Charlie Kauffman, fat and bald speaks into a tape recorder: "Charlie Kauffman, fat and bald speaks..."

I had a read-through of my sketch/play today. It is currently titled 3 Teachers, but who knows what that will end up being after all is said and done. I wrote the script for the new play festival here, but I might end up keeping a couple of the characters I wrote for other stuff. Or maybe I'll write more stuff about a couple of them. Who knows.


Rewatching Adaptation. last night, I was struck by just how difficult it is to figure out the exact trajectory of the screenplay.

Evidently, this film is what Kauffman turned in when he was given the real-life assignment to write a film version of The Orchid Thief. But we all knew this back in 2002, when I originally saw the film. It is generally accepted that the real transition of the film occurs between the second and third act, after Kauffman has attended McKee's lecture and Charlie's imaginary twin brother and hack screenwriter Donald has joined him in New York. At this point, the film dissolves into all the conventions and cliches that Kauffman had been struggling to avoid using the entire time.

But my question is this: how did Donald come around as a concept at all? Did Kauffman write his meta-adaptation and then revise it to include Donald, or was Donald an original part of the story. I doubt it, considering that Kauffman is not a part of the original story. I also wonder if Kauffman actually attended a McKee seminar while writing this movie. If he did, that makes this whole thing that much better.

Ultimately, Adaptation. is both a denial and a justification of Kauffman's refusal to "write a simple story." When he does, it is the grotesque third act of the film, but it is that third act that propels the screenplay into genius territory. So Kauffman both mocks and indulges in all the typical cinematic cliches, and we get Mery Streep, Nicolas Cage, and Chris Cooper at the top of their games? Plus cameos from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, and Catherine Keener? Maybe I was a little harsh on this one at first.

Nathaniel Tyson

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