January 10th, 2003

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Meryl Streep plays author Susan Orlean, a woman who discovers real passion for the first time in her life.Twin-brothers Charlie, left, and Donald Kaufman (both played by Nicolas Cage) discuss the finer points of screenwriting.Of twin-brothers Donald, left, and Charlie Kaufman (both played by Nicolas Cage), guess which one is the life of the party.John Laroche (Chris Cooper) tries to help journalist Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) understand the true beauty of the orchid species.Still of Nicolas Cage and Brian Cox in Adaptation.Still of Nicolas Cage in Adaptation.

A lovelorn screenwriter turns to his less talented twin brother for help when his efforts to adapt a non-fiction book go nowhere.

Release Year: 2002

Rating: 7.8/10 (84,575 voted)

Critic's Score: 83/100

Director: Spike Jonze

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper

Frequently cynical screenwriter Charlie Kaufman has just taken on a new assignment. That is, to adapt writer Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Thief" into a screenplay, all of it based on the life of the eccentric John Laroche, an exotic plant collector based out of Florida. While his easygoing twin brother Donald, is writing scripts with ease, Charlie finds himself on a perpetual struggle that never seems to end.

Writers: Susan Orlean, Charlie Kaufman

Nicolas Cage - Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman
Tilda Swinton - Valerie Thomas
Meryl Streep - Susan Orlean
Chris Cooper - John Laroche
Jay Tavare - Matthew Osceola
Litefoot - Russell (as G. Paul Davis)
Roger Willie - Randy
Jim Beaver - Ranger Tony
Cara Seymour - Amelia Kavan
Doug Jones - Augustus Margary
Stephen Tobolowsky - Ranger Steve Neely (scenes deleted)
Gary Farmer - Buster Baxley
Peter Jason - Defense Attorney
Gregory Itzin - Prosecutor
Curtis Hanson - Orlean's Husband

Taglines: From the creator of Being John Malkovich, comes the story about the creator of Being John Malkovich.


Official Website: Columbia-TriStar [Germany] | Official site [South Korea] |

Release Date: 10 January 2003

Filming Locations: Los Angeles Center Studios - 450 S. Bixel Street, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $384,478 (USA) (8 December 2002) (7 Screens)

Gross: $22,245,861 (USA) (20 April 2003)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Turkey: (TV version)

Did You Know?

Nicolas Cage was given completely separate credits for Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman. The credits were given in order of appearance and each of Nicolas Cage's credits appeared in the order that Charlie and Donald appeared.

Continuity: At the end of the film when Charlie Kaufman pulls out of the parking garage, a woman (Jennifer Porst) sits next to him in the car for a single shot, though he is riding alone.

[first lines]
Charlie Kaufman: [voiceover] Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head. Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I'm a walking cliché. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked...

User Review

The ending

Rating: 9/10

I've read many of the comments regarding Adaptation, and it seems as though most people have disliked this movie because of its ending. They make claims such as, "Kaufman's script was great until the end," or, "Why did Kaufman talk about not wanting to "hollywoodize" his script, and then do it in the end anyway?"

I don't think most people understand why he did it.

Throughout the movie, Kaufman's character keeps stressing how much he doesn't want to make a "Hollywood" film. Hollywood-type films have sex, drugs, car chases, and most importantly, characters who succeed in the end. So at a glance, it seems that Kaufman goes against his inner most desires regarding the film because he does "hollywoodize" it.

But that is what I find to be the most clever part of his screenplay. To explain my point, try to imagine this-what if Kaufman did not "hollywoodize" his script? If he didn't do it, Kaufman would not have added car chases, sex, and drugs. So in a way, if this were the case, Kaufman would have succeeded. But you see, that is the point. Kaufman DID NOT want his character to succeed in the end. Like he explained throughout the movie, "I don't want to have a film...where characters succeed in the end." Thus, since Kaufman ultimately fails at his attempt to adapt Susan Orlean's book into a screenplay in how he originally intended, he delivers a screenplay that is not your normal hollywood film, i.e., a film where the protagonist prevails.

Basically, in order to make his film "un-hollywood," he "hollywoodizes" it. Can nobody see the genius of this?

Anyway, I just thought that I could offer everyone my take on the movie so that you all may perceive Kaufman's ending in a different light.

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