Harold Crick (Ferrell) is an IRS auditor that begins hearing narration of his life as its happening. It turns out that author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is writing a novel in which Crick is the protagonist. The bigger problem, it turns out, is that Eiffel always kills off her main characters, and Crick quickly realizes he’s not about to be an exception.
With a very slight nod toward Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, the film’s less-serious look at the relationship between an author and character was darker than I expected. Not that the film doesn’t pull off some decent laughs, but in the end this was still a man that had to live in fear that he was going to die rather soon.
I would have liked just a touch more on how Crick came to be. That might have been impossible to do, and certainly the film wasn’t striving for realism, but even the simplest of explanation would have helped. Obviously, the woman wasn’t writing this one novel her entire life — or his — so I just wanted some “bridge” to why he was suddenly aware of her. I’ll freely admit this may be nothing more than my anal side kicking in.
I really liked Thompson’s portrayal of Eiffel. Considered a modern literary giant, she is battling years of writer’s block, and is suddenly faced with a physical manifestation of the fact that she kills off all of her protagonists. Thompson pulls off a frumpy, depressed author without losing sight of the character having exceptional talent. A scene in which she explores the possibility of killing Crick in a traffic accident was particularly interesting just to see the depth of her devotion to her craft.
Dustin Hoffman as literary professor Jules hilbert and Queen Latifah as Penny Escher were decent, but I expected more from the characters considering the names in the roles. Along with Eiffel, the characters also seemed a bit too ready to accept to accept Crick’s presence. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Ana Pascal was solid, and her character helped add depth to Crick.
Overall, this certainly wasn’t a must-see, but if you watch it for fun while looking for something better you won’t be too disappointed.