Though undeniably clever and engaging, Adaptation is such a schizophrenic film that if you latch onto one of its many personalities it’s bound to disappoint. Personally, I loved the first half and felt cheated by the second, but that’s the whole point, and there is satisfaction in the way the film cheats you. But it’s perhaps not as much satisfaction as would come from the character-driven, thoughtfully-written first act carried over the full length.
To focus on its strengths, Adapatation can boast a quite ingenious premise and phenomenal acting. It’s also got plenty of genuine laughs, in that best and hardest form of comedy that comes from our understanding of the characters. Chris Cooper won the Oscar for portraying the mercurial John Laroche, whose knowledge, experience, and philosophies make up many of the movie’s best moments. Meryl Streep seems to have fun as Susan Orlean, and Nic Cage is superb as the twins Charlie and Donald. It has all the elements of an all-time great, and though I ultimately felt a little cheated, this is a movie that might taking more than one viewing to fully judge.