Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Being John Malkovich


Starring: John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener, Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place and John Malkovich
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 14 March 2016

Puppeteer Craig Schwartz and his pet store wife Lottie continue to go through the motions of their marriage, but Craig’s lack of success is putting a terminal strain on their relationship. Biting the bullet Craig gets a normal job, well at least that was the plan. He finds himself working, as a clerk on the 7 ½ floor, with a ceiling so low everyone has a permanent stoop. Exploring his office Craig discovers a passageway behind one of the cabinets; a passageway that leads to the mind of John Malkovich...

Being John Malkovich (1999. 1 hr, 48 min, 11 sec) is a surreal comedy film directed by Spike Jonze, a prodigious director of music videos, from a script by Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)). The film was nominated for three Oscars.

The film is as brilliant as it is weird. It stars John Cusack and an almost unrecognisable Cameron Diaz, more importantly it also stars John Malkovich, which brings both a greater level of authenticity as well as adding to the general weirdness which permeates the film. Cusack's character, Craig, has a boss obsessed with his own sexual virility and a co-worker, Maxine (Catherine Keener) who he unsuccessfully lusts after.

After he finds the passage which leads into John Malkovich’s mind, Maxine persuades him to turn it into a profitable business charging people to spend fifteen minutes being John Malkovich before they are unceremoniously spat out at the New Jersey Turnpike. The experience is different for each of the characters, for some being able to see through others eyes is revolutionary making them question their own life choices. For Craig it is an extension of his desire to be inside the skin of his puppets. All this intrusion does not go unnoticed by Malkovich who tracks Craig down.

The main cast are perfect in their roles and the film is overflowing with twists, tricks and jokes, all handled with a subtle touch.

The single DVD disc arrives with a couple of extras. American Arts & Culture presents John Horatio Malkovich, Dance of Despair and Disillusionment (4 min, 17 sec) is an amusingly fake interview and autobiography of Malkovich as a puppeteer which includes Sean Penn. 7 ½ Floor Orientation (2 min, 11 sec) another pastiche piece, this time orientating new employees to their new working environment. The disc also contains the Theatrical Trailer (1 min, 54 sec) as well as four TV Spots.

You also get an interview with the director Spike Jonze (2 min, 47 sec) watch it, it’s weird with Spike seemingly having to suffer the indignity of being interviewed while he drives his car trying not to throw up. There is Spike's Photo Album and seven text bios. Try not to choose the option ‘don’t enter here, there is nothing here’ because there really isn’t anything. Nice to see them extend the humour to the menu.

For spoke language you have the choice of English French and German, the subs are the same, but add Dutch as well.

It’s rare to find a film which is so inventive and yet so simultaneously funny and entertaining. From the ever increasing madness of people inhabiting Malkovich to the long running gag of Craig's boss, Dr. Lester’s (Orson Bean) speech impediment which he does not have. The film will make you laugh and think at the same time.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.