I am a Will Ferrell fan. But unlike most of his trademark over-the top obvious physical humor, “Stranger Than Fiction” could do for him what films like “Eternal Sunshine” did for Jim Carrey and the highly underrated “The Weatherman” could have done for Nick Cage. These films manage to surround their characters in a kind of surreal fog, but one immersed in a real world. In this context Ferrell is rock solid.
This film, not to be confused with the classic low budget Jim Jarmusch film “Stranger Than Paradise” portrays Ferrell as a lonely, anal, IRS agent who begins to hear his life narrated in his head. The arrival of these voices happens to coincide with his audit of a lovely anarchistic baker (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who has purposefully underpaid her taxes. There is an odd and lovely pace to things in this quasi-real place, but ultimately, clever gimmicks aside, there is a genuine kind of emotion associated with every once of onscreen time. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and probably end up liking Ferrell more than you thought.