Great Movie Scene Chronicles Part II – Being John Malkovich (1999)
“Malkovich? Malkovich. Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich. MALKOVICH!”
Being John Malkovich starts out as a relatively dark movie with quirky humor about a down-on-his-luck puppeteer Craig (John Cusack) who falls for a ravishing woman colleague named Maxine (Catherine Keener) at his new office job. After Craig’s many passes at her, all failing miserably, the two form an odd relationship when he finds a portal that lets you see the world through the eyes of actor John Malkovich (played by John Malkovich, DUDE) for 15 minutes before being tossed on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike once the mind-trip ends. The two begin running a business exploiting the embodiment of Malkovich and the film’s plot takes off when Craig’s wife Lotte (Cameron Diaz) experiences the portal for herself, culminating in life-altering changes to her psyche and changing the lives of Craig, Maxine, herself, and Malkovich forever.
When screenwriter Charlie Kaufman sent real-life Malkovich the script he requested that Kaufman do some re-writes for him on another project and, more importantly, cast someone else in the titular role and let him direct. Kaufman disagreed to both and it took 6 years for Malkovich to finally agree to play himself in the movie. Thank god he did, because this scene came out of it.
What happens when Malkovich finds out about, and enters, his own portal? Here’s what; one of the trippiest and non-traditionally funny scenes in movie history. If only there were more screenwriters that could come up with stuff like this then we could do away with flat one-liners, fart jokes, and the recycled “fat guy falls down and then everyone on screen and in audience laughs” scene. Enjoy!