When I read a bad review I want to go directly to the source and read or watch what caused so much trouble -- usually. There are some writers and actors that get an immediate down turned thumb from me. Jim Carrey is at the top of the listu. Yes, he's a great comedian with his rubber face, flat feet and seemingly elastic joints, but he gives me a pain ever since Dumb and Dumber and his performance in Batman as the Joker. I much preferred Cesar Romero.
I decided to take another chance on Carrey and watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and I prefer the animated version with Boris Karloff reading the story. It was much closer to Dr. Seuss's tone and message. The multi-car pile-up that was the Carrey version was simply sappy and I didn't even finish watching it, although the little girl who played the little Who girl was quite charming. I avoid Jim Carrey at all costs -- until a couple weeks ago when I decided to give The Majestic a chance. At least it was drama and not comedy, or Carrey's brand of comedy, and he has done fairly well in other dramatic parts before he started believing his press. I was amazed.
The Majestic is nominally about the red scare during the 1950s when Joe McCarthy got a bug up his bottom about communism and communists. This time it was Jim Carrey as a screenwriter post World War II who gets it in the neck by the studio, his fiancee' and his government because he signed a membership roster of what turned out to be a communist group. The screenwriter was in search of the loose morales of a certain young lady of his acquaintance and did not have the hots for socialism or communism.
Carrey decides to run away, or at least put some distance between himsef and Hollywood and the witch hunt, and ends up in a wreck that sends him flying down the river and onto a secluded beach near a small town in northern California where he is mistaken for one of the hometown boys, now missing for nine years. Since he's lost his memory, he reluctantly goes along with the people in hopes of recovering what he's lost. Instead, he finds something he never knew he needed.
The Majestic is about the 1950s, but it could not have been written or produced or shown during that time. Joe McCarthy and his Red vigilante group wouldn't have killed it in its infancy. There is a nostalgic feel that fits post war America through the beginning of the movie that then descends to a bit of camp and thumbing noses at the senate inverstigative committee in front of which Carrey eventually appears. However, the movie still works with all the schmalz and good feelings that characterize this kind of drama. Carrey gives an -- for him -- understated performance that sparkles for the most part. He is real where he needs to be real and honest and eats the scenery a bit in front of the senate committee, for which I think this time he can be forgiven.
Despite the flaws in this movie, I did enjoy it and heartily recommend it for the underlying message of hope and hometown values espoused. It might remind you -- if you're old enough -- that there was a time when going to the movies was a big occasion. People called babysitters and dressed up in their best finery and went to the air conditioned confines of the magic factory where the seats were plush and the surroundings opulent and full of magic. That's the kind of entertainment I remember, the kind that is far from spectacular chase scenes, over done pyrotechnics, special effects that didn't need computers and acting that was dark and gritty and mostly well done. There were stinkers back in the 1950s, too, but it was also the time of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and movies that touched the heart like The Boy With the Green Hair. It was magic.
I miss dressing up and going out on the town and so much about the times of my youth, and movies like The Majestic go a long way towards bringing them back. If Jim Carrey continues in this less flamboyant style I may go back to watching his movies. This is the actor who tempted me closer with his short-lived comedy The Duck Factory and didn't completely ruin my belief in his abilities with The Truman Show. Of course, that was before he became famous and lauded for his comedic turns. Give me more of movies like The Majestic no matter who stars, like David Ogden Stiers and Martin Landau, among others, and I will get dressed up and go to the movies once again because that will be entertainment.