Stranger Than Fiction (Character, Our Actions)
Main Point of Discussion: We must realize that the way people would describe us shows how well we represent Christ.
The Movie Clip: “The voice. It’s narrating.”
Stranger than Fiction is a thought-provoking movie about a man named Harold Crick, played by Will Farrell, whose life is dull and monotonous, until one day he hears a woman’s voice narrating his life. As the story unfolds, Harold discovers that he is actually the character of a novel, a story that ends with Harold’s death. Harold must hurry to find the author, before the author comes up with a way to finish Harold off.
The clip we will be using takes place toward the beginning of the movie, when Harold first hears the voice of the narrator. The scene is broken up into four sections, the first when he is brushing his teeth, the second on his way to the bus stop, the third when he is finally at his office and the fourth when he tells his co-worker Dave about the voice. If the clip is too long, it could work with starting later or ending sooner. However, I think the whole clip is very well put-together, and I’d use the entire thing.
Introducing the Clip:
Today we’re going to watch a clip from the movie Stranger than Fiction. The movie is about a guy named Harold Crick. He’s played by Will Farrell. In the movie, Harold Crick is actually the character of a book that an author is writing. The scene we’re going to watch is toward the beginning of the movie, when Harold Crick first hears the voice of the author, narrating Harold’s life. Listen to how she knows not just what Harold is doing, but what he is thinking. After we watch the scene, we’ll break up into small groups and discuss the scene.
BEGIN CLIP AT 4 minutes and 2 second (in Chapter 2).
- Narrator: If one had asked Harold, he would have said that this particular Wednesday was exactly like all the Wednesdays prior. And he began it the same way he—(Harold pauses from brushing his teeth. The Narrator’s voice pauses also. He begins brushing again.) And he began it the same way he always did. (Harold stops brushing and looks at his toothbrush.)
Harold: Hello? (He begins brushing again.)
Narrator: He began it the same way he always did. When others’ minds would—
Harold: Hello? Is someone there? (He resumes brushing.)
Narrator: When others’ minds would fantasize about their upcoming day or even try to grip onto the final moments of their dreams, Harold just counted brushstrokes.
Harold: All right, who just said, “Harold just counted brushstrokes?” And how do you know I’m counting brushstrokes? Hello?
(Now Harold is seen tying his tie in front of a mirror.)
Narrator: It was remarkable how the simple, modest—(Harold turns and looks over his shoulder, then resumes.) It was remarkable—(He pauses again and the voice stops. He goes back to tying.) It was remarkable how the simple, modest elements of Harold’s life so often taken for granted, would become the catalyst of an entirely new life.
(Harold is seen crossing the street outside.)
Narrator: Harold ran for the bus, his stiff leather shoes making a terrible squeaking sound as they flexed against the asphalt. And though this was an extraordinary day, a day to be remembered for the rest of Harold’s life, Harold just thought it was a Wednesday.
Harold: (speaking to stranger at the bus stop) I’m sorry, did you hear that? The voice. Did you hear it? “Harold thought it was a Wednesday?”
Stranger: Don’t worry, it is Wednesday.
Harold: No, no, did you hear it? “Harold just thought it was a Wednesday?”
Stranger: Who’s Harold?
Harold: I’m Harold.
Stranger: Harold, it’s okay, it’s Wednesday.
Harold: No, no, I—(He cuts himself off.)
(Harold is seen in his office.)
Narrator: Harold couldn’t concentrate on his work. His thoughts were scattered. His mind elsewhere. (Harold walks by some colleagues in a discussion.)
Colleague: Hey, Harold. What’s 67 times 453?
Narrator: When a coworker asked the product of 67 and 453—(Harold tries to do the math, but is distracted by the Narrator’s voice.)
Harold: (speaking to Narrator) You know what? I can’t think while you’re talking.
Narrator: He drew a blank. Harold quickly answered, “30,351.”
Harold: What? Oh, nothing. 30,351.
Narrator: Despite the answer really being 31,305.
Harold: Wait, wait, wait. 31,305. Sorry.
(Harold is in the filing room, just standing there, still.)
Dave: Dude, I just totally caught some insurance adjuster claiming his jet ski as a work vehicle. It’s a shame they don’t give out an auditor of the year award. Dude? You okay?
Harold: Dave, I’m being followed.
Dave: How are you being followed? You’re not moving.
Harold: It’s by a voice.
Harold: I’m being followed by a woman’s voice.
Dave: Oh. Okay. What is she saying?
Harold: She’s narrating.
Dave: Oh. Harold, you’re staring at boxes, what is she narrating?
Harold: No, no, no, I had to stop filing. Watch. Watch. Listen. Listen. (Harold begins filing again.)
Narrator: The sound the paper made against the folder had the same tone as a wave scraping against sand. And when Harold thought about it, he listened to enough waves every day to constitute what he imagined to be a deep and endless ocean.
Harold: Did you hear that?
Dave: You mean you filing?
Harold: No, no, no, the voice.
Harold: Frightening part is sometimes I do imagine a deep and endless ocean.
Dave: What ocean?
Harold: The one made by the sound— Forget it.
Can you imagine what it would be like if someone were following you around, narrating your life? What kinds of things would they say? For Harold Crick, you find out that his life is boring and redundant… but what about your life? How would people describe your life? Isn’t it interesting to think along those lines—how people would describe how you live, the things you say, the way you interact with other people, the things you think about? Today we’re going to talk about what our story looks like. If you were going to be the character in a book, how would the author be describing you?
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we get started, let’s go around the circle. Tell everyone your name, your grade, and if you got to be any fictional character for one whole week, who would it be and why?
- ASK A FEW: If someone were going to write you as a character in their story, how would they be describing you as you are now?
- ASK A FEW: Why might it be important to think about how people see us?
- ASK A FEW: For living the Christian life, do you think that your reputation is important? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: How could a good reputation help you as a Christian?
- ASK A FEW: How could a bad reputation hurt you as a Christian?
Read the following passage:
Matthew 7:16-18 (NIV)
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
You know, the more we discuss it, the more it really seems that our reputation is important, doesn’t it? Our reputation really tells us how we are doing in our walk with Christ. I want so badly to be that kind of tree that produces good fruit. Jesus said that people will just look at us and be able to tell what kind of a person we are. When people look at you, do they see someone who follows the Lord? Or do they see someone else? A lot of us say that we are Christians and that we love Jesus, but what kind of tree do our actions describe us as?
Today, let’s not forget this. We must be showing by our actions what kind of Christ-followers we are. Think about the kind of person you are. Think about the kind of character you would make in a story. Would you be a hero or a villain? Remember the commitments you made in your small groups. It’s time for us to be trees that produce good fruit. Let me pray for all of us in here.
Close in Prayer
Written by Matt Furby
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.