More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 32.42%
Average: 9.13%
Pretty Bad: 7.31%
Total Crap: 6.85%

12 reviews, 147 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Over the Moon by Jay Seaver

Rebecca (2020) by Jay Seaver

Easy Money by Jack Sommersby

Leap by Jay Seaver

Run (2020) by Jay Seaver

Pelican Blood by Jay Seaver

Save Yourselves! by Jay Seaver

Dead by Jay Seaver

Devil All the Time, The by Rob Gonsalves

Wolf House, The by Rob Gonsalves

subscribe to this feed

Truman Show, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"Some of the best work of everyone involved."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL: After "The Truman Show" screened during this 24-hour movie marathon (from a gorgeous 35mm show print), I tweeted somewhat hyperbolically that it was the best work everybody involved has ever done. There was some disagreement about specific people, but I think it's telling that people responded with exceptions rather than wholesale disagreement with the premise. "Truman" is excellent from top to bottom, a somewhat overlooked classic.

15 years on, its premise is still somewhat audacious: Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) has been raised on a soundstage the size of a small seaside town for his entire life, unaware that everybody in that life - his mother (Holland Taylor), his best friend (Noah Emmerich), even his wife (Laura Linney) - are actors improvising around his actions and nudging him in the direction dictated by the show's creator Christof (Ed Harris). Today, though, a crack appears in this perfect artifice when a stage light falls from the sky, and he's still haunted by the true love (Natacha McElhone) that the products whisked away before she could reveal the truth.

There are some people who will look at that description, invoke the words "reality TV", and comment that Andrew Niccol's screenplay was prophetic. I think they are rather far off-base, though - while many television programs today are technically unscripted but heavily guided down a certain path, the stars are all willing, active participants, and this style has become popular because it's cheap enough to produce that it can turn a profit in a world whose tastes are incredibly fragmented. The Truman Show's concept of everyone the world over watching an elaborate, expensive program whose star is not taking his personal brand into account is the opposite of prescient, and that's fine. It's better than fine, really; it's the reason why the movie endures.

That may seem counter-intuitive, but consider that the time Niccol wrote something that was specifically a media critique (S1m0ne), it was a hollow mess. Instead, Truman is a personification of more universal themes: The fear that everybody except you is in on a secret, aspiring to more than your station in the world, wanting to move on to something new but feeling blocked at every turn (and guilty for wanting to). Everybody understands feeling like the world is specifically trying to hold them back, and a lot of folks would welcome a chance to tell the Creator just where he can stick his plan. Sure, there are some observations about the media and its consumers in there as well - I love how, in the last act, voters are able to completely ignore their complicity because they've been presented with a traditional underdog story - but as Christof says during an interview, this story works because Truman is genuine.

Truman is also Jim Carrey turning in his best performance in what is likely the best role he will ever have. This is where I got the most disagreement on the "everybody's best work" thing, with a lot of votes for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I love that movie and performance too, but where it's an underrated actor surprising by playing against type, Truman Burbank is Carrey and director Peter Weir leveraging Carrey's particular strengths - a manic, larger-than-life demeanor and an almost child-like sweetness - into the bedrock of a dramatic performance. On the one hand, Truman seems like a part where Carrey can coast, built so that his wild-man act makes sense in the film's world (you can imagine young Truman being subtly encouraged to be entertaining), but on the other, Carrey at his funniest here is also Truman at his most revealing. The jokes are never just jokes, and Carrey never has to shift between funny and serious for the audience to get the point.

