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Overall Rating

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

12 reviews, 147 user ratings

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Truman Show, The
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Profoundly overrated Jim Carrey vehicle."
3 stars

Why do millions of people watch the happy-go-lucky and rather routine daily activities of Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey)? In 'The Truman Show,' an intelligent, sometimes powerful, but ultimately disappointing fable, people sit glued to their TVs 24 hours a day, watching Truman move cheerfully through his sunshiny hometown Seahaven on his way to work.

Some of the viewers, we're told, find his humdrum life soothing — he's living the ideal, conflict-free life. Others, I imagine, are waiting for the moment when he discovers what everyone else in the world knows — that he's living inside a perpetual TV show, "on the air unaware."

The Truman Show, directed by Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society) from a script by Andrew Niccol (who wrote and directed the superior Gattaca last year), takes a rather ugly view of American voyeurism. There they are — there we are — staring at this poor bastard going through his paces. The movie is a metaphor for any number of media evils (it has its spiritual side, too), but it only occasionally probes what it might actually be like to find out that your entire life has been faked — or what it's like to be one of those actors hired to play Truman's wife or best friend. Weir and Niccol haven't really imagined or gotten inside their characters. The film is a skilled and elegant blank (it is significant, if nothing else, as the first and very likely last Jim Carrey movie scored by Philip Glass and Burkhard Dallwitz), and it doesn't end up saying much of anything.

Jim Carrey tries hard — his trying hard registers as conscious restraint, trying not to be wacky — and his performance isn't bad, but it isn't entirely successful, either. At times, he reminded me of Robin Williams working overtime to achieve sad-clown pathos; it may be a few years before Carrey can simply relax and be a normal Earthling, as Williams did in Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting. I suppose my basic complaint may sound ungrateful: Carrey isn't very funny here — he doesn't find humor in Truman beyond the "Good morning! And if I don't see ya, good afternoon and good evening!" shtick we've seen in the ads.

Seahaven is actually a gigantic studio set, run by a Godlike director named Christof (Ed Harris); he's literally the man in the moon — Seahaven's faux moon is his headquarters. Harris is impressive in his intense, bullheaded way, as usual — but what, if anything, does Christof feel about Truman, his greatest creation? And what about the actress who plays Meryl, Truman's wife? Laura Linney, in a terrific Chinese-box performance (playing an actress playing Meryl), shows glimmers of the real woman under the facade, but the script doesn't help her. Does she have a life outside Seahaven? Perhaps even another man? All of these things might have been suggested, painted with delicate strokes and putting small holes in Truman's illusion, instead of the broad hints he gets (a Klieg light falling from the sky, etc.).

The film gets to you occasionally, when it triggers common paranoia and plays on your fleeting thoughts that everything around you has been conspiratorially staged. But it's amorphous; it can be interpreted any number of ways — for a while, I read it as the interior dissolution of a paranoid schizophrenic who has delusions of grandeur and finally hears the voice of God (Christof) in his head. The movie could be that, or it could be a statement about the decrease of privacy or the increase in isolation — and, of course, the media is to blame for it all. But "the media" is a meaningless straw man if you don't also indict its audience — and, in the end, we're let off the hook. The voyeurs become Truman's ardent supporters, rooting for him to break out of the same false reality they've been watching for thirty years.

'The Truman Show' isn't meant to be taken literally, and it may appeal, like 'Forrest Gump,' to softhearted idealists. But some of us may go out wishing for something meatier, edgier. Everyone in the movie seems as confined as Truman, and the gifted filmmakers seem as distant as Christof — looking down on us from the moon and dropping comforting pieties.

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originally posted: 02/03/07 10:45:12
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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
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  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

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