Cast: Will Ferrell (Harold Crick), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Ana), Emma Thompson (Karen Eiffel), Dustin Hoffman (Professor Hilbert), Queen Latifah (Penny)
Director: Marc Forster (World War Z, Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner, Finding Neverland, Monster's Ball)
Plot: Without giving anything away, the film is about a man who hears voices. Not just any voices, mind you, but the voice of a narrator. It seems that Harold Crick (Ferrell) is the main character in a series of novels written by Karen Eiffel (Thompson). Normally, this may be enough to carry a film, but in this case the author has decided to kill off her main character. This means that Crick knows (and hears in great detail) that he'll be dead soon. The film is about him doing everything he can to make sure he's not going crazy.
Why you should watch it: To me, Will Ferrell has fallen into the category of Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, and Adam Sandler. That is the category of "I can't stand any of these people anymore because they are so incredibly over exposed." However, this film harkens to an earlier review I did, of The Fisher King, in that the lead actor steps out of his annoying habits and portrays a character with great honesty. Everyone in the film portrays the characters well and with conviction. Mind you, there are the occasional sappy parts, however once you get past those you will find a film that is well written and very entertaining. Thankfully Will Ferrell isn't Will Ferrell in this film. There's no catch-phrases, no stupid accents, no clueless-main-character stereotype, and no attempts at gross out or shock humor. It's simply a good, high concept film and the director handles the material with a deft touch.
I particularly like the supporting cast in this film. Dustin Hoffman is perfect as a literary professor who is trying to help Harold Crick determine the root of his narration situation. Emma Thompson is exceedingly convincing as a frustrated blocked writer. Queen Latifah shows great restraint in her role, and I think this is one of her better films. Overall, it's a great film, released in 2006 among such names as The Departed, Pan's Labyrinth, Little Miss Sunshine, Borat, and The Queen. Watch it. Watch it tonight.
Availability: DVD, Blu Ray, Streaming, free on Youtube