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Dec 4, 2007

5 Great Things About...Being John Malkovich

New feature time!

I sometimes feel like I start up a new feature every other week and never get back to them, but that's not really true - some of them just aren't called for all that often or deserving of a frequent post. This one is, and the fact that its posts will most likely be somewhat brief serve to only aid me in writing them all that more often. But it has more to do with the content - really.

The concept is pretty straightforward. Aside from going to the theater way too much, I happen to watch way too many movies on TV (or DVD). Since they're not new releases, it's pretty rare for me to write a review for them (though I have on a couple occasions), but there are often some things I'd like to say about them. And since I have a tendency to always find the negatives in things (I'm a champion pessimist...though I did win an "Optimist's Oratorical Award" as a junior high-schooler. Figure that one out.), I've decided to pick five things from a movie that I've recently viewed that catch my eye or crack me up or inspire me or whatever. They could be anything from a whole performance, a single line (or even word, see below), a sight gag, plotline, anything. So...

5 Great Things About...Being John Malkovich

* Charlie Sheen cameoing (is that a word) as Malkovich's best friend. They may in fact be friends in real life, but it seems highly unlikely (considering age and background as factors), and instead plays out as highly random. As a bonus to this, I love the scene at the end when a bald Sheen shows up at Malkovich's door, greeting John (now inhabited by Dr. Lester and friends) with the nickname "Malkatraz!" followed by himself being called "MaSheen!" I have no idea where it came from, but it seems genuine and cracks me up every time.

* The Merten-Flemmer orientation video. The explanation of why there is a floor "betwixt" the 7th and 8th floors is pure comedy gold, brought on mostly by the re-created meeting of Capt. Merten and his diminutive future wife ("at least there will be one place on God's green Earth where ye and yer cursed kind can live in peace..."). And the low overhead is nice.

* The way Craig (as Malkovich) says "hip." The actual line is "Jesus! Why couldn't I have found the portal to a younger body? What if I... What if I fall tonight and break my hip?," yet when "hip" comes out, it sounds more like "heep." This is in line with some of the other "exorcisms" Malkovich has with Craig controlling him ("Shut up, you overrated piece of sh*t"), but is so subtle and could so easily be missed that I appreciate it all the more.

* The "Malkovich entering Malkovich" scene, which has to be considered the best in the movie. Seeing female and child versions of Malkatraz is enough to make anyone go nuts, especially the man himself. (Note: the normally great Curb Your Enthusiasm copped this trick for their season 5 DVD. Boo!)

* Floris. So many great lines, so little time. To wit:

Craig Schwartz: My name is Craig Schwartz and I have an interview with Dr. Lester.

Floris: Please have a seat, Mr. Juarez.

Craig Schwartz: My name is Schwartz.

Floris: "My name is Wartz"?

Floris: Welcome to Lestercorp. How may we meet your filing needs?

Craig Schwartz: No, no. Um... my name's Craig Schwartz. I have an interview with Dr. Lester.

Floris: Oh. Please have a seat, Mr. Juarez.

Craig Schwartz: Schwartz.

Floris: Pardon?

Craig Schwartz: Schwartz.

Floris: I- I'm sorry. I have no idea what you're saying to me right now.

Floris: My name is Schwartz.

Floris: My name is Warts?

[Craig takes a seat]

Floris: [intercom beeps]

Floris: Mr. Juarez?

[Craig doesn't respond at first]

Craig Schwartz: Oh. Yes?

Floris: Chest?

Craig Schwartz: I said, "Yes?"

Floris: You suggest what? I'm sorry I have no time for piddling suggestions from mumbling job applicants. Besides, Dr. Lester will see you now.

I could probably list another 15 great things about Being John Malkovich ("Little Johnny Malko-pee!", "Poof - you're a puppeteer"), but I'll refrain. However, if you've got some, be sure to chime in.

18 people have chosen wisely: on "5 Great Things About...Being John Malkovich"

Tony Tanti said...

Love this movie, great post.

turtles said...

Hello there!!I rally like and love this very interesting film!Second the actor is from my country and I am proud of him!Thanks for this very nice post!!Have a nice day and Regards Silvana from Croatia

Fletch said...

