The Truman Show (1998)

Great premise, adequate execution.  Mild-mannered man learns life 
is all about television.  Literally.  As the title character Truman 
Burbank, Jim Carrey plays it straight-- no butt-talking and only an 
occasional yelp, squeal, or funny face.  It's not a particularly 
evocative performance, though.  Carrey doesn't plumb any dramatic 
depths as much as he, well, behaves himself.  (He's both the best 
and worst actor for such a role, I do believe.)  What he isn't is 
affecting and neither is the film.  At least not on a narrative 
level.  As allegory or satire (or both), the story serves up a 
bonafide embarrassment of riches, with plenty to enjoy and react to 
and think about later.  (The smallest details are the best, such as 
the paranoid posters in a travel agent's office.)  As a plain ol' 
sci-fi tinged summer movie, however, THE TRUMAN SHOW is all over 
the map:  sluggish in spots, well-paced in others; hard to believe 
here, picture-perfect there.  

The first hour is the hardest to settle into, with director Peter 
Weir's ever-shifting POV.  (Are we watching as a watcher?  As a 
watcher watching the watcher??  As a watcher watching the watcher 
watching the watcher???)  Also problematic is the Truman Show it-
self, which is bland beyond belief.  (And you thought *Seinfeld* 
was about nothing...)  Of course, that's Weir and screenwriter 
Andrew Niccol's none-too-subtle point.  Ha ha.  At about the hour 
mark, THE TRUMAN SHOW kicks into high gear.  The man behind the 
curtain is (fully) revealed (Ed Harris as the show's divine creator 
Christof) and the story takes on a clear and more-focused direct-
ion.  And, to the filmmaker's credit, we're absorbed in every sub-
sequent scene.  Hell, you might even forget some of the movie's 
more nagging questions, such as "what sort of method acting is in-
volved in trying to have a baby?"  Cue the sun.  With Laura Lin-
ney, Noah Emmerich, and Natascha McElhone.  (Rated "PG"/103 min.)

Grade: B+

Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: June 7, 1998

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