The Majestic

As an actor, Jim Carrey usually trolls along as a master physical comic in movies replete with dumb humor. Which is why The Majestic is so surprising. Given a chance to actually act minus the lame hijinks, Carrey is actually a capable actor. He exudes warmth, affability and charisma in his role here, a nice change of pace that should happen more often, especially if Carrey (Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Me, Myself & Irene) if he wants the Academy to take him more seriously. The Majestic is a throwback to happier times; an homage to the movies of Frank Capra with a modern twist. It tackles a dark period on Hollywood history, that of the infamous blacklist. Peter Appleton (Carrey) is a Hollywood screenwriter whose first film was just released. In college, he attended a Communist meeting to impress a girl, and now finds himself ensnared in the hysteria involving Congressional hearings. In a drunken stupor, he drives off a bridge and wakes up with amnesia.

The small town of Lawson, discovers him. Lawson lost a large number of men in World War II, and nearly a decade later is still recovering. The arrival of Peter seems fortuitous, since he closely resembles Luke Trimble, one of the men presumed dead. He looks so much like Luke that Luke's father Harry (Martin Landau, Sleepy Hollow, Ready to Rumble) believes that he is. Since Peter has amnesia, he does not know either way. "Luke's" reappearance sparks a revival in Lawson. Just as Luke came back to life, the sleepy, depressed town of Lawson does too. It now has a reason to celebrate. Harry wants Luke to help him reopen The Majestic, their family movie theater. After years of neglect, The Majestic lies in ruins. Now, with Luke's help, they can rebuild the theater like new, a not so subtle allusion to Luke's influence on the town. As Luke acquaints himself with the town, he meets Adele Stanton (Laurie Holden, Past Perfect, Echo), Luke's fiancee. He begins to fall for her, and for the wholesome, loving, small-town atmosphere of Lawson.

Still, the government is looking for Peter, and it doesn't give anything away by saying his memory will eventually return. This will cause an internal conflict in Peter and the inhabitants of Lawson, especially Adele. Screenwriter Michael Sloane (Hollywood Boulevard II) and director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) want to contrast the simple life of Lawson with the fast, superficial life of Hollywood. When confronted with a choice between the two, Peter must decide which is best for him. The Majestic is leisurely paced and deals with the same grand life decisions that Darabont seems to like to film, but the film comes off as sappy instead of sentimental. One gets the feeling that Sloane is trying so hard to get an emotional audience reaction that The Majestic has a fake feeling to it. Hollywood and Lawson are such polar opposites that they both seem manufactured to make the ending more poignant. Darabont does the same with the blacklist. Its presence serves mainly to provide a reason for the story. The way The Majestic deals with the topic is simplistic and a little too rosy.

Haro Rates It: Okay
2 hours, 32 minutes, Rated PG for language and thematic elements.

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