This is the newest movie to be added to my mental list of personal favorites.
Everyone in the cast—Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah, Dustin Hoffman, Tony Hale—was fantastic. The story is weird and funny but sweet and haunting at the same time.
Geeks will like it for a couple of reasons. The first is obvious from the very opening moments of the film. Harold Crick (Ferrell), an IRS auditor who is a math geek, is so obsessive that he counts his steps and toothbrush strokes, mentally overlays geometries on everyday objects, and sees tables and regulations dancing around his head as he does his work. I think most geeks—computer, math, or otherwise—can relate to this (including myself and a number of visual-effects geeks who were interviewed in the extras).
The second is very subtle; my wife first noticed it, and the more we dug into it, the more obvious it became. There is an overarching theme of self-reference and self-similarity, which relates not just to the idea of a story folding in on itself (like a snake eating its tail), but also to a very interesting area of mathematics
-and Harold Crick is a math geek! My wife realized that two character names, Eiffel and Escher, were after famous people (an architect and an artist) whose works had self-similarity figuring prominently in them. As I looked at other characters, more names jumped out-Hilbert and Pascal, both mathematicians, both of whom made contributions in the mathematics of self-similarity. After some digging, I discovered that Cayley (“Cayly” in the film), Mittag-Leffler, and even Crick were also names of mathematicians. Very interesting. Wikipedia’s article about the movie has more about this, including another mathematician’s name, Kronecker (the name of the bus route Harold takes to work every morning!).
So any geek should definitely see this movie, but I think even non-geeks will enjoy it (maybe writers and bakers in particular).