The Majestic

The Majestic


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Majestic would not have been made during the Clinton years. It's so old-fashioned. George W, on the other hand, looks as if he was weaned by Frank Capra's wet nurse. This one's for him.

Jim Carrey plays Jimmy Stewart in a homespun piece of whimsy that is far too long (152 mins). He's a budding Hollywood scriptwriter, called Peter Appleton, who is about to be summoned before the UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1951 for joining a college debating society, which turned out to be a front for Communist sympathisers. He went, he insists, to one meeting to impress a girl. And that was it.

Copy picture

Before giving evidence in Washington, he gets drunk, goes for a drive and crashes over a bridge into a river. Next day he's washed up on a beach, still alive, conveniently suffering from amnesia, and is taken to a small town, called Lawson, where just about every youth of recruitable age was killed in the war.

Luke Trimble, son of Harry Trimble (Martin Landau), who owns the local picture palace, now closed and dilapidated, symbolising the end of innocence, was one of them. Guess what? Peter looks exactly like him. When he walks down Main Street, the townsfolk think it's a miracle. What does he know? Perhaps Harry is dad and this is home and Adele Stanton (Laurie Holden) is the girl he was supposed to marry.

"Do you remember me?" she asks.

"No," he says. "But I'll sure try."

Lawson is Capraville, stuffed with stock characters from the days before Rebel Without A Cause. The diner cooks wholesome food. The sheriff is everyone's friend. The lighthouse on the clifftop is their place.

"We used to come up here all the time," Adele says. "To watch the sunsets."

The tension between the Feds on Peter's trail and Luke's resurrection as the great white hope of Lawson is washed away in a flood of sentiment. In movies, such as It's A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart was not a cipher. He could be depressive and irritable. Carrey, by contrast, is sunny-side-up, an insecure man who discovers his roots in the shadow of a young war hero.

It's too good to be true and so appears false.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2002
Share this with others on...
The Majestic packshot
Jim Carrey is a Hollywood scriptwriter in the Fifties who is mistaken for a dead war hero.
Amazon link

Director: Frank Darabont

Writer: Michael Sloane

Starring: Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Laurie Holden, Allen Garfield, Amanda Detmer, Bob Balaban, Brent Briscoe

Year: 2001

Runtime: 152 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


Search database: