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it's the classic postmodern problem

that's what a woman said coming out of the theater last friday. had gone to see "stranger than fiction," and this was her analysis of the film. yeah, ok, sure. i rolled my eyes when i heard that one. i felt that was a bit heavyhanded, i mean, it's a will ferrell movie. and it was a friday night. and...maybe i just rolled my eyes because i don't know a proper definition of postmodern.

well anyway, went to go see "stranger than fiction" on friday with the family. in general, i'm ambivalent towards comedy as a genre - when it's good, i love it; when it's bad, i loathe it. so on a regular basis, i tend to split the difference and just not care about it. i don't hold comedy to a lower standard than i do anything else in entertainment, and i often find myself disappointed or (even worse) bored. incidentally, i feel the same way about pop music, newspapers, news broadcasts, and radio shows. (i love reading news online, though, and i love good morning america.)

but i really wanted to see "stranger than fiction" because it seemed kinda clever. and overall, i rather enjoyed it. will ferrell played a man who finds deduces, with the help of a nutty professor type (played by dustin hoffman) that he is the main character in a novel. and that the novel ends with his untimely death. so he decides to find the author of the novel, played by emma thompson, and convince her not to kill him.

the laughs i got were not nonstop, but were well-earned. in my opinion, the movie's one failing is that if failed to fully flesh out the rules of the world in which the plot takes place. this could be a grave fault, leading to complete bewilderment, except that everything else was well done. will ferrell was wonderfully subtle, emma thompson's character was surprisingly yet convincingly dark. it was like a comedy, not simply for the point of making one laugh for a few moments, but layered over a very sharp observation the blurry line between comedy and tragedy. in fact, the film points this out explicitly, in a conversation between ferrell's and hoffman's characters. and when ferrell's character goes about trying to determine whether or not the story being narrated about him was, in fact, a comedy or a tragedy, well, i found the evidence for either case to be equally compelling. and the fact that it was art about the process of another art form...i was intrigued. it's a bit tongue in cheek, almost self-referential, but not quite. (if any of this touches on postmodernism, please, someone let me know, and i will revise immediately.)

just for kicks, i decided to check out the film's reviews after i saw it. according to the reviews, i shouldn't have wasted my money on such a failure of a film, for surely it is a flop, its ambitions notwithstanding. hmm. one reviewer even went so far as to suggest that the filmmakers should have "liberated" the romantic comedy that lurked in the subplot, as that would have been more compelling. hmmm, again. i was glad the film didn't liberate its inner rom com, that would have been typical. and besides, if the inner rom com had been liberated the critics would have panned it for being another rom com. i really enjoyed it. and bravo to the filmmakers for trying something a lil different, slightly adventurous.