Norbert Ruebsaat

I went to see the film Adaptation because it was recommended by a friend who thought I would like it because it was multilevelled, and I have been trying to find a way to tell him why I didn’t. Adaptation is about a Hollywood scriptwriter who tries to write an intelligent movie about passion and ends up writing and being in (this is the multilevelled part) a violent thriller. The film had many fewer of the technological onslaughts that make it hard to differentiate reality from special effects in other movies, but it featured enough of them—strategically placed—to scare me, which Hollywood movies often do. Nicolas Cage, the star, is a hunky Hollywood actor who, I was told later, had put on a substantial layer of fat over his muscle for his role. Early in the movie this character jerked off while telling us in a whiny voice-over that he was a loser whom women couldn’t stand being near. The sound of Cage’s faked voice, and the sight of the fat layer jiggling on top of his buff shoulder as he jerked away, were my first clues that the movie was bogus, and things went downhill from there. Cage’s antagonist was an orchid thief who talked about passion and his desire to play himself in a documentary about orchid geeks (I imagined for a few seconds that I was watching this documentary, then realized that this was another multilevelled moment). After some shenanigans with his love interest, a New Yorker writer played by Meryl Streep (Cage’s character jerked off again while looking at her photo on a book dust jacket, and later watched as the image morphed into Streep topless on a porn site), the car crashes came on and the muzak leaked in, and then there were more car crashes and gunshots and more muzak. That’s when I realized I was in for it. My partner said afterwards she thought the movie was supposed to make people who didn’t think much think they were smart; I said I thought it was a feature-length piece of intellectual product placement, the product being the Hollywood movie formula and the placement being the diet-enhanced body of Nicolas Cage. The only multilevelled part of the movie I liked was the end, when the credits rolled and revealed that the crocodiles—which had looked pretty realistic when they ate the orchid geek in the studio back-lot swamp, accompanied by violent music and explosive sound effects—had in fact been puppets.

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Norbert Ruebsaat

Norbert Ruebsaat has written many articles for Geist. He lived in Vancouver and taught at Simon Fraser University.


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