Some Reviews of Adaptation.

http://www.mrqe.com/movie_reviews/adaptation-m100024194

Roger Ebert: “Adaptation is a movie that leaves you breathless with curiosity, as it teases itself with the directions it might take. To watch the film is to be actively involved in the challenge of its creation.”

Todd McCarthy: “One of the many self-reflexive jokes in Adaptation. is that Kaufman, whose stack of anxieties and neuroses makes Woody Allen look like a carefree bon vivant, has to make everything he writes about himself. How he manages this feat in this case, which started out as an assignment to do a straight adaptation of a non-fiction book about an obsessive orchid breeder in Florida, represents the core of the film, one which is packed with industry references but not in a way unfriendly to the general viewer.”

A.O. Scott: “After all, one of the movie’s reigning conceits is that the boundary between reality and representations of it — between life and art, if you want — is highly porous, maybe even altogether imaginary. Another is that obsessive manias — for instance, the passion for certain forms of plant life that afflicts some of the characters — reproduce themselves like madly pollinating wildflowers.”

Ed Gonzalez: “There’s an overwhelming sense in both the novel and the film that Orlean would have knocked her front teeth out if it meant she could be happy. In researching orchids, Orlean discovered that the plants—what with their vigilant need to guard themselves against self-containment—were not unlike humans themselves. When Charlie learned to research Orlean and not her book, he was able to find a portal into her world of flowers and one straight into his own brain.”

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About Kevin L. Ferguson

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing at Queens
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5 Responses to Some Reviews of Adaptation.

  1. Brian Chun says:

    I find it astonishing that only one critic truly addresses Kaufman’s role as a character in the movie (Gonzalez only brings Charlie up to squeeze in a cheap reference to Being John Malkovich).
    I just feel that Kaufman is deserving of more criticism and analysis than these reviews give. Yeah, I get that it’s just a quick ‘n dirty movie review that has to be squeezed into some corner of a magazine, but still: Kaufman is in about 75% of the scenes in the movie.
    On the other hand, it’s pretty hard to sell a movie to people when the main character is a balding neurotic. I guess these people were just doing their jobs.

    • It very well may be a tough task to market a movie about a character as socially inept and physically unappealing as Kaufman to a wide audience, but to cite a famous example (referenced by McCarthy), Woody Allen did just that in Annie Hall (and many others, but that one is my favorite). It is an interesting idea to ponder, though, and I agree with you that Kaufman deserved more critical attention. We enjoy Adaptation in large part because Kaufman is such a playfully troubled character: I felt myself become uncomfortable with him.

    • You’re making me wonder about the marketing for the film now–I vaguely remember seeing a trailer, but I wonder what the press kit looked like. The video cover, with the cracked flowerpot, seems to suggest something.

  2. Though Kaufman is socially inept, I am technologically inept: I totally messed up the html on my comment, so please ignore the italics.

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