Stranger Than Fiction

Touching dramedy is heavy; won't interest most kids.
  • Review Date: February 25, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Harold learns that there's more to life than doing the same thing (alone) day after day.


Harold experiences some real peril dodging his imminent death (heavy equipment breaks through a wall, etc.). Ana throws things around her kitchen. Some images of animal violence in nature sequences.


Romantic tension between Harold and Ana. Harold studies her breasts. Brief nudity (a character's butt is shown).


Some name calling. "Shut up, you stupid voices!"


A wristwatch figures prominently in the storyline. Also guitars.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The novelist is a chain smoker. A psychiatrist advises Harold to use medication to quell the voices in his head.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some kids will want to see this movie thanks to star Will Ferrell, although they may be disappointed because it's not his usual silly comedy routine. Instead, the film explores some fairly heavy concepts about life and death. Novelist Karen Eiffel is a depressed chain-smoker, and Harold Crick (Ferrell's character) is a loner who suffers severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.

What's the story?

The overly-organized life of IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) turns upside down when he starts hearing the mysterious voice -- which he eventually learns belongs to Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson). The chain-smoking author is having trouble finishing her latest novel, which is about a guy named Harold Crick. And she can't figure out how to kill him off. As you might imagine, Harold seeks help. A psychiatrist (Linda Hunt) thinks medication is the answer. But a literary professor (Dustin Hoffman) has other ideas. He doesn't really believe Harold, but he advises him to figure out whether he's in a comedy or a tragedy. By this point, it's looking like the latter. Providing romantic (and somewhat unfriendly) tension is bakery owner Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who Harold is auditing. She hurls insults at him, and, in short, doesn't make his job any easier. Still, love blooms in odd places, and Harold finally has something to live for.

Is it any good?


STRANGER THAN FICTION is equal parts drama, comedy, and tragedy. It's a smart movie and a touching reminder that life is unpredictable and messy. But that's OK. We still need to live and not be afraid to experience new things. Some of the movie's best scenes are those of Harold branching out in the world.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the meaning of life. No, really. This movie is all about living life to the fullest and not sitting carefully on the sidelines while everyone else has all the fun. On the flip side, how can you have fun and experience new things but stay safe at the same time?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 9, 2006
DVD release date:February 27, 2007
Cast:Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Will Ferrell
Director:Marc Forster
Studio:Sony Pictures
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some disturbing images, sexuality, brief language and nudity.

This review of Stranger Than Fiction was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byjohnnydogmatic April 9, 2008
Educator and Parent of a 8, 10, and 12 year old Written bytcbueti January 8, 2009
age 10+

intriguing and surprising

My husband and I stumbled on this move while channel surfing and were hooked on its neat premise--a man discovers his life has been created by an author. We thought our kids (8,10 & 12)would like it and we were right--especially our 8-year-old! He thought the idea of having your life narrated was hysterical. Since they all like to read, the idea of an author creating a person's existence, and of the character trying to control the outcome of the story, was very cool for them. The point about connecting with people and taking chances was not lost on them, but the parts that were too mature were very brief and basically went right over their heads. We are still quoting from and laughing about this movie, weeks later. A find! However, I think most kids would be most interested in this film after age 10 or 11. It's not the usual slapstick Farrell.
Teen, 13 years old Written April 9, 2008


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