He's supported by a pretty fantastic group, too. Consider the jobs done by Laura Linney, Holland Taylor, and Noah Emmerich; they have to present their characters as genuine enough for Truman to believe in them without looking like a fool but with enough obvious artifice that the cruelty of their deception hits home. Emmerich, especially, does a great job of making the audience wonder about a guy in this situation, especially in comparison to Natacha McElhone's character. There's almost a hidden story arc with her as she goes from star-struck to conscience-ridden and then never stops torturing herself for it, and it's perfectly played even though what everybody says points in an easier direction. Josh Charles, Harry Shearer, Paul Giamatti, and others help sell this unreal world. And then there's Ed Harris, playing an intriguingly complex but unconflicted artist who positions himself somewhere between fatherhood and godhood and yet is so oblivious to the arrogance involved and convinced he's doing something good that it's hard to completely cast him add the villain of the story. Harris is brilliant in the way he combines this sort of monstrous certainty with affection, and presents him as a believable visionary who can still be the last to realize that he's lost control.

It's a peculiar collection of ingredients, but director Peter Weir does a bang-up job of mixing them so that they always develop into something that makes sense as a whole. He brings a light touch to moments that are inherently sinister, always making sure that the audience status focused on Truman rather than some larger but ultimately less interesting issue. He and his crew create Truman's world as an comforting throwback to simpler times but include enough modern elements that it's not a referendum on nostalgia. He's also very careful about how and when he shifts the focus to the outside world, always keeping the right balance between the film's fantastical premise and the very human center. It's a work of incredible precision that still has room for plenty of whimsy, and that's probably much harder than doing something obviously pointed or satirical.

