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Simpson Purist 01-04-03 05:53 PM

Adaptation ending (MAJOR SPOILERS)
 
Can somebody explain what the 3rd act of Adaptation was trying to accomplish? I understand it was supposed to be a take-on Donald's "contributions" to the script to this movie but I don't quite get how it fits into the plot. I thought the 3rd act was rather disjointed and random, otherwise it was a good movie.

tor_greg 01-04-03 07:05 PM

Re: Adaptation ending (MAJOR SPOILERS)
 

Originally posted by Simpson Purist
I thought the 3rd act was rather disjointed and random, otherwise it was a good movie.
Much like Being John Malkovich.

Simpson Purist 01-04-03 09:50 PM

Yeah but the 3rd act in Adaptation just felt more disjointed than in Being John Malkovich. BJM just added more twists to an already twisty story.

Ginwen 01-04-03 11:54 PM

I think that was kind of the point. Donald didn't sweat it, he just tacked on an ending that had very little to go with what went before it. I thought it was funny, but I'm not sure I liked the movie quite as well as a result of the ending (I liked it, but not quite as much as I expected to). I'm still pulling for it to win one of the Best Screenplay awards (adapted I guess) to see how they handle the whole Charlie and Donald Kaufman thing.

FinkPish 01-06-03 04:58 PM

Yeah, I just figured that Donald and Charlie had just taken what they had learned at the screenwriting seminar and applied it to the screenplay, which is why it ended in the most cliched way possible, everything that Charlie wanted to avoid in the first place.

I was sort of half expecting there to be a scene at the very end where we cut to Charlie and Donald both sitting in the hotel room, after slaving away for hours trying to finish the screenplay, the one that we had just seen end. But I am glad it didn't happen that way, it would have seemed to easy of an ending.

There were people at the theater I saw it at who completely fell for the cliched, "Hollywood out of control" ending. "It really taught me a lot about life" was my favorite quote from the seats behind me after the movie had ending.

majorjoe23 01-07-03 12:06 PM

Remember what the screenwriter said when Charlie said he was having problems: "Wow them with an ending, and you have a hit." Donald's ending was every cliche ending tacked onto itself, think the end of "What Lies Beneath." He added a second car crash, because to him it was ironic that a car crash had affected the lives of both the hero and the (what he had turned into) villain. Donald turned Charlie's movie into everything he didn't want it to be, full of car crashes, flowers turned into to poppies, stuff like that.

Simpson Purist 01-07-03 03:25 PM

Interesting, I'll have to give this movie another chance when it hits DVD.

slop101 01-07-03 04:58 PM

Okay, I would have loved the movie, if not for it's final act, which I thought was horrible. Sure, it was meant to be that way and was referenced earlier in the film and it was a joke on the hollywood system and the whole Charlie/Donald dychotomy - but so what? If I made a movie that referenced itself and said it sucked - does that excuse the fact that it sucks? No.

And neither should the fact that scriptwriting 101 is made fun of and then used in the movie excuse the ending.

Robert Altman's The Player did a similar thing, but much better and more clever.

I've also read the original screenplay which had a much more over the top ending that would make Michael Bay jealous which I felt would've been better suited for the movie.

Otherwise, I really liked the movie.

Smidget 01-07-03 06:58 PM

slop101: what was the original ending in a synopsis sort of way ? ;)

FinkPish 01-07-03 07:20 PM

Slop101, I read a synopsis of the screenplay a while ago, and I think the end as written was great as well. But, I also liked the more subtle approach of the movie ending. I think the over-the-top ending would have been nice, but it would have seemed too obvious as a tacked-on, Donald-type ending. I like the fact that there wasn't a definite change from the Charlie version of the script to the Donald version, it all sort of flowed together, so if you weren't paying attention, you could hardly tell the movie had pulled a fast one. My family and I were the only people laughing at the absurdity of the last half hour of the movie, everyone else in the theater totally bought it. We got a lot of strange looks after the movie was over.

My other guess as to why they didn't do the giant, Bruckheimer ending was that their budget didn't allow it.

slop101 01-08-03 10:31 AM

One change was that there was a legend of a swamp monster in the original script and it was that monster that
Spoiler:
killed the Chris Cooper charcter, not the aligator
, which I felt would have been a more "fun" ending.

