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Stranger Than Fiction

Movie review by
Jane Boursaw, Common Sense Media
Stranger Than Fiction Movie Poster Image
Touching dramedy is heavy; won't interest most kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 113 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 26 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycoolmandude April 9, 2008

It is Ok for kids.

There is one sex part where they show Harold and Ana making out and it cuts of when they fall aslep together (nothing explicit). There is male but and a few cur... Continue reading
Parent of a 8, 10, and 12 year old Written bytcbueti January 8, 2009

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 tho... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byanimalloverkt April 9, 2008

Very deep; very... not Will Ferrell.

This is not the typical Will Ferrell movie. However, it is still extremely good. There's some smoking by Emma Thompson's character to ease her nerve... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpielberg00 August 11, 2011

STRANGER THAN FICTION is truly hilarious. The best of Will Ferrell.

My rating: PG-13 for some suggestive content including a scene of rear nudity, frequent smoking, some language and violent material.

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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