Adaptation

Critics Consensus

Dizzyingly original, the loopy, multi-layered Adaptation is both funny and thought-provoking.

91%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 210

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 188,684

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Movie Info

Nicolas Cage is Charlie Kaufman, a confused L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, sexual frustration, self-loathing, and by the screenwriting ambitions of his freeloading twin brother Donald (Nicolas Cage). While struggling to adapt "The Orchid Thief," by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), Kaufman's life spins from pathetic to bizarre. The lives of Kaufman, Orlean's book, become strangely intertwined as each one's search for passion collides with the others'.

Cast & Crew

Nicolas Cage
Charlie Kaufman, Donald Kaufman
Meryl Streep
Susan Orlean
Chris Cooper
John Laroche
Cara Seymour
Amelia Kavan
Brian Cox
Robert McKee
Judy Greer
Alice the Waitress
Jay Tavare
Matthew Osceola
Charlie Kaufman
Screenwriter
Susan Orlean
Writer (Book)
Peter Saraf
Executive Producer
Charlie Kaufman
Executive Producer
Lance Acord
Director of Photography
K.K. Barrett
Production Designer
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News & Interviews for Adaptation

Critic Reviews for Adaptation

All Critics (210) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (191) | Rotten (19)

  • In the wrong hands, the lunacy could have gotten out of control, but Jonze has near-perfect pitch. He never forces the farce, rooting even Kaufman's wildest digressions in real emotions.

    July 6, 2010 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • For two-thirds of its running time the film is close to genius. But there's still no third act.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It's the sort of movie that keeps reinventing itself and nudging us in the ribs as it does. You'll want to see it soon, because everyone you know will be talking about it.

    April 27, 2003 | Rating: A-
  • Cage gives one of the best performances of his recent career as the Kaufmans. He's a natural in this role, especially when that great horse face breaks into an ingratiating grin...

    March 25, 2003 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Both Kaufmans are played by Nicolas Cage, whose goofy, moon-faced sincerity has never been put to funnier use.

    March 7, 2003 | Full Review…
  • Charlie Kaufman is a genius.

    February 4, 2003 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Nev Pierce

    BBC.com
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Adaptation

  • Sep 20, 2020
    If Being John Malkovich introduced us to the creative ideas of Charlie Kaufman and took us (fictionally) into the mind of John Malkovich the actor then Adaptation takes us into the mind of Charlie Kaufman himself. Of course, this is still only fiction and much poetic and artistic license is taken but Kaufman turns the tables onto himself this time and the results are just as creative and enjoyable. He even creates a fictional brother in Donald Kaufman (which the Academy even nominated as a joint writer when the Best Screenplay Oscar was announced). Kaufman is simply a master at creating a story where art imitates life imitating art. It's so cleverly done and effortlessly blurs the lines between fact and fiction such is it's astute and clever construction. Director Spike Jonze, once again, seems to be on the same wave length of Kaufman's ingenuity and the performances are fantastic. Chris Cooper won the Best Supporting Actor award but, in a dual role as Charlie and Donald, this is arguably the best work that Nicolas Cage has ever delivered. Another mind-bending treat from Kaufman.
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 26, 2020
    I'm reacting the way the world does to movies about making movies about making movies. I mean come on, Charlie Kaufman, some of us have work in the morning, damn. Final rating:★★½ - Not quite for me, but I definitely get the appeal.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 15, 2012
    A triumphantly meta film that takes every opportunity to take a filmic cliche and completely turn it on its head. This is writer Kaufman's movie as much as it is Jonze's, and the duo manage to provoke laughs, pathos, and thought in this surreal dive into the writing psyche, complete with a wonderful dual performance from Nicolas Cage.
    Kase V Super Reviewer
  • Sep 30, 2012
    Adaptation is undoubtedly one of the most original films I've ever seen. The films concept is even more genius than Spike Jonze's previous Being John Malkovich. The film follows the real-life writer Charlie Kaufman trying to adapt a book called The Orchid Thief into a screenplay. The screenplay that he ends up writing is the screenplay of this movie. It sounds very confusing, but it really is a genius concept and has to be seen to be believed. All of the performances are great, and the final act is the most exciting (even if it is the most fictitious). I also loved how the film portrays screenwriters as one of the most vital people to the creation of a film yet they are the most overlooked. The beauty of Adaptation is that you have no idea where it's going to go next because the events are being written as the film progresses. The only complaint I have is that the final act is far superior to the rest of the movie, which isn't nearly as interesting. Overall, I cannot stress enough how original Adaptation is.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer

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