That's an impressive achievement, and while I haven't seen enough of Weir's filmography to truly declare this his best work, it almost had to be right up there. All hyperbole aside, "The Truman Show" is strikingly good in all areas, and if you haven't seen it in a while, you might be surprised at just how uniformly excellent it is.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 02/27/14 12:04:40
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Boston SciFi Film Festival For more in the 2014 Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/26/14 Richard Brandt Weir takes a Philip K. Dick premise and runs with it; scarily predicts reality TV 4 stars
2/13/14 Martin Some plot holes but a funny, original, underrated film. Very memorable. 4 stars
7/02/09 cindy So-so. Found it kind of disturbing, not very funny. 3 stars
4/02/09 Dane Youssef One of Jim Carrey and cinema's finest hours. I would put it next to "It's A Wonderful Life" 5 stars
12/01/08 Roz One of Carrey's best films. Got me thinking "am I in a TV show without knowing it?" lol 5 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner Never laughed so hard in my Life!! 5 stars
8/13/08 Brenda Not a Carrey fan but I liked this movie 4 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White too unbelievable 4 stars
10/04/07 big blow it was good but what happends to him when he leaves 3 stars
7/01/07 fools♫gold "Eternal Sunshine", which was a bit better than this, onlyPROVESMr.Carrey is aseriousactor. 5 stars
1/11/07 David Pollastrini great concept 4 stars
7/15/06 David Cohen It's very nice that ytou want to be a serious actor Mr. Carrey, but you ain't got it kid 3 stars
7/06/06 Hermes Machado The movie is awesome for a single reason, it doesn't fill the blanks, leaving it to us. 5 stars
3/08/06 richard citra EXCELLENT!!! 5 stars
1/13/06 Indrid Cold Doesn't quite fulfill its potential, but still very original and entertaining. 4 stars
12/03/05 Jennifer S. Excellent film! Jim Carrey's best work, ever. 5 stars
3/15/05 R.W. Welch Far-out but intriguing premise. Another "save" for Harris. 4 stars
3/07/05 Billy Bob it was very really super natural. it makes you fell like a power ranger :) 1 stars
9/04/04 Angela It's one of those great films that really makes you think 5 stars
7/17/04 Peter This film was enchanting. It captivated me, from start to finish. 5 stars
7/12/04 DM Why can't Jim Carrey make more movies like this? 5 stars
6/01/04 Nobody Poignant and thought provoking with a dash of humor. Movies dont get much better than this 5 stars
3/29/04 Amy Great movie! I loved it! 5 stars
2/23/04 ethel this movie was the worst most shittiest movie ever, it had the worst story line and was gay 1 stars
1/26/04 Evangelica Schnapfenschalz Much better than CABLE GUY but still vastly overrated. 3 stars
11/24/03 Samuel A great premise and a great film! 4 stars
8/18/03 Nicole Better than I thought it would be 4 stars
8/16/03 Ghetto Smurf Traumatized me for life 1 stars
8/12/03 Double G good 5 stars
6/23/03 Phil M. Aficianado Innovative concept and well doen; precursor of reality TV boom 4 stars
6/11/03 melissa a great film 5 stars
4/19/03 Ubu the Ripper Just not believable. Cable Guy is still Carrey's best. 3 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby Why would millions want to watch such a boring person? 2 stars
3/19/03 Kat Clarke seen it way 2 many times....but Jim still rocks 3 stars
3/17/03 Peter The movie that made me think about life the most(alongside the Matrix).. Brilliant... 5 stars
3/13/03 Shadaan Wier is a great film maker. Definately worth a look. 4 stars
1/22/03 Pinkline Jones Carrey is average. Ultimately overrated. 3 stars
10/16/02 Charles Tatum Great, telling stuff 5 stars
8/13/02 P.Rodriguez This is 1 of the best film ever made. A masterpiece. Peter Weir rocks 5 stars
8/08/02 Nevz I really enjoyed this film. Imaginative to say the least.. 5 stars
7/08/02 internetwhore cheese is not the word. god, what are you people on. this movie BLOWS GOAT. 1 stars
5/29/02 Shrike Check it out for a touching laugh 4 stars
5/27/02 Nicole Surprised at how much I enjoyed Jim Carrey 4 stars
4/29/02 Rockitman007 Great Weir Movie. (Gotta love the fake reviews below) 5 stars
3/29/02 isheunesu magwaza peter weir did his best,so did jim carrey.Its a 4 stars film-worth alook 4 stars
3/19/02 kkkkkkkkkkkk ppppppppppp 1 stars
1/03/02 Turtle Jim Carrey turns out a surprisingly dramatic performance in this great, fun movie. 5 stars
