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The Majestic

Starring: Jim Carrey, Martin Landau and Laurie Holden
Directed by: Frank Darabont





To appreciate The Majestic you've got to go in with two things firmly behind the eyes…a love of old fashioned feel-good golly-gee Gene Kelly/Jimmy Stewart style films and an open mind towards one of our greatest comedians. I say open mind because if you're expecting Jim "The Ass Ventriloquist" Carrey in this you'll be sadly mistaken - this guy can act and he's left the monkeys, sarcasm, and howls in his bag of tricks for another day.

Story goes…. It's the early 1950's and rising Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) has it all; the budding career, the beautiful gal and the smart car. That is until the notorious Un-American Activities Committee is served up his name as a communist.

Seems Peter, unfortunately, innocently attended a meeting back in college with a gal he was smitten with in a hound-dog way. None the less this group he hung out with in hopes of humping, according to the commitee, breeds American hating commies. Peter of course is innocent as a lamb - the communist part I mean - but the studio he works for would rather not be associated with him….it's the dreaded unspoken "blacklist" for him.

Buh-bye.

His movie is cancelled, his contract torn, and of course his gal pal - a starlet with her sites on fame - skadattles faster then fat multiples on Rosie O'Donnell's thighs!

Poor Peter. Not only has his life vacated the lot, but he is to appear before the House Committee and turn in all his fellow commie friends; which of course do not exist. Peter doesn't mind, he's a writer…he'll just make them up to appease these folks.

But overwhelmed by the day's turn of the coats Peter finds solace inside a bottle of rotgut. After he drinks himself into a stupor he fancies himself a nice ride up the coast line…

Liquor + life trauma + a coast + car = a dramatic accident. Peter finds himself washed ashore in a small coastal town with a bad bump on the head and a bad case of amnesia. Peter learns , quickly, he looks like a local man that never came home from the war. In fact all the townsfolk believe him to be this missing native named Luke. So strong is the physical resemblance between the two men, even the father (Martin Landau) of Luke himself believes (or at least wants to believe) Pete is Luke.

While Peter grows into his new life as this Luke, the government agents, especially one creepy erroneous dweeb (Bob Balaban), believe if they "find Peter, they'll find a hornet's nest of commie bastards." Remember Peter disappeared just as he was to have "testified" against his "fellow" communists. Now their witch hunt is rocket fueled.

Naturally they catch-up with Peter and drag him back to Hollywood to face their wrath. But before he's wrangled, Peter has time to learn this guy Luke had it swell. Luke was a real American who wouldn't have taken the committee's phony baloney. He believed in our constitution, standing up for yourself, and our incredible freedom (it's not even illegal to be a communist by the way!) is what makes America truly great. Sniff.

I adore Jim Carrey - yeah, yeah he's a studmuffin extravaganza of tremendous proportions - but edible portions aside he can really act folks. I loved Truman and his spin as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon was nothing short of brilliant. There are two impeccable "acting" scenes within all his work here that are of particular note. First is when Jim is drunk as Peter, it's subtle and realistic. One of our greatest bendable comics restrained himself and didn't for a nanosecond honey baked ham the scene up, he showed his immense talent for the serious and as a result the segment was spectacular. Another is his final monologue to the beatty eyed rats, er, agents, on the committee. Jim had to deliver a pretty tough sentimental all-American triumphant sonnet. And he did it with, again, a strong subtle spark. He even gets a few well-placed non-slapstick laughs. Jim embodied this character, it's a remarkable performance and he's just apple pie sweet through-out.

The rest of the cast does a fine job of filling in the pieces. Laurie Holden, even in the fashions, looked too modern to me. But her smart-small-town girl was zalright. Martin Landau was a tad over the top. Then again his character did just rediscover his "son" after nine years of thinking he was lost at war…. that old cynicisms slipping in again…. drat!

The cinematography by David Tattersol and production design by Gregory Melton is breathtaking. The whole film is a masterpiece of cinematic paint.

Admittedly at times the film is a bit melodramatic and even down right corny but at others it is surpisingly unpredictable and refreshingly realistic. Believe me if this were black and white and had the name Frank Capra (to who's style the film is an homage) it would be placed in the classics area. And The Majestic is what it is and claims to be, a sweet romantic old fashioned patriotic infused yarn in the style of film making long forgotten. Bravo!

Snack recommendation: Cherry cokes and a meat loaf

 

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