Adaptation (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes


Adaptation (2002)



Critic Consensus: Dizzyingly original, the loopy, multi-layered Adaptation is both funny and thought-provoking.

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Movie Info

Despite the success of his first produced script, "Being John Malkovich," for which he received an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay, Charlie Kaufman is plagued by insecurities, both in his career and his personal life. When he is hired to adapt "The Orchid Thief," a nonfiction book about a fanatical orchid breeder, John Laroche, he is completely stumped. Though, on the surface, the book is about Laroche's flower poaching adventures in the Florida Everglades, on another level it's also about the desire in all of us to experience passion. This longing plagues the book's author, Susan Orlean and, Charlie realizes, himself as well. Charlie's twin brother, Donald Kaufman, only makes things worse when he moves in with Charlie and announces he's going to be a screenwriter too. As Charlie battles his severe case of writer's block, Donald cheerily types away on a script about a serial killer with multiple-personality disorder. Donald's script immediately sells, making him the "hot" new writer in town. Then, one day, Charlie has a last ditch inspiration. He'll use his own dilemma as a framework for the script about Laroche and Orlean. But as the words start to flow, and the story takes shape, Charlie inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events impacting on the lives of all the characters.

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Nicolas Cage
as Charlie Kaufman/Donald Kaufman
Meryl Streep
as Susan Orlean
Chris Cooper
as John Laroche
Brian Cox
as Robert McKee
Jay Tavare
as Matthew Osceola
as Russell
Jim Beaver
as Ranger Tony
Judy Greer
as Alice the Waitress
Doug Jones
as Augustus Margary
Stephen Tobolowsky
as Ranger Steve Neely
Gary Farmer
as Buster Baxley
Peter Jason
as Defense Attorney
Gregory Itzin
as Prosecutor
Curtis Hanson
as Orlean's Husband
Agnes Badoo
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Paul Fortune
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Paul Jasmin
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Lisa Love
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Wendy Mogel
as Orlean Dinner Guest
David O. Russell
as Orlean Dinner Guest
Bob Yerkes
as Charles Darwin
Lynn Court
as Laroche's Dad
Roger E. Fanter
as Laroche's Uncle
Sandra Lee Gimpel
as Laroche's Mom
Caron Colvett
as Laroche's Wife
John Etter
as McKee Lecture Attendee
Ray Berrios
as Police Officer
Nancy Lenehan
as Kaufman's Mother
John Malkovich
as Himself (uncredited)
John Cusack
as Himself (uncredited)
Lance Acord
as Himself (uncredited)
Catherine Keener
as Herself (uncredited)
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Critic Reviews for Adaptation

All Critics (211) | Top Critics (49)

There's no good reason why this should work-the picture is a schizzy, self-indulgent mess-but magically, it does.

March 16, 2020 | Full Review…

Adult stuff only but hilarious and fresh.

September 2, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

In the wrong hands, the lunacy could have gotten out of control, but Jonze has near-perfect pitch. He never forces the farce, rooting even Kaufman's wildest digressions in real emotions.

July 6, 2010 | Full Review…
Top Critic

For two-thirds of its running time the film is close to genius. But there's still no third act.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

Just go see it. Immediately. Today. There are far too few films that make one giddy and excited about the art of making movies. Adaptation is one of them, and it is for the ages.

June 19, 2003 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

It's the sort of movie that keeps reinventing itself and nudging us in the ribs as it does. You'll want to see it soon, because everyone you know will be talking about it.

April 27, 2003 | Rating: A-

Audience Reviews for Adaptation

One of those dolls that open up and voila, there's another doll inside, and so on, and so on. Kaufman lacks a finish but boy, what a show until then! Exemplary performances in this curiosity that explores the idea of making yourself happy, dammit.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


A remarkably intelligent film that blends reality and fiction to make a humorous self-reflection about an author and his creative process, and it boasts some amazing performances (Nicholas Cage is excellent) and one of the most fascinating scripts I can remember.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

A triumphantly meta film that takes every opportunity to take a filmic cliche and completely turn it on its head. This is writer Kaufman's movie as much as it is Jonze's, and the duo manage to provoke laughs, pathos, and thought in this surreal dive into the writing psyche, complete with a wonderful dual performance from Nicolas Cage.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

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