Classic Movie Review: The Truman Show (1998)

Posted: July 5, 2013 in Comedy
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the truman show

Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is an insurance agent on Seahaven Island.  He is married to a nurse named Meryl (Laura Linney) an leads an unremarkable life.  He gets up, he says hi to the neighbors, and goes to work.  Truman hasn’t seen his father (Brian Delate)  since a boating accident, and has been afraid to go back on the water ever since, but Truman thinks he sees his father as a homeless man on the street one day.  When Truman tries to talk to his father, his dad is hustled away from him by police. Puzzled by the series of events, he thinks back to a girl he knew in college, named Lauren, (Natascha McElhone) who takes Truman for a walk on the beach and tells him something very startling, but then Lauren’s  father appears on the same beach and tells Truman that Lauren’s crazy, and that they are taking her away and moving to Fiji.  As he remembers his old college crush Truman realizes that things aren’t quite as they seem in Seahaven, he hears audio from his car radio that seems to describe his every turn in the car.  When Truman deviates from his usual route to work and tries to get on an elevator, the elevator doesn’t look real.  Despite assurances from Meryl and his best friend Marlon (Noah Emmerich ) and a reunion with his long lost father, Truman feels increasingly like he needs to get off Seahaven Island.  Does he get off the island; does he find the answers he’s looking for?

This is an excellent satire of television and a certain genre of tv show, popular in the 90’s, less prevalent today but still a part of the tv landscape.  This movie asks the very pertinent question, how far would a show go to get big ratings?  The answer, according to this movie, is very far indeed.  And that is what makes this movie so interesting and still relevant today, because we know that some tv exec somewhere is being pitched an idea for a tv show that breaks the bounds of good taste.  The second pertinent question is, where are the moral compasses of the people of Seahaven?  Are they all broken?  Wil they not share what they know about Seahaven with the only person who does not know the truth about the town?

The acting is great, Jim Carrey does what few comedic actors can do, he does a serious turn in a satirical movie.  Gone for the most part are the silly faces, gone entirely is the slapstick humor that was Carrey’s trademark.  He did do a strange turn in a strange movie called the Cable Guy, but in The Truman Show he uses all his skills to excellent effect. He did another semi-serious role in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but he hasn’t done a movie like this since.   In the Truman Show, He is a guy with a ‘normal’ life, whose moorings are slowly being taken away from him.  He has fun with the role, but he knows there is a serious point being made, and he handles the humorous aspect of the role with equal aplomb.  Laura Linney plays Meryl with a kind of frenetic, nervous energy of a criminal about to be caught.  Ed Harris plays a man with a God complex and does a really good job with it. Harry Shearer is very funny in a small role.  Writer Andrew Niccol writes a nearly flawless satire of a genre that deserves satire in the worst way.

The Truman Show.  Give ‘em Hell, Truman.


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