Being John Malkovich

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    Ever wanted to be someone else?


    Being John Malkovich is the first teaming of director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

    An unemployed puppeteer finds employment as a filing clerk in the 7 1/2th floor at an office building. One day, he finds a hole hidden behind a cabinet, which leads into the head of John Malkovich, an actor who is playing himself in the movie. Anyone who goes inside inhabits John Malkovich's head, seeing what he sees and feeling what he feels, for about 15 minutes, at which point they are dumped on the side of the New Jersey turnpike.

    Things get worse. Hilarity Mind Screw ensues.

    Tropes used in Being John Malkovich include:
    • Ambiguously Gay/If It's You It's Okay/Heterosexual Life Partners: The nature of Lotte and Maxine's relationship by the end of the film is open to interpretation.
    • And I Must Scream: The final fate of Craig, who is forced to watch the life of Malkovich's daughter being raised by the woman he loved and the woman he hated. This also happens to Malkovich while Craig was in control of his body for eight months, and this could be his situation for the rest of his life depending on how the whole host thing works.
    • As Himself: His middle name is changed, he's never been in "that jewel thief movie" and he doesn't live in New York, but John Malkovich is indeed playing the actor John Malkovich.
    • Bizarrchitecture: A classic example. I mean, 7 1/2th floor??
    • Black Bug Room: Lotte and Maxine run through Malkovich's.
    • Brick Joke: When Craig finally leaves John Malkovich's mind forever, he's holding the plank of wood he had at the very beginning.
    • California Doubling: The whole movie was shot in L.A., but set in New York. When Lotte falls out onto the New Jersey Turnpike for the second time, look in the background for some palm trees that shouldn't exist.
    • The Cameo: Charlie Sheen, Sean Penn and Brad Pitt all play themselves.
    • Downer Ending: And how. Craig jumps into the portal too late. As a result, he is trapped inside the mind of the girl being raised by both of his former wives, unable to affect anything. Forever. The last lines of the movie are him weeping and pleading that the girl look away from the two women laughing and playing with each other. To be fair, he did turn into a psychopathic Jerkass.
      • Not to mention Malkovich is stuck trapped in his own body forever, after having a moment of freedom when Craig leaves his body.
    • Evil Versus Evil: There are no genuinely moral characters in the film, save Malkovich himself, and even he's painted as a bit of a pervert in the trip through his memories. Everyone else is trying to take control of Malkovich, and worse his as yet unborn daughter, with no regard for the fact that they're essentially killing them by suppressing their consciousnesses forever.
    • Femme Fatale: Maxine.
    • Foreshadowing: Lotte spends the whole first half of the movie making ridiculous, flower-child psychology statements like "Elijah is suffering from some childhood trauma". Then, when Lotte is struggling against the ropes she's tied in, Elijah has a first-person flashback to when his parents were tied up (complete with monkey-language dialogue and English subtitles), and he couldn't untie their bonds before he was captured.
      • Craig performs "Craig's Dance of Despair" with a puppet at the opening, then performs it using John Malkovich's body.
      • Near the beginning of the movie Craig and Lotte are making dinner and the parrot is being annoying. When Lotte goes to put it up it says "Help! She's locking me in a cage!" and it's kind of cute. Later in the movie however when Craig goes crazy and stuffs Lotte in a cage, she screams "Help! He's locking me in a cage!"
      • Early on, Maxine asks Craig, "Are you a fag?" By the end of the movie, she's in a lesbian relationship.
    • Genre Busting: A comedy drama laden with surrealism which functions as a borderline philosophy course.
    • Grand Theft Me: The entire point of the doorway inside the Mertin Flemmer Building. Turns out that Mertin has been using it for decades to jump from host to host as his current one grows too old... which means that little Emily is doomed to become the next victim.
      • Except she isn't, because Craig's already in there.
    • Granola Girl: Lotte, and how.
    • If I Can't Have You: Lotte to Maxine in the film's climax.
    • Karma Houdini: Lester and his friends, Maxine, Lotte... everyone except Malkovich himself, really.
      • Although it's arguable that, with Craig already inhabiting Emily's mind, Lester's plans for her have been foiled. And as for Craig himself... Yeah, Karma's a bitch.
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    Malkovich: Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich?
    Malkovich: Malkovich Malkovich.