In some ways this movie is the cinematic equivalent of artificial insemination using a dead man’s swimmers. A.I. had been on Stanley Kubrick’s back, front, and middle burners at various times since the early seventies. For a while, it looked like it wouldn’t see the light of day until development hell froze over and, when Kubrick kicked it after completing Eyes Wide Shut, it seemed inevitable that A.I. would forever remain as Kubrick’s great “lost” project.
Prime illustrates that sharp writing and good casting can overcome a story that strains credibility to the breaking point. The main plot point of this film depends on a series of coincidences akin to getting struck by lightning on the same day you win the Powerball lottery. Fortunately, the actors and the characters they inhabit hold our empathy enough that we almost don’t notice.
I was sorely tempted to let my imaginary twin brother, Larry, write this review, but he was partaking of one of his many philanthropic pursuits, leading a deer hunting trip for a group of kids from the Braille Institute, and hasn’t been seen since.
Adaptation has a great deal in common with the other Charlie Kaufman films, mainly in how it plays with reality like your cat played with that gopher it caught in the back yard. While it’s “officially” based on the non-fiction book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), the movie is actually about Charlie Kaufman’s unsuccessful effort to write a usable script from the book, as well as about the author’s relationship with the subject of the story, a self-styled botanist named John Laroche (Chris Cooper). The other storyline revolves around Charlie’s fictitious twin Donald and his attempt to become a screenwriter like his brother.