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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.54%
Worth A Look35.9%
Average: 20.51%
Pretty Bad: 24.36%
Total Crap: 7.69%

6 reviews, 42 user ratings

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Majestic, The
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by Erik Childress

"Capra Up To The Very End"
3 stars

The Majestic is one of those Capra-esque ďset against the backdrop ofÖĒ movies that we donít see much of anymore. Maybe people canít sit through the gently-down-a-stream plot unfoldings or wonít buy the amount of corn syrup inherent in such a tale to cover Sissy Spacek from head to toe. We may have become more cynical since the time of Frank Capra and an audienceís patience has worn thinner than Ally McBeal caught under a steamroller, but good storytelling never goes out of style. Frank Darabontís new film The Majestic captures that Capra feeling for the better part of two-and-a-half-hours, yet still manages to come up short just when it could have sold us.

We set our scene in the 1950s when Joseph McCarthy was starting to earn his reputation is an ďismĒ. The Blacklist was in full swing and Hollywood was taking the brunt of the punishment. Screenwriter Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey), ready and willing to compromise his art at the drop of multiple suggestions from studio executives, has just been tagged. With his film shut down and his life in turnaround, Peter unwisely takes a drunken drive off a bridge over troubled water.

Washing up on a beach with no knowledge of whom he once was, Peter is taken to the nearby town of Lawson, a quaint Capra-esque pleasantville thatís lost over 60 of their boys to the war and where everyone knows your name. They believe Peterís name is Luke Trimble, an MIA war hero to whom he bares a reasonable resemblance. Citizen after citizen notices how ďfamiliarĒ Peter looks, but Lukeís father Harry (Martin Landau) takes the final nail out of his coffin to convince everyone (quite easily) that Luke has returned. Peter needs a little more nudging however and it takes not one, but two passionately tearful speeches from Harry to satisfy his quest for identity.

Also not exactly sure is Lukeís old flame Adele Stanton (Laurie Holden), who becomes a guide to the details of their relationship. Both of them share a love for the cinema and that seems to be the one thing that Peter can recall caring about in his old life. This comes in handy since Harry owns the local rundown movie theater (The Majestic) and wants Luke/Peter to be a part of the renovation. Of course, as the town is slowly brought back to life and Peterís own life is on the Yellow Brick Road, government agents are looking to play the part of the Wicked Witch.

When The Majestic focuses on the town and Peterís assimilation into it, we are treated to that old-fashioned Capra feeling. The nostalgic attitude its characters have towards the cinema and the classics that they get to see for the first time remind us of how magical the silver screen can be for all of us. Adele even chose what she wanted to be when she grew up by seeing a movie, a feeling I can certainly identify with. I wish this theme about the magic of movies was more prevalent throughout the rest of the film and astute moviegoers will pick up on the irony of the final title playing at The Majestic. Thereís nothing too heavy during this period and we donít have much to think about. Itís just a simple, nice story.

Screenwriter Michael Sloane though fails to deliver the big Capra Climax though. Weíve known for two hours where this story is headed and the scene is set for Carrey to have his applause-worthy Jimmy Stewart moment (or big Oscar clip.) But the passion just isnít there. The big speech is underwritten and is hardly a speech at all, playing more like a simplified Cliffs Notes version of Jimmyís Mr. Smith rant. Either the filmmakers didnít think a modern audience would buy such a maudlin rambling, especially after enduring two hours of sweet tooth surgery or they just didnít realize that they had the corn without the pop. Carrey downplays the scene (well, mind you) but the words just arenít there, so neither is the applause.

Itís a big disappointment and threatens to sink the rest of the film. A shame considering that if it aspired to and earned the four-star rating it was desperately going for, I could have finally agreed with other critics blurbing that ďthis is just the kind of movie that audiences need right now.Ē The Blacklist is such a timeless tale of lies, betrayal and honor that you can plug it into any timeline and it would make sense. Remember, Joe Liebermann is just McCarthy with a different last name. Some of Capraís most beloved films, including Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, were released during WWII. Itís a Wonderful Life premiered not long after the war ended (and bombed at the box office.) Weíve got Osama now, and weíll know about The Majesticís B.O. receipts soon enough. Whether it stands the test of time or not is another story.

Jim Carrey really is at his Jimmy Stewart best here, taking on a role not unlike the everyman roles of the great everyman himself. There is only a minor character arc for Carrey to travel here, but he does it admirably, never trying to take an easy way out through a laugh. Martin Landau is at times heartbreaking as the father who is reborn with the belief that his son has been resurrected and Laurie Holden makes a really nice breakthrough here as the down home girl with a heart of gold and ideals which shine even brighter. With such an all-star and recognizable-face cast, itís hard to find someone who doesnít make you smile. The Majestic even boasts the most celebrity voice cameos since ďDear America: Letters Home From VietnamĒ.

