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The Majestic
The Majestic (Soundtrack)

The Majestic (Double Sided)
The Majestic (Double Sided)
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The Majestic Review

Directed By: Frank Darabont.
Starring: Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Laurie Holden, Bruce Campbell and Jeffrey DeMunn.

Frank Darabont loves movies. I mean, he loves them. Although he has only made three films so far in his career this fact constantly shines out. With his debut film, the stunning and forever brilliant Shawshank Redemption he stuck to the text of Stephen King and had Rita Hayworth in Gilda up on the silver screen once more. When it came time to do a follow up Darabont returned to prison and Steven King with The Green Mile and threw in the film Top Hat in a sweet scene that wasn't in the book.

Now Darabont essentially bombards us with his love of movies, and not only movies but also the folklore that surrounds them. He shows his love of movie history with a sub-plot of the HUAC and the blacklisting of Hollywood writers. He has Peter (Jim Carrey) re-open the local movie house with a speech from Martin Landau about the magic of the old time movie palace. They are still out there, those old time theatres, and for some reason I have to side with Landau/Darabont on this one even with their fading walls and chipped statues, perhaps even ripped seats there is something about walking into a huge one room house built solely for the reason of showing one singular movie. Maybe it's not magic, it might be nostalgia but I had the same feeling as a kid as if I might see something I never have before.

Darabont loves the movies too much here. He was blinded by his love for the material and while the story never unravels completely it never has that chance to soar like the music that accompanies each scene seems to think is occurring. It's not a bad movie; it just never quite makes it to being a good, or completely thought out one.

Jim Carrey plays Hollywood writer Peter Appleton and when we first meet him everything is going along so well. In fact, the opening scene, one of Jim Carrey for about three minutes is purely his quiet reactions to ideas being bandied abut by studio executives as they destroy his latest script offering. Hysterical and sadly, accurate in so many ways. However, it is also here that Darabont makes his first mis-step he has a narrative supplied Carrey that will only run the first few scenes a narrative of a man telling his story, though in a few short scenes Peter Appleton, after being accused of being a Commie becomes drunk and accidentally drives his car off a bridge, bangs his head on a concrete abutment and ends up with amnesia. So how, is this man supposed to be re-telling his tale when it just starts to happen? Point two, the narrative never returns revealing itself to be a sham device and not really integral to the movie.

Peter ends up in the small town of Lawson, and in this year 1951, it is a town that still mourns the loss of over 60 of their population to WW2. When Peter returns with amnesia it is Harry Trimble (Martin Landau) who makes the connection that this may be his long lost son Luke who went missing in France. So the movie plods along for awhile Peter becomes Luke, including falling in love with Luke's one time girlfriend Adele (a truly sweet performance by Laurie Holden) while a sub-plot of F.B.I. men are busy trying to track down the whereabouts of Peter Appleton.

I've used that word twice already. Sweet. That's really what it is. It's a hard movie to love but one that makes you feel guilty of hating everything that America stands for by disliking it.

Frank Darabont is already taking a bit of a basting on this flick for emulating another famous 'Frank' director. Frank Capra was a master of the come-uppance and feel good, rah-rah America films and rightly so. The Majestic is a throwback to the so-called kinder gentler era of films with almost no sex or violence to speak of (which is a good thing) but at 2 hours and 39 minutes someone has to step in and let an editor at Darabont's work. The themes were simple and the story was well conveyed before we had scene after scene of Carrey looking earnest and saying 'I don't know' in answer to every question about his past.

There are three things that stood out about Darabont's latest offering. One, his sense of humor. There is a film within the film supposedly written by Peter Appleton called The Sand Pirates of the Sahara, a real pre-Indiana Jones serial type movie. Darabont acknowledges this by having the evil Khalid use the golden idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark in the scene (including a great cameo by Bruce Campbell) all of which should play for some solid laughs within the film buff set.

Number 2? His eye for casting. A great group of actors surround Carrey in every scene not that Carrey is any slouch himself. From the always great Martin Landau to lesser known names like Bob Balaban, Jeffrey DeMunn (a great small role as the mayor), David Ogden Stiers (again playing a doctor!), Hal Holbrook, Amanda Detmer (a step up from Saving Silverman) and again, Laurie Holden.

Number three, it may have been a device to show the passing of time but it also serves as a nice side note to the blacklisting hunt of the 50's the movies The Majestic shows. The first film they show is An American In Paris followed by A Streetcar Named Desire (directed by Elia Kazan - who was the first to cooperate with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1952). It is then followed by The Day The Earth Stood Still, a cold war allegory film and finally Invasion of the Body Snatchers, another film that makes allusions to the witch-hunt that is occurring within the film.

Here endeth the Hollywood lesson from me. I hate to say this, because I wanted to like the film, scratch that, I wanted to love the film. But I was never given the chance so much was handed and for a man who complains that the 'story' is dead in Hollywood, Darabont seems to have forgotten what he is fighting about and decided to preach to the converted instead.

I hope it's not a trend but Darabont's scores are getting lower and lower with me from a five out of five for The Shawshank Redemption to this measly 2 out of 5 for The Majestic.

Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul

DVD Information:

Special Features:
Movie Within The Movie: Sand Pirates Of The Sahara - The Complete Sequence
Additional Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Cast/Crew Film Highlights
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1 (Anamorphic)
Audio: ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1

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