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The Truman Show

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Truman Show

Starring: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney
Director: Peter Weir
Rated: PG
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: June 1998
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Noah Emmerich, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris, Brian Delate, Una Damon, Paul Giamatti, Philip Baker Hall, John Pleshette

Review by Walter Frith
3 stars out of 4

As Jim Carrey's career moves forward, we are reminded that under the rubber face of a stellar comedian is a man with the potential of being a great actor. Surely, Carrey has a long road ahead of him to prove he has the endurance of Robin Williams, who began his career much in the same way that Carrey did and is presently celebrating his career achievements with an Oscar. It will be interesting to see where Carrey is in 10 years. Definitely a bankable star, Carrey went for but fell just short of the record for having five consecutive films earn 100 million dollars or more, domestically, at the box office. 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective' (1994), 'The Mask' (1994), 'Dumb and Dumber' (1994), and 'Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls' (1995) all made more than 100 million but Carrey's disappointing romp in 'The Cable Guy' (1996) snapped the streak he was going for. In case you're wondering, the record belongs to Tom Cruise, whose five consecutive 100 million dollar efforts are 'A Few Good Men' (1992), 'The Firm' (1993), 'Interview With the Vampire' (1994), 'Mission Impossible' (1996), and 'Jerry Maguire' (1996). A recent analysis of the movie industry reveals that Cruise is actually 3rd among active box office stars for total money grossed worldwide. 2nd is Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford is #1.

Meet Truman Burbank. He's the first person to ever be legally adopted by a corporation. The reason: to put his whole life on television for the entertainment of a global audience, 24 hours a day, and without commercial interruption. As 'The Truman Show' begins, Truman (Jim Carrey) is a happy go-lucky fellow, well into his thirties who lives in the virtual reality town of Seahaven where some 5,000 hidden cameras operate to capture the events that unfold in Truman's life. Actually and as described as virtual reality, Truman's world in the small town is actually a giant television studio, the largest ever constructed, behind the "HOLLYWOOD" sign and along with the Great Wall of China, is the only man made object visible from outer space. Truman's wife (Laura Linney) and his best friend (Noah Emmerich) are actors and the town's population are extras for the staging of the entire television production under the control of a well meaning but misguided producer named Christof (Ed Harris).

Truman's life is kept well under control and the film is convincing in its explanation of why Truman has never left Seahaven, even for a vacation. He longs for his first true love (Natascha McElhone) who left him earlier in his life when she was about to reveal the truth about Truman's life as a t.v. show and the studio set up in general and she was pulled from the production by Christof. Even more convincing and cleverly executed by the film makers is the way that Truman begins to learn the truth about his life and how he has been deceived. Little by little and slowly but surely, he begins to discover elements that lead him to believe that something isn't quite right with his life and he is determined to seek out the truth. Easier said than done as Christof keeps him locked in the studio as his attempts to leave are usually compounded with a weather storm, available by remote control or a road block accompanied by some story of disaster such as a forest fire or contamination spill, preventing Truman from leaving.

As described in 1976's 'Network' by news anchor turned tabloid prophet Howard Beale (Peter Finch), television is in the "boredom killing" business in which each scenario must be packaged into a neat 30 or 60 minute time slot. 'The Truman Show' elevates that theory as Truman Burbank's life is real and the purpose of television is inverted in his case and messages about the big brother syndrome are also well displayed as a metaphor and the film's most important quality is the message of how the human spirit will not be contained by anyone or for anyone.

Writer Andrew Niccol has penned an entertaining, evenly constructed and strikingly original screenplay which is among the most interesting seen so far in the 90's and director Peter Weir is the perfect man to have made 'The Truman Show'. His previous films such as 'Gallipoli' (1981), 'The Year of Living Dangerously' (1983), 'Witness' (1985), and 'Dead Poet's Society' (1989), are all examples of how films can entertain without injecting any elements of the usual Hollywood endings which are often pretentious, a cop out or just downright unbelievable. 'The Truman Show' will leave you wondering what is more important: one man's life living in Utopia or the challenge of living life with all of its hurdles? It's an interesting question not often asked by Hollywood in such an original or thought provoking manner.

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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