12/29/01 Craig Carrey was great, but unfortunate the movie wasn't. 1 stars
12/29/01 Ron Carrey was great in "Maple Drive", but not here. 1 stars
12/29/01 James A great idea that was badly let down by a poor script 1 stars
12/29/01 Jessica This film was a huge disappointment. It could have been so much better. 2 stars
12/29/01 Luke The satire in this film needed a total re-write - it was predictable and hollow 1 stars
12/29/01 Tim This had great potential, but the ending is such a disappointment 1 stars
12/29/01 Samantha This could have been a great satire on popular culture, but it sadly falls well short 2 stars
10/31/01 Andrew Carden I Found It To Be Confusing and Boring, and In Need Of A Much More Exciting Script. 2 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Not to follow the hype, but Carrey was impressive and the movie was really, really good. 5 stars
8/07/01 Joe Zappa Very creative. Jim Carrey should've been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. 5 stars
7/03/01 moviegoer I absolutely loved this movie. I cried, laughed, and everything in between. 5 stars
5/27/01 Marijan Srdic One of the BEST movies of all time! 5 stars
5/15/01 P.Rodriguez Loved it! Nuff Said 5 stars
5/14/01 robert large truman is beauty made human, he is everything i 5 stars
3/09/01 GH It stole its story line from "Being There." 3 stars
2/26/01 Big P. Absolutely awesome. Carrey delivers an oscar-worthy performance. 5 stars
2/15/01 joh brilliant! insane! 5 stars
2/13/01 Jake Unique and exquisite 5 stars
1/31/01 Big Isil Proves that Carrey can do a "serious" role. excellent 5 stars
12/30/00 Emily it was just REALLY GOOD. well written and well cast. 5 stars
12/27/00 Turtle Jim Carrey is totally awesome! A must-see! 5 stars
11/29/00 katie oxtoby i thought it was very thought provoking and a fantastic performance by jim carrey. 4 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla The weirdest show i evers seen!!! 4 stars
10/23/00 P. Rodriguez Yep like that TwZ episode, but still Weirs' finest work 5 stars
10/11/00 P. Rodriguez Fantastic Ending and great acting consistent throughout 5 stars
8/04/00 Elvisfan It was OK, solidifies the fact that Jim cannot do drama very well 3 stars
6/01/00 danilo unmissable 5 stars
4/18/00 foxgroundcolt wierd 3 stars
3/28/00 Richard Wright Avery clever film rather let down by a stupid ending. Still well worth seeing, though. 4 stars
3/09/00 David Rogers This movie is not one of Jim Carrey's best but better than Ace Ventura or the Cable Guy. 4 stars
3/06/00 Kyle Broflovski Far from faultless, but it made me use "Jim Carrey" and "brilliant" in one sentence. 4 stars
1/16/00 Anthony Kincaid changed my opinion of Jim Carrey, something I never thought would happen... amazing film 5 stars
11/07/99 Anthony Ellis A movie that, in the end, amounts to absolutely nothing. A real overrated disappointment. 1 stars
11/04/99 Mickey "Father Death" MacJohnstmyster Nothing special , but still good . Jim Carrey attempts to make a few jokes , doesn't work 4 stars
10/07/99 Anne Morrissey "Good morning, and if i don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night" 5 stars
8/19/99 Bob, Lord of Evil Watch me tip the balance to the forces of fucking awesome. Watch me. 5 stars
8/11/99 Ed Wood over hyped piece of crap 2 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg A triumph, but if you're looking for Carrey comedy, this isn't the place. 4 stars
7/04/99 randy grubbs too much jim carrey the comic. too over rated 2 stars
6/28/99 Ricardo A real proof that the Oscar is something to disbelieve... Shapeskeare must to agree on it 5 stars
6/22/99 Angie it was good...a little slow at times....let;s face it Jim's just not funny 4 stars
6/19/99 Jude Hmm.... Truman Show is definitely over-rated... it is not so good actually........ 2 stars
5/23/99 GothamDK This movie was a waste of time. Kept on waiting for something to develop...still waiting. 2 stars
5/11/99 Angie not bad, definitely Jim Carey's best 5 stars
3/30/99 H33eather I have never been so disappointed in a Jim movie in my life, can we say DULL!! 1 stars
3/24/99 Mark Reilly Last 10 minutes were GREAT .. but WAAAAAAAAAYYYY too late 2 stars
3/09/99 Go Swans Why wasn't this nominated for 13 Oscars? Shakespeare in Love can kiss my ass 5 stars
3/04/99 ed bushnell Like most Peter Weir movies, this gets better (and creepier) each time you see it. 5 stars
