Now on DVD
DVD Review: 'Stranger Than Fiction'
"Stranger" is a mellow, sweet and darkly intelligent existential comedy
Harold Crick (Ferrell) is a methodical, lonely tax accountant who wakes up one day hearing the voice of a British woman narrating his every move. While this is rather annoying and mysterious, he doesn't become alarmed until the voice predicts his death. Little does he know that author Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is writing a book that eerily parallels his life and intends to kill him off. As Ferrell hunts down the voice, he also consults literary expert Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), begins a relationship with rebellious baker Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and reexamines what he wants in life.
The disc contains six featurettes, many of which are self-explanatory. "Actors in Search of a Story" glories in how every actor chosen was perfect for their part, while "On the Set" is a montage of behind-the-scenes shenanigans set to music.
"Building the Team" investigates how the other crew members contributed to the end product, while "Picture a Number" gave a fascinating look into using a GUI (graphic user interface) to create the strange text and icons on the screen that highlight how math is important in Harold's world. Also, it's fun just to hear all these guys say "GUI (gooey)."
"On Location in Chicago" examines how meticulous director Marc Forster was about selecting locations that revealed the inner workings of his characters, while "Words on the Page" interview producer Lindsay Doran and screenwriter Zach Heim about bringing his script alive.
The extended/deleted scenes are two of the same type of thing. Kristen Chenoweth, playing the fictional Darlene Sunshine, host of The Book Channel's interview show, uses her improv skills to interview Karen Eiffel during the scene in which Harold realizes that Eiffel is his narrator. It's a fun showcase for Chenoweth's skills, since there was very little script for her part, and she further demonstrates her prowess in another interview scene with the fictional author Peter Allen Prothero (played by a crewmember) to be used in the background in Hilbert's office.
While all of these bonus features show just how much depth this high concept comedy actually has, only in passing is it mentioned how everyone is named after mathematicians. The crossovers between literature, math, philosophy and even art (does Ferrell with a green apple in his mouth look familiar?) are numerous, deliberate and hilarious in their own right and shouldn't be overlooked.
EXTRAS: Featurettes: "Actors in Search of a Story," "Building the Team," "On Location in Chicago," "Words on a Page," "Picture a Number"; on the set outtakes montage; deleted and extended scenes