On the surface, Stranger Than Fiction
looks to be a comic vehicle allowing Will Ferrell to stretch a bit and show off some dramatic chops. But this sweet-natured movie is actually heavier on the drama than the laughs. Remarkably busy director Marc Forster, who delivered the magnificent Finding Neverland
in 2004 and the vastly underappreciated and misunderstood Stay last year, finds the right balance of humor and darkness in this undeniably moving film. Ferrell plays Harold Crick, an IRS auditor who hears a voice in his head. That would be disturbing enough, but when the voice announces he will die soon, he gets a little anxious. The voice belongs to Emma Thompson, playing an author writing a novel where Harold is the protagonist, unbeknownst to the fact that Harold is a real person. Dustin Hoffman is great in a supporting performance as a literary professor who tries to help Harold sort out the voice in his head. Funny, sweet and a little darker than expected.