2/20/99 little jerry Though it's a good film ,being hailed as wildly original seems a tad over the top. 4 stars
2/19/99 Bruce Hedge Wonderful comment on modern (future) society, imaginative,succinct, thought-provoking. 5 stars
2/18/99 Bishop What's all the hype about? so many things could make this better, Carrey's OK. 3 stars
2/09/99 Bob, Lord of Evil Second best picture of the year. 5 stars
1/22/99 Fire-N-Ice It started out kinda boring but it ended up pretty good 4 stars
1/18/99 Yo Momma Great! 4 stars
1/15/99 donkey_dew YOU CAN DO IT TRUMAN...HOLD ON!!!!! 5 stars
1/03/99 Charles Dubé Don't miss it. Carrey gives touching and relatable performance. **** stars! 5 stars
1/03/99 Dasha One of the best movies of the year. 5 stars
12/11/98 Brent O.K. film. Wait for it to come out on video. 3 stars
12/08/98 sarah worst movie!!long,boring,no point.carrey should be funy or nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
12/06/98 d`d` I honestly left the theatre looking at everyone and everything thinking "What if??" scary. 5 stars
12/05/98 Jason Stein Awesome 5 stars
11/27/98 Mr.Pink One of the best films of the year!!! 5 stars
11/13/98 Waldo Mitty Predicatble, moronic wank 1 stars
11/02/98 Darkhero1 One of the best movies of the year. Completely original and trippy. 5 stars
10/27/98 WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS! 1 stars
10/24/98 Timmy C Definitely one of the better films this year. 4 stars
10/17/98 y very interesting ideas not fully developed. far better then most main stream films 4 stars
10/02/98 Paul It was entertaining the first time, but I can't see myself watching it again. 4 stars
10/01/98 Simple Pimple This was a great looking, well directed movie. I usually hate Carrey, so I liked this. 5 stars
9/26/98 MR HOLLYWOOD!! ORIGINAL,FUN AND COMPLETELY HARMFUL FUN. Carrey deserves an Oscar !,Ed Harris Sux!! 5 stars
9/25/98 Pat Flanagan It was a good movie, one of the best ones of the year. 4 stars
9/25/98 ShadowStar Way too predictable 3 stars
9/23/98 TrAcY Better than "Titanic"! :) 5 stars
9/13/98 Joeri Ok movie. Seen it twice, worth a third time. 4 stars
9/12/98 ARMA-FUCKN-GEDDON Unique story, Carrey is great again, Harris is cool.. Not as good as "GREAT" as I had hoped 4 stars
9/12/98 Tiffany This Movie Rocked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/09/98 dov Great, symbolic, short and sweet, but why Carrey? 5 stars
9/07/98 kyle chlebowski cool 5 stars
9/06/98 BBReBozo Fine little movie. Ed Harris' character pissed me off. 4 stars
9/04/98 Badass Very clever. Though the movie doesn't really uncover nothing new. It is a somber CABLE GUY 5 stars
9/03/98 The Patriot Didn't trip my trigger. Too nice. 2 stars
8/27/98 {{{OZ}}} Of course he got back with the chick. it's the movies. 5 stars
8/25/98 Miss Stress DID HE GET BACK WITH THE CHICK????? 4 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Superb filmmaking. Forget it's carrey and enjoy a great film. 5 stars
8/23/98 Dutch Liked the film alot, but in the end, was disappointed. Could have been so much more. 4 stars
8/23/98 Mister Whoopee This was one pretty ass movie. 4 stars
8/23/98 Superfly Good movie, but Jim Carrey didn't deserve all the "Best Actor" hype upon it's release 4 stars
8/18/98 spork-girl funny, but not all it was made out to be. 4 stars
8/17/98 Pythomas Almost worthy of Twilight-Zone-episode status. 5 stars
8/16/98 Johny A little too sugar-coated, but a good flick. Could have been better. 4 stars
8/14/98 VioLenT BoB Some Funny Funny Moments.....and some boring as shit ones...oh well. 4 stars
8/14/98 sean The scene on the boat almost made me cry. (the opposite of "Titanic") 5 stars
8/14/98 roxy i saw it on my birthday. yay. presents. 5 stars
8/13/98 {{OZ}} Looks good. Real good. Mmm good. 3 stars
8/13/98 clark no smart ass comments from me, so it must be a damn good movie. 5 stars
8/13/98 Rotten Milk Sweet flick. 'Nuff said 5 stars
8/12/98 Beetchslarp Worth a geek 5 stars
7/14/98 Ryan_A I haven't done this in a while. A fine fine flick. 4 stars
6/10/98 CC best movie I've seen in '98 so far 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  05-Jun-1998 (PG)
  DVD: 23-Aug-2005


  25-Oct-1998 (PG)

Directed by
  Peter Weir

Written by
  Andrew Nicol

  Jim Carrey
  Ed Harris
  Laura Linney
  Noah Emmerich
  Natasha McElhone
  Holland Taylor

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast