Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) lives in New York with his wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz). Craig is an out of work puppeteer. In order to make some money he takes a job at the Lester Corporation working for Dr. Lester (Orson Bean) as a file clerk. The Lester Corporation had its offices on the 7th and ½ floor of the Mertin Flemmer building. Since it’s only half a floor, the ceilings are only five feet tall. At work Craig meets Maxine Lund (Catherine Keener). Craig is attracted to Maxine but when she finds out that he is a puppeteer she’s not interested.
One day, while at work, Craig drops a file behind one of the filing cabinets. When he moves the cabinet to get behind it, he finds a small door. When he goes through the door his suddenly finds himself looking through the eyes of John Malkovich (John Malkovich). After about 15 minutes he gets spit out and finds himself in a grassy area alongside the New Jersey Turnpike. Craig realizes that the door is a portal through which he can enter the mind of John Malkovich. He tells Maxine about the door. At first, she doesn’t believe him. He then tells Lotte who wants to try it herself. The experience enthralls her, and she decides she is transsexual and wants to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
Maxine decides to believe Craig and comes up with the idea to charge people $200 to go through the portal and experience being John Malkovich. As they begin selling tickets Maxine finds out that Lotte wants to go through the portal again. Maxine arranges to meet the actual John Malkovich during the time that Lotte goes through the portal. The experience of seeing two people through John’s eyes excites her. Lotte and Maxine begin having an affair through John Malkovich.
When Craig finds out about the relationship, he takes Lotte’s place during one of their rendezvous and has sex with Maxine. Malkovich is freaked out by what is happening to himself. He follows Maxine to the Mertin Flemmer building and floor 7 ½. He finds Maxine and Craig and confronts them. He then finds out about the portal. Things get a little weird when Malkovich goes through his own portal and becomes John Malkovich.
“Being John Malkovich” was released in 1999 and was directed by Spike Jonze. It is an American comedy fantasy. The film is filled with surrealism and is downright weird.
Believe it or not, there is a moral to the story. A sort of grass is always greener message in that even if you are in the mind of someone else, you can’t run away from your problems. What and who you are, goes with you, baggage and all.
I was impressed on how they made Cameron Diaz look like a frump. I had to check the credits to make sure it was her. The rest of the film was more surprises. The setting, the plot and the twists and turns added to the strange imagery that changed from scene to scene. I had no idea that the New Jersey Turnpike was an exit ramp for a mind portal.
I’m not sure how I felt about the film in total. Some parts were strange and witty, but the characters were basically unlikeable. I couldn’t blame Malkovich for running to Charlie Sheen as the ‘voice of reason’ in his life. I’m willing to bet the Malkovich’s real life was far from standard to begin with. If there really was a portal to his brain, it would explain a lot. I did find Malkovich’s performance outstanding and the only real great part of the movie.