But yeah, you're right, I guess it would have been more obvious. There were actually people in the audience that bought the whole "character learns and changes" thing, without understanding or remembering what Charlie said about it earlier in the film. It's almost like the ending, which was a joke, slipped by most of the audience and they just didn't get it.

That's why I wish it was more obvious, because I'm not into the whole - "I'm cool because I get it" thing - I wanted everyone to get it and have their views on "art vs. entertainment" challanged. But all that happened was that the law of the lowest common denominator got re-inforced.

DVD NDN 01-08-03 01:53 PM

I've been waiting for this thread, I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago, but the ending has been bugging me ever since.
I love the first two acts but felt the end wasn't as clever. The swamp monster would have been great.

But who has seen the movie more than once?
Leonard Maltin said he saw the movie twice and liked it more the second time, and he like it a lot the first time.
Perhaps the ending is better with multiple viewings.

Corvin 01-08-03 09:28 PM


Originally posted by majorjoe23
Remember what the screenwriter said when Charlie said he was having problems: "Wow them with an ending, and you have a hit." Donald's ending was every cliche ending tacked onto itself, think the end of "What Lies Beneath." He added a second car crash, because to him it was ironic that a car crash had affected the lives of both the hero and the (what he had turned into) villain. Donald turned Charlie's movie into everything he didn't want it to be, full of car crashes, flowers turned into to poppies, stuff like that.
The screenwriter says to avoid several other tactics that are also used in the movie. Amoung them:

Deus Ex Machina (alligator popping out of no where to save the twins)

Voice over (well...the entire movie contains voice overs)

It's true. Was I the only one to not really like this movie?

Till again.

orangerory 01-08-03 11:22 PM

I, too, disliked the ending - I heard Ebert the other day see if you didn't like the ending, you just didn't get it. Well, I think I did get it and I still didn't like the ending.

I kept thinking that they were going to make Charlie and Donald the same guy. That would've been clever :) but more obvious.

Cardiff Giant11 01-11-03 11:26 PM

Saw it tonight and I really enjoyed it. Great subtle humor in addition to a great story. As far as the ending, it was tacked on, but that was the whole point. As pointed out earlier, the ending violated some of the rules of "good" filmmaking(the car chase, drugs, etc). I really enjoyed it alot more than I thought I would. I really want to watch Casablanca again to so I can pickup on some of the nuances referenced in Adaptation. Overall though I really enjoyed it.

Tom O' Bedlam 01-12-03 12:45 AM

O.K. you nonliterature types consult the following works: Deconstruction in Context: Literature and Philosophy
by Mark C. Taylor, deconstruction: a reader or the combined writings of Jacques Derrida. Storytelling has been around alot longer than movies.

ScandalUMD 01-12-03 12:50 AM

You can't expect the third act to build on the themes laid out in the first, because it isn't intended to.

The whole movie changes in tone and style at the beginning of the third act, after Charlie goes to McKee's seminar and asks Donald to come to New York. That is the shifting point.

After that, it returns to Orlean and Larouche in the swamp. To "get" the movie, it's key to understand that Orlean is a real journalist, that Larouche is a real person, and that "The Orchid Thief" is an actual book.

Charlie had intended to make a point of Larouche taking Orlean into the swamp to find the ghost orchid, and being unable to find one. This is the way the events actually occurred.

But, when Donald picks the script back up, he has them find the orchid on the way back to the car. Notice, that when we see the orchid this time, it's different from the way we've seen it before. Previously, the orchid has been glorified, even sexualized.

Further, Charlie is obsessed with bringing out the wonder of the orchid, and is wholly dedicated to making a film about the flowers.

But when Orlean and Larouche find the ghost orchid, it's seen as wholly unremarkable, and Orlean says, dismissively, that it's just a flower, and from here, all the previous themes are dropped.

My opinion is that the entire function of the third act is an evisceration of what McKee tells Charlie. By putting these Hollywood conventions in a context where they're entirely inappropriate, he undermine's McKee's claim that the drama of film is a mirror of the drama of everyday life.

slop101 01-12-03 01:42 AM

^ Well, then I'll ask again - So what?

He mocks these script-writing conventions by utilizing them in the final act and destroys all he's set up. Does that make it okay? I don't think it does.