Thanks, Tony!

Silvana, I think you are my first Croatian commentor. I did not know that Malkovich was Croatian - interesting. Glad you liked the post (and you speak/write English very well!).

aaidjs said...

Thank you and I hope i will see you on my blog!!Have a nice weekend Silvana

BostonSucksMyBlog said...

im sure larry david acknowledges the malkovich thing...most likely

Tom said...

I was in the audience for Charlie Sheen's Actors Studio appearance, and I actually asked him about his role in this movie.

He said it was originally written for Kevin Bacon, but he wasn't available to do it. When I asked if he did the role because they could get him, Sheen said he wasn't available either because he was in rehab at the time...and they said if he did "Being John Malkovich" then they'd let him out for 10 days.

That makes it even more hilarious to me.

AdamB said...

What does the guy say at the start? The angry man who punches the puppeteer for doing a lewd puppet act in front of his daughter?

I remember its profane, but the delivery of it was fantastic.

Beaubien said...

The angry father says: "You motherfucker!" before he knocks the puppeteer out.

*"It's just a matter of practice before Malkovich is nothing more than a mere puppet hanging over my work table."

"Maxine showing her nurturing side to her child while seated in the living room.

*How radical and chilling it is that Craig, our dorky protagonist turns out to be a really complex villain in the film. "I don't wanna be a monster, Lotte. I don't want to."

*Elijah's traumatic memory.

*Craig after going through the rabbit hole:"I don't know if I can go on living my life as I have before". Keener's Maxine performs the best punchline to this.

*Craig's comeuppance at the end.

BizzR said...

A great movie, always reminded me of the Herman Hesse novels, which I love (John Malkovich also played in a theatre called "Steppenwolf" -which is the title of one of Hesse`s novels- I am not sure if there is a connection). Anyway, thanks for the reminder. Will watch it again asap. Regards,
Kristijan, Serbia

Anonymous said...

"Nobody's looking for a puppeteer in today's wintery economic climate."

...or something to that effect.

Anonymous said...

This movie is such a mindwarp the first time through, but on second viewings, it seemed a lot more cruel, especially wrt Cameron Diaz's character.

Anonymous said...

I served Malkovich and his family at a restaurant in Santa Monica. My eyes were fixed on him as I took his order. All the while, I feared that when my eyes returned to the dining room the guests would be Malkovich's.

Anonymous said...

When Craig is running home from JM inc. to kidnap Lotte and there is that extreme close up of his face as he runs. Best running scene from any movie ever. I laugh just thinking about it.

David said...

john malkovich is from illionis, he's not Croatian

Obiwayne said...

A great movie but one scene really elevates the wonderfulness for me.
After Malkovich falls onto the Jersey Turnpike and a random car drives by, yells "Think fast Malkovich!" and then throws a can at his head is brilliant!
Just the idea that someone recognizes and throws a can in a matter of seconds just seems delightfully absurd.

Fletch said...

tom - that's too funny. I think, in the end, that I'm happier it was Sheen than Bacon, as a Bacon/Malkovich friendship seems more plausible and thus less funny. Great story.

beaubien - the Elijah "memory" is sad, interesting and funny at the same time. Also, it reminds me of Human Nature, an earlier Kauffman script (the movie is so-so, but worth seeing if you like his stuff. It's also directed by Michel Gondry, so it's got that going for it, too).

anon @ 11:02 - another great story. I can only hope you commended him on his performance in the "jewel heist" movie. ;)

david - I think Silvana was referring to his lineage. He might not have been born in Croatio, but his ancestors were.

obiwayne - love the can thing, too. Who would throw a can at Malkatraz??

Thanks to all for reading, and thanks to whoever put me on IMDb's hit list today!

Anonymous said...

Being John Malkovich is one of my favorite movies and I'm glad I have it in my DVD collection. It was this article about the film that I stumbled across and discovered your blog. Good article, by the way.

Igor, Serbia said...

Oh yes he is from illinois, and his origins are from todays Croatia, but ..... his grandfather was Serbian from Croatia. Sorry Croats...if you want to be proud of Tesla and John Malkovich (Maljković)..you got to respect your Serbs.