Cable Guy, TheReviewed By the Grinch
Posted 04/13/00 13:47:35
I have to profess something. I love Ben Stiller. And I love Ben Stiller's seemingly ordinary, but profoundly twisted sense of humor. And this movie has Ben Stiller written all over it. I almost gave this 4 stars, but I knew deep down that I would've been holding back!For those of you who, like me, religiously watched the brilliant "Ben Stiller Show" during all ONE of its seasons, I don't have to tell you that this movie was like a 'Fuck You Fox Network!' reunion. All the principle people from the Ben Stiller Show were present, taking their patented jabs at contemporary America. I can only guess that much like Stiller's much-admired/short-lived variety show, The Cable Guy went over the public's head like Bill Shatner's toupe in a wind tunnel.
I don't know, maybe people wanted the over-the-top Carey they knew from the Mask and Ace Ventura? Maybe they expected Dumb and Dumber, Too? Whatever the case, The Cable Guy roasts America's love affair with television with the gusto that only Stiller can deliver.
Carey proved with The Cable Guy that he could play a satirical but more subdued character. There was more than one occasion where he could've absolutely flown the coop ala Liar, Liar but instead opted to play the role of "Chip Douglas" with compassion, energy, and humor...and alot of desperation. Matthew Broderick is perfectly vanilla as his clueless target for affection, Steven. Also welcome are cameos by Janeane Garofalo, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross (from the sickly funny 'Mr. Show'), Andy Dick, Ben Stiller himself, and Eric Roberts (!).
Part of the brilliance in the movie is in the script. The sequences involving Chip and Steven's interactions could've been culled directly from a primetime sitcom. It's not all dark though...the satirical scenes where Carey's character starts humming along with the movie's soundtrack are a simple device...and yet hilariously funny. All of the pop culture references that Chip pulls out of his head to relate to Steven are simply overwhelming...everything from those "you've got...dandruff!" commercials to 'Reality Based' tv programs. You really have to watch this movie more than a couple of times to catch everything.
The source of the sadness and dark overtones are inherent in Carey's character. His whole identity and personal codes of conduct come entirely from television. "Chip" is an observer instead of an active participant in life. He must live vicariously through the lives of others (whether on t.v. or in real life) and this is the source of his frightening psychosis.
This isn't to say that the entire movie is creepy or a bummer...on the contrary, Chip's cartoonshly ludicrous torment of the straight-laced Steven is the source of many of the film's most inspired comedic moments.If you aren't an American, then (understandably) the humor might not connect with you as much. But horrifyingly enough, this movie hit very close to home. Anyone who has noticed the effect television has had on the way we interact will realize how on the mark The Cable Guy was. A bit ahead of its time, and sure to end up a cult classic.
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