The Majestic

THE MAJESTIC. 2001

Director: Frank Darabont

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



I remember the advance previews made The Majestic look just boring as all hell so I avoided seeing it. But I read several reviews that insisted Jim Carrey was nowhere near as annoying as he has generally become, that this one almost qualified as a dramatic role, & its portrait of McCarthyism & the Hollywood blacklist was dead-serious stuff.

So I eventually decided to watch it. It started off pretty workmanlike, a politically correct view of McCarthyism with no sense of irony & by no means serious enough for Carrey to bring any conviction to the role. For a moment it seemed like it was going to be nothing but a very bad remake of The Front starring Woody Allen.

But then the Carrey character gets in a car crash, loses his memory, wanders into a small town, & it all turns into an appallingly bad imitation of Frank Capra's Meet John Doe & It's a Wonderful Life, not to mention a slight touch of The Return of Martin Guerre.

Carrey is mistaken for a a hometown lad who everyone believed had been lost in the war, but here he is back safe & sound, though without any memories, so his aging father (Martin Landau) & his girlfriend (Laurie Holden) & everyone else in town try to re-acclimate him to being "Luke," hoping he will regain his memories. It's pure Hollywood shtick & it is never for a moment convincing.

To underscore its Hollywoodisms, "Luke's" elderly dad lives in the run-down, closed-down movie palace called The Majestic. It's not much of a setting really; it certainly doesn't look like one of the old movie palaces, & this being the 1950s, the architecture probably wouldn't even be old enough to be so run down already. But the place is a gawdawful mess until the Whole Community is motivated by the Glory Of Luke's Return to remodel & reopen the crumbling palace, which is quite easily done very hastily between scenes -- another unbelievability for anyone who has ever remodeled even a shack.

When Carrey's character does recover his memories, no one likes him anymore, & he's sad. Sniff, wah, boohoo. He's whisked off to the senate hearings before the Committee of Unamerican Activities where Joseph McCarthy (Hal Holbrook) & others try to make a monkey's ass out of him as a commy pinko enemy of the state even though by then they knew they'd made a mistake. Carrey pulls a preposterous speech out of his ass & since its being seen on tv back in the small town that no longer likes him, everyone forgives him instantly for making them feel foolish.

The happy ending struck me as very perverse, when the dead soldier's girlfriend seems ready to get married to a dead man's look-alike. That's just creepy. Jim Carrey's just creepy. The fact that he keeps appearing in films that fail to acknowledge how creepy he is just underscores how tiresome he has become as an actor in over-produced & ultimately vacuous commercial pablum. He's never made a film as good as The Mask, when hardly anyone knew who he was & he wasn't given much of a film budget. Success took his moderate talent & turned him boring.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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