In Adaptation, the twins Charlie and Donald Kaufman are opposites in many ways. How do they respectively represent film as art and film as (Hollywood) entertainment? And is this a crude dichotomy that the film, in the end, argues against?
How does the film reflect the perils and pleasures of writing? How does the writing process differ, for instance, between Susan and Charlie? How about between Donald and Charlie?
Does the voice-over narration in Adaptation work in terms of presenting the interior lives of the characters? Or is it merely a gimmick, as screenwriting guru Robert McKee (a character in the film) suggests?
How is the biological aspect of adaptation treated in the film? How does biological adaptation (or evolution) relate to the changes the characters of the film undergo? How does it relate to writing a film?
In many ways, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred in Adaptation. Give an example or two of this, and make a case about whether this blurring makes the film more, or less, of a cohesive and compelling work of art.
At one point, Charlie tells his brother “there is no such thing as the answer.” How else does the film express this kind of postmodern relativism? And how do the characters strive against it, in an attempt to arrive at some kind of certainty?
In its narrative, Adaptation weaves together a number of different plotlines. There are John Laroche’s story, Susan Orleans’s story, and Charlie Kaufman’s story. Does it make it confusing to have so many plot-lines? How do the filmmakers (the director and the scriptwriter) resolve the narrative problems suggested by such a loose structure?
When, at the end of the film, Charlie becomes involved in the type of Hollywood plot he abhors, is the screenwriter Charlie making a comment about selling out to Hollywood, or is he saying instead that this is a valid way—in fact the only way—to end this particular type of film?
The character of Robert McKee, the screenwriting guru that Charlie initially detests, is meant to be a parody of a certain type of screenwriting. But are there things McKee says that really make sense? What are they and how do they represent the reality of the film industry today?
At one point Charlie jokingly makes up a character: the Deconstructionist, a literary critic serial killer. Given what you know of screen-writer Charlie Kaufman, how could he make such a idea actually work in a film?