Smile seems to be the optimum word to describe The Majestic. By not running the gamut of emotions, thatís about all weíre left with. And thatís OK by me. Darabontís previous efforts, the Stephen King prison adaptations ďThe Shawshank RedemptionĒ and ďThe Green MileĒ had some darker undertones to them, but it wouldnít be out of the yard to suggest that Jimmy Stewart couldnít have played the roles occupied by Tim Robbins and Tom Hanks. Darabont, now given a chance to completely shoot outside of the prison walls, continues to prove that heís a wonderful storyteller and can hold our interest even in the realm of two-and-a-half hours. As an accomplished screenwriter (and adapting the King stories himself), I only wish that Darabont took a stab at this screenplay, for he may have been able to find that pop that would have made The Majestic stand the test of time. Many people enjoy basking in the sun for hours, but a little shade makes us appreciate the warm all the more.

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originally posted: 12/21/01 17:02:32
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User Comments

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5/07/13 Charles Tatum Good stuff desperately needed to be edited down. 4 stars
9/05/11 RLan An enjoyable movie. One of Jim Carrey's better performances. 4 stars
8/14/10 robin lupinacci My dad was a decorated WWII vet, this film reached me in it's reminder of sucn values 5 stars
7/02/09 cindy Love this movie, one of Jim Carrey's best. 5 stars
12/26/05 Ben Knapton one of the most boring films ever made. 1 stars
8/08/05 Bad Critic A good film, but its running time could have been cut down a bit. 4 stars
1/04/05 HL Jim Carrey is Very Good...Story Contrived...Worth Seeing Though. 4 stars
7/06/04 R.W. Welch Overly slushy, but manages to hold your attention. 3 stars
3/04/04 daimon Pretty good 4 stars
2/01/04 Dean Carrey's best role. 4 stars
5/30/03 soliddrummer cheezy, rediculous, overly idealistic garbage. for some reason I liked it. 2 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby Not as I'd feared: it's actually interesting and inolving -- to a point, though. 3 stars
4/11/03 Jack Bourbon I couldn't believe this movie thought I would buy its message. Jeez Loueez! 2 stars
3/09/03 Hannah This is the stupidest movie I've ever seen. 1 stars
1/06/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng A wonderful story. Jim Carrey was great! 4 stars
1/05/03 WestcoastPunk Why does Carrey always get screwed in his movies. Once again a great performance 5 stars
11/26/02 Monster W. Kung Jake, you must be a retarded redneck fucking idiot or something. 1 stars
9/24/02 Jake Should of been nominated for Best Film instead of that Lord of the Rings rubbish 5 stars
9/04/02 Joe Zappa How can you not like this movie. Darabont & Rubberface are gods. Best courtroom scene ever! 5 stars
8/23/02 Danielle Ophelia Oy. I've digested less sugar in an entire family-size bag of Jolly Ranchers. 3 stars
8/19/02 Mr. Hat (I'm Back!) Another "Miracle Movie" from the true God Among Directors Frank Darabont!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/07/02 Kent Jim Carrey imitating Jimmy Stewart. The story was very predictable and got to be real dumb. 2 stars
7/10/02 Kevin I think Carrey is a very good dramatic actor... A very welcome feel good movie 5 stars
6/24/02 Del Didn't like the ending, but the ride was nice 4 stars
3/15/02 the movie moose critically shamed but excellent film 5 stars
2/28/02 Tiffany Thunderhurst Comic genius Jim C. still wanting to be serious actor; scores higher than usual this try. 4 stars
2/26/02 ownerofdajoint whatahugedisappointmentcouldntbelievehowtotallylamewantedarefunda 1 stars
2/07/02 Butterbean Carrey should go back to talking out of his asscheeks and stop trying to win an oscar nod. 2 stars
2/01/02 E-Funk Cute and cheesy...I think a lot of people missed the idea of a film emulating old Hollywood 4 stars
1/01/02 Greyjack Yay, a movie w/scenes about how great movies are. Still, it's not awful, I guess. 3 stars
12/31/01 poetchuck Heartwarming - good performance from Carey 4 stars
12/29/01 RazorDog So sugar coated I have 4 new cavities. 4 stars
12/25/01 daniboy agree COMPLETELY with A. Hershey. I had so high expectations for this one... 2 stars
12/25/01 A. HERSHEY This Film was VERY disapointing 2 stars
12/24/01 ajay Filled with so much cheese I was ready to puke. 1 stars
12/23/01 JL It's not a complete waste of ur time...a lot of great historical stuff if anything 4 stars
12/22/01 spaceworm USA TODAY: Slap, then dismiss, that bitch Claudia Puig. 4 stars
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  21-Dec-2001 (PG)



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