It's that same as saying: "Well I know the movie I made is sh*tty, but I meant for it to be, therefore it's okay." - Which is complete B.S.

mdc3000 01-12-03 09:24 AM


Originally posted by slop101
^ Well, then I'll ask again - So what?

He mocks these script-writing conventions by utilizing them in the final act and destroys all he's set up. Does that make it okay? I don't think it does.

It's that same as saying: "Well I know the movie I made is sh*tty, but I meant for it to be, therefore it's okay." - Which is complete B.S.

I'd have to agree with you. I loved the first 2/3 of the movie and hated the last act. I thought it was quite obvious what was going on, but to me, it felt very STUDENT FILM. This half clever idea that just sabotages everything that came before it, for the sake of saying "look how clever I am!"

I thought the ending was an easy way out and not half as clever as the filmmakers think... like I said, very student film-ish....

MATT

ScandalUMD 01-12-03 10:03 PM


Originally posted by mdc3000
I'd have to agree with you. I loved the first 2/3 of the movie and hated the last act. I thought it was quite obvious what was going on, but to me, it felt very STUDENT FILM. This half clever idea that just sabotages everything that came before it, for the sake of saying "look how clever I am!"

I thought the ending was an easy way out and not half as clever as the filmmakers think... like I said, very student film-ish....

MATT

It's not obvious at all. Considering that Susan Orlean is a well-respected literary journalist, I'd say that what Kaufman does in the third act is very bold. To make such a shift with fictional characters would, perhaps have been less interesting, but to do that with real people, especially with someone like Orlean, is a brilliant creative flourish.

MrN 01-12-03 10:25 PM


Originally posted by ScandalUMD
It's not obvious at all. Considering that Susan Orlean is a well-respected literary journalist, I'd say that what Kaufman does in the third act is very bold. To make such a shift with fictional characters would, perhaps have been less interesting, but to do that with real people, especially with someone like Orlean, is a brilliant creative flourish.

I guess its obvious if you know beforehand that there is no Donald Kaufman.

majorjoe23 01-13-03 12:21 PM

I think Ebert is wrong that if people don't like it, they don't get it(though I'm sure many won't get this movie) This film reminds me of the work of another Kaufman, Andy. It's not that people didn't get his jokes(It's a guy lip-syncing to Mighty Mouse, there isn't much to get) it's that people don't get his humor. There's a difference, and it makes all the difference in the world. I compare Adaptation to Kaufman's work because they have a similar "Not letting you know when the joke starts and stops" kind of feel.

Groucho 01-13-03 12:30 PM

I'm not sure why people are using "student film" as an insult. Most student films I've seen are more creative and interesting than 99% of what Hollywood has to offer.

mdc3000 01-14-03 06:42 PM


Originally posted by Groucho
I'm not sure why people are using "student film" as an insult. Most student films I've seen are more creative and interesting than 99% of what Hollywood has to offer.
I am currently a film student, so I'm not trying to use it as an insult... it's just a lot of student films that I see (and have made for that matter) have a great controlling idea and then sometimes lose it as the film progresses, mostly because they become overindulgent or too pretentious... I'm not saying all of that about adaptation, but it made some mistakes that I have seen in many student films...

It is true that some student films are extremely creative and fresh, but sometimes, they have a great idea and think that just a great idea makes a great movie...sometimes you need more to sustain the flick, that "look at me" wonder wears thin fast and then things fall apart...sometimes they just totally blow it because they don't know better... but there are always exceptions to the rule.

MATT

also when I said the film felt very Student Film, I meant I'd seen a few student flicks that are very similar in what they are trying to say and do...some of which were more satisfying overall than adaptation.

Inverse 01-14-03 09:18 PM

I liked the *idea* of the last act, but it went on too long. Also, there weren't enough clues for the non-movie buff audience to explain why the last act was so different. Some more obviously Hollywood-style photography, music, and editing would have helped, a la the end of The Player. That's Jonez's fault, though, not Kaufman's.

This is a definitely a see-it-twice movie. (And the second time round, pay close attention to the conversation where Donald describes his multiple-personality gimmick to Charlie--it's key to understanding a key point lots of people miss. "No, you don't understand me. They're the same person. How would you shoot them?" "With trick photography.")


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