Being John Malkovich

Critics Consensus

Smart, funny, and highly original, Being John Malkovich supports its wild premise with skillful direction and a stellar ensemble cast.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 135

87%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 262,626

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Movie Info

In this quirky cult-favorite comedy, unemployed New York City puppeteer Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) reluctantly takes a temp job as a filing clerk for the eccentric Dr. Lester (Orson Bean). While at work, Craig discovers a portal that leads into the mind of renowned actor John Malkovich. When he lets his attractive co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener) in on the secret, they begin both an unusual business scheme and an odd relationship that involves Craig's restless wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz).

Cast & Crew

John Cusack
Craig Schwartz
Cameron Diaz
Lotte Schwartz
Orson Bean
Dr. Lester
John Malkovich
John Horatio Malkovich
Ned Bellamy
Derek Mantini
Charlie Kaufman
Executive Producer
Michael Kuhn
Executive Producer
Björk
Original Music
Carter Burwell
Original Music
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News & Interviews for Being John Malkovich

Critic Reviews for Being John Malkovich

All Critics (135) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (126) | Rotten (9)

Audience Reviews for Being John Malkovich

  • Sep 16, 2020
    It's fair to say that when Being John Malkovich was released in 1999, very few people were even aware of the creative mind of Charlie Kaufman. In fact, he'd only really been working as a writer on Tv shows with Malkovich being his first feature film screenplay. When it hit, it was regarded as the most daringly original film of the year with a concept so bizarre that it's a wonder that it was even green-lit for production in the first place. Thankfully, director Spike Jonze had the chutzpah to take it on and in doing so, introduced us to one of cinema's truly subversive talents. Kaufman is a one-of-kind writer and Being John Malkovich alone is testament to his warped and offbeat imagination. It's darkly humorous and genuinely unique in its inventiveness but moreover, it has an intellectual depth that raises it beyond a mere gimmick. Fair play to John Malkovich himself for being a good sport throughout and it also boasts some career best work from John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and, especially, the wonderful Catherine Keener. Ultimately, though, this film put both Jonze and Kaufman on the map and it's a place they both rightfully deserve.
    Mark W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 2013
    Fourteen years I am waiting to see this movie... long fourteen years! And there was always a "valid" reason to delay watching it... not anymore. Finally I saw this inventive comedy-fantasy written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. And I simply loved it. I loved the stars John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, and John Malkovich, I loved the story, I love the way everything was put together, I loved the feeling I had after watching the movie... Craig Schwartz (Cusack), a puppeteer who finds a portal that leads into Malkovich's mind, and his "adventures" kept surprising me during the movie, from the start to the end - never stopping or slowing down. When Cusack asked his agent to present him with the "craziest, most unproduceable script you can find" he didn't know what was he getting involved in... but after reading it he was so impressed with the script, that he asked his agent to follow its progress and book him an audition, with which he won the role. Charlie Kaufman's idea of Being John Malkovich originated simply as "a story about a man who falls in love with someone who is not his wife" and he kept adding further elements to the story which he found entertaining, such as floor 7 1/2 of the Mertin Flemmer building... actually at the first versions John Malkovich was nowhere to be seen! When all the studios in 1994 had an opportunity to read the final version - they all turned it down. Hoping to find a producer, Kaufman sent the script to Francis Ford Coppola, who passed it on to his then-son-in-law Spike Jonze and he read it in 1996. In 1997 he accepted to direct the movie. This outstandingly exciting movie full with surprises will keep you entertained with crazy story, excellent dialogues intelligently shortened to a bare minimum told by the variety of unique individuals who you'll remember long after watching this work of art: John Cusack stars as Craig, a street puppeteer with his dark and neurotic puppets; Cameron Diaz as Craig's wife, Lotte, running a pet store, and their home is overrun with animal boarders, most of them deeply disturbed; Catherine Keener is Craig's co-worker Maxine, and she has her way of listening with her lips slightly parted, ready to interrupt by exposing you for the fool that you are; John Malkovich is imaginary version of himself and he becomes a part of a story when Craig finds a small doorway which is some kind of temporal-spatial portal, ending up inside the brain of the actor... If you are a fan of stories with a twist which can make funny serious and serious funny, which can balance perfectly sad with satirical, weird with touching, and keep you satisfied for almost two hours - there is one for you!
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Feb 03, 2013
    Review after another viewing.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Dec 06, 2012
    A strange, existential, and ultimately disconcerting film that just gets weirder and weirder. Major points for Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman for originality, but the film's atmosphere and mood are just so dismal. The film is almost saved by Malkovich's performance in second half, but the film remains too drab to provide enough reason to love it. A lot of originality and uniqueness (as well as strangeness) to offer, but not enough entertainment value. There is no comfortable balance between the two.
    Kase V Super Reviewer

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