[Screen It]


(2001) (Jim Carrey, Martin Landau) (PG)

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

Drama: A blacklisted screenwriter washes up on the shores of a small town with amnesia and buoys the residents' spirits, as they believe him to be one of their own sons, lost for nearly a decade after WWII.
It's 1951 and Pete Appleton (JIM CARREY) is a Hollywood screenwriter whose script for "Sand Pirates of the Sahara" has just been turned into a movie starring his girlfriend, Sandra Sinclair (AMANDA DETMER). Pete's joy, however, quickly evaporates when he's accused of being a communist due to a club he belonged to years ago while in college.

Before he has a chance to defend himself, Sandra dumps him, his second feature is pulled from production, and he finds himself somewhat drunkenly driving up the coast in reaction to the turn of events. Things get worse when he drives off a bridge, lands in a river and is knocked unconscious.

Pete ends up washing up on the shores just outside the small town of Lawson, California where he's discovered by Stan Keller (JAMES WHITMORE), an elderly resident who takes him to see Doc Stanton (DAVID OGDEN STIERS) who diagnoses the young man as having amnesia.

After various people state that he looks quite familiar, it's Harry Trimble (MARTIN LANDAU), the owner of the now dark Majestic movie theater, who thinks he's identified the mystery man as his long lost son Luke who was listed missing in action during WWII nearly a decade ago.

In his confused condition, Pete can neither confirm nor deny that claim, but most everyone in town accepts that he's Luke. That is, except for Bob Leffert (KARL BURY), a WWII vet who went off to war with Luke and is suspicious of Pete, and Adele Stanton (LAURIE HOLDEN), the doc's aspiring lawyer daughter who was previously romantically involved with Luke.

Nevertheless, Pete's presence as Luke soon buoys the small town's spirits due to them losing so many boys in the war. Accordingly, Harry decides to reopen The Majestic. With Pete's help, as well as that of head usher Emmett Smith (GERRY BLACK) and Irene Terwilliger (SUSAN WILLIS), the candy counter lady, the theater starts showing movies again, much to the delight of Mayor Ernie Cole (JEFFERY DeMUNN) and Sheriff Cecil Coleman (BRENT BRISCOE).

Yet, as everyone tries to get Pete to remember his past, including Adele who starts to have feelings for him again, a menace looms in the distant background. Suspicious of Pete's sudden disappearance, Congressman Doyle (HAL HOLBROOK) and Majority Counsel Elvin Clyde (BOB BALABAN) want him found so that can testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee about his past involvement with communism. From that point on, Pete tries to remember who he really is and what he stands for as the congressional pressure soon threatens the idyllic life in which he's now suddenly found himself living.

If they're fans of someone in the cast or are interested in seeing the director's follow-up to "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile," they just might.
For language and mild thematic elements.
  • JIM CARREY plays a Hollywood screenwriter who finds himself accused of being a communist. After a night of drinking, he's involved in an accident that results in him washing up in a small town with no idea where or who he is. He briefly uses profanity.
  • MARTIN LANDAU plays a town resident who believes him to be his long lost son and is thus joyful about his return.
  • LAURIE HOLDEN plays the missing man's former girlfriend who's not sure if Pete is the real thing, but finds herself falling for him anyway.
  • DAVID OGDEN STIERS plays her father and the town's doctor who worries what might happen should Pete not be Luke and then remember who he really is.
  • JAMES WHITMORE plays the old man who first finds Pete. He smokes his pipe several times.
  • HAL HOLBROOK plays a congressman involved in the HUAC hearings and BOB BALABAN plays the Majority Counsel who collectively grill Pete about his past.
  • GERRY BLACK plays the older head usher at the Majestic who befriends Pete/Luke and takes pride in his work.
  • SUSAN WILLIS plays the candy lady at the theater.
  • KARL BURY plays a vet who went off to war with Luke, lost his hand during it, and then returned only to be suspicious and unhappy about Pete's arrival.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Here's a quick look at the content found in this drama that's been rated PG. Profanity consists of at least 2 "s" words, while various other expletives and some colorful phrases are also uttered, as is a brief, sexually related bit of dialogue.

