect, but Jonze and Being John Malkovich is a magnificent film, scuplted by master writer Charlie Kaufman and and then sharpened to a deadly blade by director Spike Jonze. The ideas that this film is packed with are amazing, when was the last time you recall being even more overwhelmed with ideas in the third act than you were with the first? Being John Malkovich is almost perfect, but Jonze and Kaufman's second film, Adaptation, remains superior. Expand
  23. DivessaJ
    Oct 21, 2005
    10
    What an exciting and original movie!!! It was hilarious throughout and the surprises don't stop until the very end. Each character changes and turns with every scene. Fantastic movie - a must see.
  24. matta.
    Jul 26, 2005
    10
    Looks like Darryl J. needs to stick to films like Bambi and How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days. Definetely not for the casual filmgoer, but for someone who wants to be challenged and actually have a rewarding experience at a film. Best movie of 1999.
  25. PatrickD.
    Sep 13, 2005
    9
    Amen Matt A. Being John Malcovich is an unusual film to the world of cinema. It seems more original than any of Burton's movies. Full of twisted love triangles, and drama, along with wierdness and puppets.
  26. GrahamM.
    Dec 12, 2005
    10
    This is such an amazing and brilliant film, I usually do not like John cusack films, but this is not like a really regular e Cusack film.
  27. Jun 10, 2011
    8
    I am a little confused about this movie. And frankly speaking before I read other comments, I can not understand this movie. But to some extent, I think it is a good movie but not perfect one.
  28. Jan 13, 2011
    9
    I'm not going to lie, I did not like this movie the first time I saw it. But after I saw Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine, I watched B.J.M. again and I realized what I missed the first time, the whole thing. The originality is beyond impressive. I also never thought Cameron Diaz could look so ugly. Yes, the movie is a huge metaphor, so people who consider movies like Norbit or TransformersI'm not going to lie, I did not like this movie the first time I saw it. But after I saw Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine, I watched B.J.M. again and I realized what I missed the first time, the whole thing. The originality is beyond impressive. I also never thought Cameron Diaz could look so ugly. Yes, the movie is a huge metaphor, so people who consider movies like Norbit or Transformers to be the best movies will not appreciate nor understand this. There is nothing like this Expand
  29. Aug 3, 2011
    10
    Best movie of all time . One of the better films of the past few years.A strikingly original and often brilliant movie that seems to run out of steam in the last 15 minutes, but then again, maybe its supposed to.
  30. Feb 19, 2011
    8
    Being John Malkovich is hillarious and rare, contains surrelism, absurdity, Kaufman-style. But I think Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind still top of it. No head-f**kery this time
  31. Feb 8, 2012
    10
    Being John Malkovich really is a film like no other. Director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman's vision for the film is so complete, so unique and off-the-wall, it makes for an utterly spellbinding viewing experience. The performances are all superb, and many a far cry from the respective cast member's usual roles.John Cusack makes a very engaging, if highly unlikeable protagonist asBeing John Malkovich really is a film like no other. Director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman's vision for the film is so complete, so unique and off-the-wall, it makes for an utterly spellbinding viewing experience. The performances are all superb, and many a far cry from the respective cast member's usual roles.John Cusack makes a very engaging, if highly unlikeable protagonist as Craig Schwatz, an ambitious but morally bereft puppeteer, who finds a mysterious portal into the head of John Malkovich. Malkovich, quite amusingly, gives one of the best performances of his career, playing a parody of himself, who is unwittingly used by a whole host of people for entertainment, entrepreneurial ventures and for a far more sinister purpose. Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener and Orson Bean are all excellent too as Craig's unfulfilled, animal-loving wife, his sexually deviant co-worker and his ancient and looney boss respectively. Being John Malkovich delivers on all fronts, from the cast playing a weird and wonderful array of characters to Spike Jonze's tight and controlled direction, Lance Acord's cinematography perfectly capturing the simple, yet effective visuals, Carter Burwell's fantastic score and especially Charlie Kaufman's slick, sharp and side-splittingly funny script. It's surreal, dark, well-written and simply hilarious. It's also superbly odd, bordering on lunacy, but in a good way. There's nothing else like it, and there likely never will be. By the end of Being John Malkovich, you've certainly been on a journey - you're not certain where you've been, or what it all means, but by God you had a good time. Expand
  32. Feb 27, 2012
    9
    Being John Malkovich is the work of a clearly twisted individual (Director Spike Jonze) but its hard to deny that Jonze is unbelievably talented as he balances multiple plot threads and complex characters while managing to infuse the film with a hilarious satirical element. The film follows a professional puppeteer (John Cusack) as he is forced to take a position as a file clerk in anBeing John Malkovich is the work of a clearly twisted individual (Director Spike Jonze) but its hard to deny that Jonze is unbelievably talented as he balances multiple plot threads and complex characters while managing to infuse the film with a hilarious satirical element. The film follows a professional puppeteer (John Cusack) as he is forced to take a position as a file clerk in an oddly shaped office building at his animal loving wifeâ Expand
  33. Feb 9, 2012
    9
    Watched this movie again last night after not seeing it for years. It really is a fantastic film. Charlie Kauffman never fails to come up with bizarre and intriguing scripts, and Spike Jonze is also on his A-game. This movie starts off on a strange note, and it continues to spiral into a twilight zone of hilarious proportions. I don't even like Cameron Diaz, but I thought she was very goodWatched this movie again last night after not seeing it for years. It really is a fantastic film. Charlie Kauffman never fails to come up with bizarre and intriguing scripts, and Spike Jonze is also on his A-game. This movie starts off on a strange note, and it continues to spiral into a twilight zone of hilarious proportions. I don't even like Cameron Diaz, but I thought she was very good in her role, and I loved the rest of the cast as well. If you are looking for a film that is unlike any other film you have ever seen, or ever will see, then this film matches that criteria. It's a lot of fun, but also has some interesting things to say about real life issues. Expand
  34. Aug 27, 2014
    9
    Malkovich Malkovich, Malkovich? Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich, Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich. Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich, Malkovich! (Genius!)
  35. Nov 22, 2012
    10
    One of the most bizarre and brilliant movies ever.
  36. Jan 5, 2013
    10
    Very strange film like a spirit labyrinth.
    Just awesome epic scenes with joke ;)
    U hate or u Love it but u must to see him !!!
    I absolutly love it !!!
  37. Apr 27, 2016
    9
    I just do not know. Being John Malkovich may truly be the most unique and thoroughly weird film I will ever be blessed to lay my eyes upon. In many ways, it is truly brilliant. In others, it merely odd and tries to find new ways to out-odd itself. Yet, I cannot help but feel that I truly loved this film. From beginning to end, it is hysterical and its unique concept is accurately explored.I just do not know. Being John Malkovich may truly be the most unique and thoroughly weird film I will ever be blessed to lay my eyes upon. In many ways, it is truly brilliant. In others, it merely odd and tries to find new ways to out-odd itself. Yet, I cannot help but feel that I truly loved this film. From beginning to end, it is hysterical and its unique concept is accurately explored. Even better, it leads to so many questions about existence, free-will, the self, and many other postmodern ideas. One thing is for sure though: Being John Malkovich is wonderfully written. With great characters and incredible execution of such a weird idea, this one shows why Charlie Kaufman should be revered as one of the best living screenwriters. His wonderfully odd imagination plays out in his films and this one is no exception. The acting is fantastic, especially John Cusack, Catherine Keener, and John Malkovich. While undeniably weird, Being John Malkovich is a delightful door into the human mind that explores what makes us tick, what makes us human, and makes you incredibly paranoid that somebody is in your head. Expand
  38. Jan 3, 2013
    10
    This is a very strange movie. It is a drama with a little bit of fantasy thrown in. It kind of keeps you on the edge of your seat in anticipation sometimes to see what this messed up situation will do to the romantic relationships between the people involved. The scene with all of the John Malkovich's at once is hilarious. Personally, I enjoyed this movie. If you're into well-writtenThis is a very strange movie. It is a drama with a little bit of fantasy thrown in. It kind of keeps you on the edge of your seat in anticipation sometimes to see what this messed up situation will do to the romantic relationships between the people involved. The scene with all of the John Malkovich's at once is hilarious. Personally, I enjoyed this movie. If you're into well-written dramas or off the wall movies you will like this movie. If you want a typical Hollywood action movie or romantic comedy this movie is not for you. Expand
  39. Aug 7, 2013
    9
    "Being John Malkovich" must surely rank as one of the most inventive, original, and yet daring films of the last ten years. A metaphysical journey about the desire to transform oneself involving identity, gender, and creativity. It's silly, unpredictable, and completely faithful to its distinctive, perverse vision. A brilliant premise written by the Charlie Kaufman, and masterfully"Being John Malkovich" must surely rank as one of the most inventive, original, and yet daring films of the last ten years. A metaphysical journey about the desire to transform oneself involving identity, gender, and creativity. It's silly, unpredictable, and completely faithful to its distinctive, perverse vision. A brilliant premise written by the Charlie Kaufman, and masterfully directed by Spike Jonze. A truly an ingenious film and considered a modern day classic.

    Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is stuck in a frustrated rut in his life. His pet obsessed wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) seems more concerned with providing a decent home to various animals as opposed to satisfying his marriage needs. Also, money is drying up, Craig's dreams of becoming a world-famous puppeteer appear to be eroding, and he is pressured into finding a job. Because of his quick hands, a skill necessary for artful puppetry, Craig applies for a job as a filing clerk. His job requires him to work on the seventh and a half floor in a strange office block. His days are spent trying to persuade the object of his attention Maxine (Catherine Keener), into having an affair with him.

    While losing a file behind a storage cabinet one day, Craig discovers a strange and murky tunnel hidden behind the cabinet. Crawling inside, Craig finds the tunnel to actually be a portal, and the destination is inside the actor John Malkovich's head! Although Craig has no say with regards to Malkovich's actions, he can clearly witness and influence what the actor is doing. Fifteen minutes later, Craig is forced out of Malkovich's head, and dumped along side the New Jersey turnpike.

    Part of the pleasure in watching "John Malkovich" is seeing these actors at full creative throttle, and knowing how much they relished the insanity of the script. But it's clearly Malkovich who has the most fun here. Spoofing oneself is usually therapeutic, but for Malkovich whose reputation as an intellectual prima donna, must have been ecstatic at an incredibly unique opportunity.

    Without spoiling what follows, "Being John Malkovich" features a fine cast of dryly-comic actors who are very much in on the joke. That can even be said of Charlie Sheen, who turns up for some wicked self-parody in a film that also features cameo appearances by Sean Penn, Brad Pitt. "Being John Malkovich" doesn't bog down in allegories, while remaining tremendously entertaining and thought provoking, and definitely worthy of repeat viewings. Fantastic performances all around by the entire cast, but especially by Cusack and Malkovich. Nominated for three Academy Awards.
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  40. Dec 19, 2013
    10
    Without a doubt, one of the best films of the 1990s. Dark, hilarious, and brilliant. Spike Jonze gives us a mindbending science fiction dark comedy with top-notch performances from the entire cast.
  41. Jul 10, 2014
    10
    Being John Malkovich is has great acting and a cool concept. A puppeteer discovers a portal into the
    mind of John Malkovich. John Malkovich is in the movie, he plays himself and he gives many
    funny lines throughout the movie. This movie is one of the most original and visually diverse movies
    you'll ever see. The twist in the movie is funny and the movie will never be duplicated, A+.
  42. Mar 27, 2015
    10
    Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman never seem to shy away from going weird but amazing.

    The story is about a skillful puppeteer finds the perfect puppet when he discovers a portal in his new office on a "half" floor. It leads him literally into the brain of John Malkovich. He and his discoverer try make a living off of others interests while his wife becomes jealous. Charlie Kaufman and
    Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman never seem to shy away from going weird but amazing.

    The story is about a skillful puppeteer finds the perfect puppet when he discovers a portal in his new office on a "half" floor. It leads him literally into the brain of John Malkovich. He and his discoverer try make a living off of others interests while his wife becomes jealous.

    Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze are the two people that can take a weird and strange story and make it amazingly well made and as a viewer you some how correct to it with no reason to it. I don't think I ever came across a bad movie from these genius of directing and writing and Being John Malkovich is another great film from them, they never disappoint me.

    The one thing that I loved about this movie is how self aware it is. It knows it's weird with some of the scenes that will kind of question yourself for watching it but not in a horrible way more like "I'm I weirdo for understanding this and also enjoying it?", something like. The film has a sense of humor to itself and knows it' ridiculous but it goes along with it and man is it funny.

    The director from Spike Jonze once again dose an amazing job directing this movie. He mix the humor, weird scenes and the fantasy element to it which perfectly came together so well and smoothly. Spike Jonze is fantastic director and in this he really dose shine with his talent of presenting story telling.

    The writing in this movie is probably hands down the best writing I've seen in a while. The way they pulled off this crazy story line and make it comedy gold is truly genius and worth bringing up because it's not a easy thing to do as it seems impossible for some writers out there and Kaufman makes it look easy.

    The acting from everyone was excellent. John Cusack, Catherine Keener and Cameron Diaz all three did brilliant in their roles. John Malkovich pretty much playing himself in this movie did a funny performance as himself has he get's taken over by pretty much everyone. I would pay good money to see John Malkovich been given the script for the first time to this movie while he knows nothing about it yet and him reading it and seeing his face has it probably went into WTF mode, but he said yes anywhere because the movie is about him and he give a outstanding performance.

