[Screen It]


(1998) (Jim Carrey, Ed Harris) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild None *Mild Mild None
Mild None Mild None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor None Mild Mild Minor

Drama/Comedy: A man slowly begins to realize that his idyllic life is really the subject of a live, around the clock TV show and that everyone he knows is just an actor playing a part in it.
Truman Burbank is a happy, carefree insurance salesman who lives in the idyllic coastal town of Seahaven. He's married to Meryl (LAURA LINNEY), a beautiful nurse, and loves to hang out with his best friend, Marlon (NOAH EMMERICH), when not spending time with his mother (HOLLAND TAYLOR).

Despite his complacent happiness, however, Truman has never forgotten Lauren (NATASCHA McELHONE), a young woman from his past with whom he was smitten and who tried to warn him about his life. Time has erased any worries about that, but when he begins to notice peculiar occurrences -- especially ones that repeat every day -- Truman begins to get suspicious that something strange is going on. That begins to worry Christof (ED HARRIS), the creator and producer of "The Truman Show," the most popular TV show in the world that has continually broadcast every aspect of Truman's life around the clock since the day he was born.

Everyone Truman knows is an actor playing a part, and Christof's complete control of Truman's life ensures that the audience will continue watching. As Truman becomes more suspicious of what's really occurring, Christof must pull out all the stops as he tries to prevent his prized star from discovering the truth.

If they're Jim Carrey fans ("Ace Ventura," "Dumb & Dumber," "Liar, Liar"), they probably will, but they should know in advance that this isn't a typical "goofy" Jim Carrey movie (although they may still like it).
For thematic elements and mild language.
  • JIM CARREY plays an unassuming, happy man who suddenly begins to suspect something strange is going on concerning his life.
  • ED HARRIS plays the producer of "The Truman Show" who has kept Truman "caged" in his hometown his whole life for high ratings and a hefty income.
  • LAURA LINNEY plays an actress playing Truman's wife who doesn't ever tell him the truth and leads him along in the lie.
  • NOAH EMMERICH plays an actor playing Truman's best friend who likewise does the same.


    OUR TAKE: 8.5 out of 10
    One of the most talented but lesser known directors working today is Australian auteur, Peter Weir. While he's well respected inside Hollywood and has received several Oscar nominations for his work, few moviegoers could identify him like they can Spielberg or Scorsese. Yet, if you mention his films that include "Gallipoli," "The Year of Living Dangerously," "Witness," and "Dead Poets Society," people will respond with an affirmative nod and cumulatively recognize that Weir is an extremely talented filmmaker.

    His latest release, "The Truman Show," further cements that status. If you can imagine a Jimmy Stewart-like character stepping into a funny, but still bizarre "Twilight Zone" episode, you'll begin to get a mental picture of this most unique film. Clearly one of the most clever movies to be released in some time, this is also a break through for comic actor Jim Carrey.

    Now, we're not talking a Robin Williams type of performance, and serious award nominations are a long shot at best. Nonetheless, this is easily Carrey's strongest performance of his career. His diehard fans who've grown to love him for his goofy roles in films such as "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and "Dumb and Dumber," though, need not worry. Some of those goofy elements are still present. However, the film's humor is much more sophisticated than in any of his previous films and yet still manages to be quite funny.

    Working from Andrew Niccol's (the writer/director of "Gattaca") script, Weir not only delivers some big, crowd pleasing laughs, but also equal amounts of more subtle humor as well. Since all of Truman's life is televised live (itself an extremely sharpened jab at today's "reality" shows and news media that tend to cover and over emphasize even the most mundane subjects), the show needs to make money, so advertisements are located throughout Truman's world. Every day two men corner him next to a wall displaying a large ad, while his wife occasionally demonstrates -- like a seasoned "sponsor" -- the latest product she's purchased. In today's moviemaking market where corporations commonly pay moviemakers to place their products in a given film, this is perhaps the most brilliant piece of satire in the picture.

    Then again, the painstaking attempts to which the fictitious producers and cast go while trying to keep Truman on the fictitious island are outrageously funny as well. As a child, Truman states that he wants to be a great explorer like Magellan. His teacher, however, is quick to point out that he's too late as everything's already been discovered. Likewise, Truman's later visit with a travel agent is hilarious -- make sure you watch for the posters and signs on the office walls warning of what may happen should you leave Seahaven's safety.

    Those are just a few of the many delightful moments, and even more continue with the reactions of the performers -- all playing Truman's family, friends and neighbors -- to his sudden and now unpredictable nature. To mention more would spoil the fun that's to be had, but rest assured, there's plenty here to enjoy.

    Of course, the film's success rests on the shoulders of that rubbery faced comic who is perhaps best known for imitating the famous Tarzan yell from another certain part of his anatomy. While there is a brief, but funny shot of his protruding behind, there's little else of Carrey's normal sophomoric humor. Instead, he's toned down that routine but still allowed his winning charm and charisma to ooze through, and the result is quite pleasing. People who normally can't stand his acting and the characters he often plays will probably like this more understated performance, and his fans won't be disappointed by the "new" Jim.