    McCarthy-like hearings about communism show Congressman and others with bad attitudes for attempting to frame and/or implicate innocent people with little or no evidence, while a few other bad attitudes are also present. A car accident involving a car hanging from a bridge and then falling into a river, resulting in the driver being knocked out, as well as an unrelated heart attack, might be a tad suspenseful or unsettling for some viewers.

    Some movie within movie violence includes an old style sword fight with a death by non-graphic impalement, another movie within a movie that involves a soldier shooting a robotic figure with his handgun (also with no blood/gore), while a person punches another person in the main story. Meanwhile, one man smokes a pipe several times, while the protagonist drinks shots of liquor and then drives off, somewhat intoxicated.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to examine our detailed listings more closely for more detailed content information.

  • Pete has a few shots of liquor (that we see) and the bartender tells him he's probably had enough. He then drives after drinking (even after the bartender questions him doing so in his condition).
  • We see some dried blood and a cut on Pete's head.
  • Bob punches Pete in the face, knocking him to the ground and slightly bloodying his lip.
  • A person refers to a woman (who's not there) as a "skirt," while another calls a woman a "gal."
  • Those involved in the McCarthy-like hearings obviously have both for accusing people of being Communists and/or trying to get them to implicate others, innocent or not.
  • Bob has a bad attitude toward Pete/Luke, even going to the point of saying he hasn't had to kill anyone since the war (said as a threat).
  • Trying to avoid hitting a possum on a bridge, Pete swerves to miss it, but smashes through part of the siding, leaving his convertible hanging over the edge. It then starts to rain as he tries to back up the car, but the tires slide and the car ends up falling off the bridge, landing convertible side up in the river. It then sinks and Pete struggles to get out of his coat that's stuck in the door. He eventually gets out, but is swept into a bridge abutment, knocking him out and cutting his head.
  • An older character collapses while having a heart attack.
  • Swords: Used in a swordfight (and by one character to kill another by impaling him) in a movie within the movie.
  • Rifles/Handguns: Seen in a clip from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and used (the handgun) to shoot a robotic figure.
  • Phrases: "Oh, sh*t," "Horny," "Holy crap," "How the hell should I know?" "Skirt" and "Gal" (woman), "What in the hell happened to you?" "Schmuck," "Where the hell have you been?" "Little turd," "Shut the hell up" and "I just told those guys to go screw themselves."
  • None.
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 2 "s" words, 9 damns, 9 hells, 2 craps, 7 uses of "God," 6 of "Oh my God," 3 of "G-damn," 2 of "Jesus" and 1 use each of "Christ," "For God's sakes" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • When asked why he attended communist meetings in college, Pete says it was because he was interested in a girl who went to them and that he was "a horny young man."
  • Stan smokes his pipe several times, while a flashback and some archival footage show some people smoking cigarettes.
  • A man must deal with a parent dying and then being dead (with a brief funeral scene), but there's little time for grieving (due to other unrelated developments).
  • Amnesia.
  • Towns that suffered huge losses during wars.
  • People with prosthetics (a character here has a replacement arm with hooks).
  • Pete's comment that people are usually mowed down if they stand up for something.
  • The McCarthy hearings about Communism.
  • Running a movie theater.
  • In a movie within the movie, some characters briefly fight with swords (in a very old style way).
  • Pete's car falls off a bridge, but after he frees himself as it sinks under water, the river slams him into a bridge abutment, knocking him out and cutting his head.
  • Bob punches Pete in the face, knocking him to the ground and slightly bloodying his lip.
  • In a scene from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (that shows at the theater), a solider shoots a robotic figure (in a 1950s style fashion) with a handgun (with no blood/gore). In another clip from the earlier movie within a movie, there's more sword fighting that follows a character striking another over the head with a small stone figure. The hero eventually stabs the villain in the gut with a sword, resulting in a mortal wound (but no blood/gore).

  • Reviewed December 14, 2001 / Posted December 21, 2001

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