    For problems I don't really have any to be honest. I couldn't really find anything that I thought wasn't right. Well overall Being John Malkovich is smart, weirdly amazing movie with a fantastic script and outstanding directing.
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  43. May 25, 2016
    9
    A joke isn't it? If you look at it, it's pretty much not just by forming the final conclusion. Being John Malkovich just pretty much rocks on every genre it belongs.
  44. Jan 8, 2016
    8
    This was a pretty clever movie with a weird storyline and ideas but what was truly unmatchable and top notch about this movie was the acting performances of all the lead actors. They all deserved academy awards in the respective categories in my opinion
  45. Mar 20, 2016
    9
    These days, critics (and non-critics, for that matter) are fond of complaining about how multiplexes are populated by cookie-cutter motion pictures that follow safe, formula-derived patterns designed to please audiences who want a different version of a story they have already seen dozens of times. And, while there's some truth to the maxim that "there's nothing new under the sun," BeingThese days, critics (and non-critics, for that matter) are fond of complaining about how multiplexes are populated by cookie-cutter motion pictures that follow safe, formula-derived patterns designed to please audiences who want a different version of a story they have already seen dozens of times. And, while there's some truth to the maxim that "there's nothing new under the sun," Being John Malkovich tries hard to be the exception. Admittedly, the themes addressed by the movie - those of identity, celebrity, and manipulation - are familiar, but the manner in which director Spike Jonze and writer Charlie Kaufman address them is fresh and inventive. I'm not arrogant enough to claim that nothing like Being John Malkovich has ever previously been committed to celluloid, but, if it has been, I haven't seen it.

    This is the first movie to be directed by Jonze, who cut his teeth doing TV commercials and music videos. Unless you're isolated from all aspects of pop culture, you've probably seen his work. (He also has one of the four primary roles in Three Kings.) As is the case with many of the so-called "MTV filmmakers," Jonze displays a strong sense of style. However, unlike most of his contemporaries, he does not rely on quick cuts and visual gimmicks. He has sound, mature cinematic instincts.

    Kaufman's script is not constrained by viewer expectations. For about 110 minutes, he pushes the envelope, taking us in new and unexpected directions. Every time I thought I recognized where Being John Malkovich was headed, the movie surprised me. The screenplay is as funny as it is clever. Some of the jokes are of the "big laugh" variety, but few are representative of the cheap shots and dumb humor that have become commonplace in '90s offerings. Being John Malkovich revels in smart comedy instead of wallowing in the opposite. And, alongside the laughter, there's plenty of material for contemplation. Cinematically speaking, this is a well-balanced, multi-course meal.

    Unlike most comedies, which go for laughs without worrying about depth, Being John Malkovich has both. The film raises questions about the nature of identity, and how some people are only completely free when their real self is hidden behind a mask or beneath a costume. With Craig as a puppet-master and Maxine playing him like a musical instrument, issues of manipulation rise to the surface. How much of what we do in our day-to-day lives involves attempting to pull the strings of others, or having our own strings pulled? Being John Malkovich also addresses the appeal of stardom with greater impact than Woody Allen's Celebrity. Certainly, some of those willing to pay to enter the portal are interested in having a temporary personality transference, but others want the experience of being a star. In fact, taken as a whole, this could all be seen as a commentary on the crafts of acting (taking on an alternative identity) and directing (manipulating others). Beyond that, there are issues of ethics and commercialism (will we exploit anything?), as well as addiction (some customers become addicted to the experience). And, for those who like to see the dark side of things, the film offers unsettling threads about the annihilation of identity and the price of immortality. Is this too much material for one movie? Not with Jonze at the helm and a capable cast in front of the cameras.

    That cast is headed by John Cusack, one of Hollywood's most underrated actors. Cusack (last seen in Pushing Tin) has astonishing versatility and is able to thoroughly inhabit the skin of any character he plays. Craig isn't the most pleasant of men - during the course of the film, he does some unconscionable things - but Cusack is so effective that we form a tenuous bond with him anyway. As Lotte, Cameron Diaz is almost unrecognizable. Like her male co-star, she disappears into the character (with the help of an atypical hair style). Catherine Keener, for years the muse of filmmaker Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion), continues to show why she has always deserved the greater exposure she is starting to get.

    Then there's John Malkovich, who plays an exaggerated, fictionalized version of himself. Although that might initially seem like a simple role, it isn't, especially considering that Malkovich must re-invent himself as a man being possessed by others. His performance is flawless, mixing a version of the world-weary actor with an imitation of John Cusack and a touch of Steve Martin from All of Me. Jonze and Kaufman chose Malkovich as the title character because they wanted someone who is both well-known and a little elusive.

    The movie is surreal precisely because Jonze plays everything straight. The characters are not aware that they're in some kind of distorted reality, gazing through the looking glass darkly. It is a triumphant debut for Spike Jonze.
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Metascore
90

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 36
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 36
  3. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Gloriously inventive, delightfully nutty comic treasure is unlike anything you've ever seen. It's lunatic.
  2. Newsweek
    Reviewed by: David Ansen
    90
    I don't know how a movie this original got made today, but thank God for wonderful aberrations.
  3. 100
    If we're allowed just a couple of truly singular discoveries in twelve months, it's a good year; when one of them is a film as exhilarating as Spike Jonze's feature debut, it's a banner year.