    The other performances are quite good, but the characters are nowhere as developed as Carrey's (which is to be expected since most are playing actors playing other characters). The exception is the always wonderful Ed Harris ("Apollo 13," "The Rock") who replaced Dennis Hopper after the first day of shooting and is quite effective as the show's creator. It would have been nice, however, had we learned just a little more about his character to keep him from being perhaps a little too enigmatic. An in-movie TV interview helps and we see that Christof obviously has a father complex toward Truman that occasionally surfaces. Personally, I would have liked just a bit more inner conflict concerning that fathering instinct versus show business, but Harris still manages to convincingly underplay those moments.

    Laura Linney ("Absolute Power," "Primal Fear") is good as the actress playing the Donna Reed caricature of a wife who desperately tries to ad lib during Truman's volatile moments, and Noah Emmerich ("Beautiful Girls," "Copland") is likewise enjoyable as Truman's buddy who always shows up with a six-pack of beer. The best moments -- that are unfortunately too brief -- are when Carrey interacts with Natascha McElhone ("The Devil's Own," "Mrs. Dalloway") as we can't help but notice that their characters are obviously meant to be together. When "Lauren" tries to warn him about the realities of his life, however, she's whisked away to the story's sidelines, much to the audience's dismay.

    Even so, the film is quite good and should make most critics and moviegoers' top ten lists for 1998. With a great performance by Carrey, a superbly witty screenplay from Niccol, and another fabulous directorial effort from Weir -- who manages to perfectly balance big laughs with more subtle humor and a few touching moments -- "The Truman Show" is a cinematic treat as tasty as anything you'll find at the concession stand. We give it an 8.5 out of 10.

    Beyond some brief profanity and thematic elements (a flashback of Truman seeing his father drown, the twilight zone aspect of the story, and the mildly suspenseful finale), there's nothing else present that most would find objectionable. Even so -- and particularly since many kids will want to see it -- you may want to take a quick look through the content.

  • Truman and Marlon occasionally drink beer while contemplating life, and Marlon always shows up at Truman's house with a six-pack of beer.
  • People in a bar watching The Truman Show drink beer, wine and cocktails.
  • Two elderly women watching the show have wine in front of them.
  • None.
  • Obviously, viewers will have different opinions on the severity of the following bad attitudes.
  • Everyone involved in the show (the cast and crew) essentially has both as they've raised Truman and kept him captive in a fake, TV show world. That especially holds true for Christof who, despite his odd father-like attraction to Truman, pushes him to the extreme not for his own good (like a real father would), but to try to keep him under his control to keep the TV show running (and nearly -- but remotely -- kills him in the process in one scene).
  • Although it's staged, we see a flashback to when Truman tried to help his father, but then had to watch him drown off their boat during a violent storm (this may be unsettling or scary to very young kids). Likewise, moments where suspenseful music plays (Truman trying to drive over a bridge, then through a wall of fire, etc...) might affect the youngest of kids, but hardly anyone else.
  • Truman goes through another tremendous storm at sea while in a sailboat and nearly drowns (this continues for several minutes that again will probably be tense to very young viewers).
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Loser" and "Shut up."
  • Truman and Marlon hit golf balls off a tee in the middle of a highway at night (that turns out to be on an unfinished bridge).
  • Marlon playfully punches Truman on the shoulder as he leaves.
  • Truman accelerates around and around a traffic circle (trying to make Meryl talk) and then goes through stop signs and speeds (forwards and backwards) as he tries to get away from other traffic.
  • Marlon jokingly comments to Truman that the only way they made it through school was by cheating off each other's papers (we don't see any of that).
  • None.
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music occurs in several scenes during the movie.
  • None.
  • At least 2 "s" words (with another possible one), 4 hells, 3 damns, 2 asses, 1 S.O.B., and 2 uses each of "Jesus" and "Oh my God" and 1 use of "G-damn" as exclamations.
  • Meryl shows just a bit of cleavage in her nightgown.
  • We see Truman's bare butt (as a toddler on the beach).
  • None.
  • Although it's staged, we see a flashback to when Truman tried to help his father, but then had to watch him drown off their boat during a violent storm. Years later, Truman believes that he sees his father alive and this haunts him for some time.
  • The subjects that they satirize here: The omnipresent press/TV coverage of even the most mundane stories and the obvious and sometimes not so obvious product placements (advertising) in movies and other popular media.
  • The fact that Christof explains as "We accept the reality of the world in which we are presented" and the argument he makes that Truman's life in Seahaven is far better than what he'd face in the real world.
  • Although it's staged, we see a flashback to when Truman tried to help his father, but then had to watch him drown off their boat during a violent storm.
  • Truman accidentally knocks over some people on the sidewalk while racing after a man he believes is his father.
  • Some guards forcibly remove Truman from a building when he accidentally sees part of "the set." Truman than whacks a man on a ladder with his briefcase just to see if it elicits any sort of reaction.
  • Truman knocks some men down as he tries to run away from actors dressed in nuclear radiation suits.

  • Reviewed May 27, 1998

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