It's been four years since Tom Hanks played Everyman in Forrest Gump, so I suppose the world was ripe for a repeat. You really can't go wrong with these Man-against-the-world/triumph-in-the-face-of-overwhelming-odds films, and done right they can have incredible appeal.
Thankfully, The Truman Show is done right, mostly. In case you live under a rock, you know that this is the story of a man (Carrey) who slowly discovers his life is a sham, a cradle-to-grave story that's been televised to the world for 30 years.
The melodrama factor is high, both on the show and behind the scenes. From Truman's saccharine wife (Linney) to the overbearing director of the show, Christof (Harris), everyone in the film is a walking cliché. Part of this is by design--these are actors playing actors playing real people--but part of it is a crutch that, in the end, weakens the film. Every one of the supporting characters is wasted to some degree--it's especially visible with McElhone's character, an extra that Truman falls in love with against Christof's master plan.
It's scenarios like this that give The Truman Show its real weight: The "what would happen if..." developments that, of course, culminates with, "What would happen if Truman tried to escape?" That's where the drama is, and that's what makes The Truman Show compelling.
For what it's worth, Carrey's in fine form, but if you're looking for Liar, Liar antics you will be sorely disappointed. Director Weir has obviously kept him on a short leash, and while Carrey's improvised scenes can be spotted here and there, the broad comedy is kept to a bare minimum.
I can't help but think that with a little more thought to the supporting characters, The Truman Show would have been a classic. As it stands, it's still good, but it doesn't quite live up to its own hype.
The new Special Edition DVD includes three making-of documentaries, plus four deleted scenes (really worth watching, if only to see Meryl in a neck brace).
Yo-Jimbo! You made the papers!
Run time: 103 mins
In Theaters: Friday 5th June 1998
Box Office Worldwide: $264.1M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Scott Rudin Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 117 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 8.0 / 10
Director: Peter Weir
Screenwriter: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, Laura Linney as Meryl Burbank / Hannah Gill, Noah Emmerich as Marlon, Natascha McElhone as Lauren / Sylvia, Ed Harris as Christof, Holland Taylor as Truman's Mother, Brian Delate as Truman's Father, Blair Slater as Young Truman, Heidi Schanz as Vivien, Ron Taylor as Ron, Don Taylor as Don, Ted Raymond as Spencer, Peter Krause as Lawrence, O-Lan Jones as Bar Waitress, Krista Lynn Landolfi as Bar Waitress, Paul Giamatti as Control Room Director, Harry Shearer as Mike Michaelson
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