The Unders | ‘Stranger Than Fiction’: The Film That Saved Will Ferrell

When you hear the name Will Ferrell, what’s the first movie that pops into your mind?

  • The Other Guys?
  • Anchorman?
  • Or maybe it’s the (for me, unfortunately) unforgettable Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby?

No matter which of the 118 credits Ferrell has to his name, I can (almost) guarantee  the one movie that wouldn’t come to mind is the gem Stranger Than Fiction…if you even knew it existed in the first place.

For a movie that grossed more than $40 million at the box office, and opened at number four, you may not think it deserves a description of “underrated.” When you consider the Rotten Tomatoes scores, it may deserve that even less. Compare it to Ferrell’s other movies. Consider that Talladega Nights brought in more than $140 million.

Now, it may be clear this film is not only underrated but fairly unknown because this is arguably one of his best performances, if not the best.

If you’ve seen the movie before, then you are aware of the magic. If you haven’t, which is probably most of you reading this right now, then you’re about to be introduced to one of the most heartfelt, real, and underrated films you’ll ever see.

The Real Harold Crick

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The character of Harold Crick is likely Ferrell’s most down-to-Earth character by a long shot. Most of the time we’re (un)lucky enough to see Ferrell in outrageous, loud, boisterous, and often weird roles.

I mean, let’s not forget Blades of Glory. What a doozie that one was.

The movie focuses on Ferrell’s character, a lowly, slightly-too-attached-to-his-wristwatch tax auditor for the IRS (eww). For the first 90 seconds, you have no clue the ride you’re about to embark upon. Then, when you least expect it, as Harold Crick is counting brush strokesit happens.

Harold becomes aware of a ‘being’ narrating his every move. The rest, as they say, is rock n’ roll history.

Little Did He Know…

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The story of Harold Crick, though bumpy and full of Maggie Gyllenhaal yelling at him to “Get bent, taxman” is ultimately one of love and triumph.

The film follows Crick as he tries to determine, with help from the goofy and loveable Dustin Hoffman, if the story he’s starring in is a comedy or a tragedy. As the audience joins Mr. Crick on his journey to finish the story, we realize it is not just about Harold Crick, it’s about us.

Ferrell’s character is so relatable that even though no one has enjoyed another person narrating their life (I’m more like JD in Scrubs and find myself narrating my own life.), I can understand completely what he’s going through. The script is full of literary puns and the story itself is refreshingly original.

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

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Stranger Than Fiction is the Will Ferrell movie I always wanted to see. It is authentic and the entire cast (beyond Will Ferrell) performs with such depth.

  • Emma Thompson’s performance is my favorite aside from Will Ferrell. Her character, Karen Eiffel, is the crass-but-emotive author of “Death and Taxes” (the story about Harold Crick). She is the central force on which the rest of the story revolves around. Even though the movie is about Harold Crick, without her, there would be no story.
  • Dustin Hoffman’s character is Harold’s confidante–his literary teacher, his guide. His performance is jovial, endearing, and most of all, genuine.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character is Harold’s complete opposite, but she grounds him, as he grounds her. In each other they find happiness. The chemistry on screen is great, they play off one another brilliantly. They really are the perfect pair since chocolate and peanut butter.

If you’re looking for a movie to sink your teeth into just like a great book, this is the one for you. It comes to life on screen and leaves you utterly satisfied by the time the end credits roll.

We must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives…And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

Karen Eiffel, Stranger Than Fiction

So it was, this movie (to me) saved Will Ferrell.


Images courtesy: Columbia / Mandate Pictures

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