My Favorite Charlie Kaufman Movie
My favorite Charlie Kaufman movie is that one about the sad white man. The movie starts right at the part where he realizes the world is somehow both more meaningless and more complex than he thought it would be, and now he’s just going through the motions.
You know, the one where the main character thinks he’s smarter than everyone around him but no one else seems to recognize it or give him the love and validation to which he thinks he’s entitled for being smart.
It’s the one with the clever script — it breaks all the rules! The audience knows, that Charlie Kaufman knows, that the audience knows it’s a movie. You know, so it’s meta. The movie is about the sad man, but it’s also about movies themselves, and the act of watching a movie, and the act of writing a movie, and the act of trying to explain to everyone else how much smarter you are than them without actually having to say it.
The only one smarter than the main guy is you, the audience member, because you’re watching this movie and you understand it. You know words like synecdoche and lacuna, and who John Malcovich is.
I forget the name, but the man is really sad, and that’s how he knows he’s smart. He’s smart enough to know that in this world, if you have any brains at all, you’d definitely be sad.
Being smug is more important than being happy.
Why can’t things just be simple, the man thinks to himself. I think he was wearing a bathrobe, or a white tee shirt. He’s smart but not productive in the way that Society thinks you should be productive. He doesn’t go to work in a suit. Who made those rules anyways? He doesn’t need to wear a tie and go to an office building.
The guy, you know, the one played by that actor who’s famous but not an A-lister, who we all know but who isn’t in US Weekly, you know, that guy? Well he’s attracted to the much more famous girl. And she doesn’t understand him, or how strange things have become in his world. And he’s angry that she doesn’t like him as much as he likes her.
Why can’t things just be simple!
The world is strange and coming apart at the seams. Or maybe it’s always been this way?
The man has to deal with all of these weird things, and he does it with a look on his face like, I’m smart enough to analyze my way out of this. But he can’t, that’s the thing. He’s not as smart as he thinks he is, or maybe he is, but it doesn’t matter in the end.
The girl doesn’t want to be with him for no reason other than complications. Things are complicated with smart people, even though the man knows he’s smarter than her so he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want him desperately.
So that’s the one I like. Can’t believe I’m forgetting the name, but at the end, the character gets what he wants, but he realizes it wasn’t actually what he wanted, and he’s stuck because we’re all stuck in an endless cycle of daily life and movies about sad men written by Charlie Kaufman.