A Charlie-Kaufmannish metafiction with Will Ferrell as tax man who hears a voice in his head and realizes it’s a narrator anticipating his death. And just when he’s hooking up with Maggie Gyllenhaal! It shouldn’t take him two hours to locate the writer plotting his demise, and the movie didn’t need to be as dull as it is. Even with a setup this far out there, it’s possible to write convincing characters, but Zach Helm didn’t even try. With Emma Thompson as the blocked author, Queen Latifah as assistant sent by the publishers to get her to write (really?!) and Dustin Hoffman as English professor who helps Ferrell figure out what kind of story he’s in. A few cute moments but plodding and predictable overall.

Stranger Than Fiction. Marc Forster, 2006. **