STARRING: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris

1998, 104 Minutes, Directed by: Peter Weir

truman.jpg (7430 bytes)Is The Truman Show science fiction? I'd like to think so, even though the film's producers would probably like to sell it as a Jim Carrey comedy. But with its theme of a character realizing that all isn't what it seems like in his perfect little world reminded me most of Dark City (although it is an entirely different movie altogether) and some science fiction short stories. It perhaps reminded me most of a Frederick Pohl short story about a small town being "resurrected" and experimented upon by a ruthless advertising company.

However, I think that audiences expecting a typical manic Jim Carrey movie like Liar Liar or The Mask would probably be disappointed. People who dislike his usual comic style (like myself) would probably be the ones most surprised by The Truman Show. It has Carrey in an unusually restrained and sympathetic mode - it is probably director Peter (The Cars That Ate Paris, Picnic At Hanging Rock) Weir's doing: after all, he managed to coax a similar restrained performance from Robin Williams in Dead Poets' Society way back then.

The success of Carrey's role depends on him playing the so-called "straight-faced man" - the only one who's sane while everything around him is strange or unusual. Despite letting his usual hyperkinetic slip occasionally, Carrey (I'm glad to say) carries the role off excellently.

So what's The Truman Show about? No doubt everybody knows by now: how the Carrey character is living in an artificial town that is actually an enormous television studio. His every move is being broadcast as a live television show. Carrey himself is, of course, unaware of what is going while everybody else in the "town" is. While The Truman Show isn't a comedy as such, there are some very funny moments along the way as Carrey gradually begins to suspect the truth of his situation. Screenwriter Andrew Niccol, who penned the genetic engineering gone rampant cautionary tale Gattaca, also makes some points about our media obsessed society.

None of the insights are particularly profound or new as anybody who has recently pondered the implications of Princess Diana's death and your average Oprah Winfrey show will know. However, with today's standard multiplex-friendly movies The Truman Show must count as very clever entertainment.

I suppose that The Truman Show's points have to be made again - although The Truman Show never really examines our own roles in media today. Somehow it is easy for us to criticize paparazzi chasing Princess Diana around while still buying (and poring over) the magazines and newspapers that extensively feature those paparazzis' work.

Some critics have stated that The Truman Show is unlikely, that people wouldn't watch a show about somebody leading a boring and unexciting life such as Truman's. Well, if that's the case, then page through People magazine sometime and look at the photographs of your favorite celebrity strolling in the park . . .


# 41
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Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies
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