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THE MAJESTIC

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jim Carrey, Bob Balaban, Brent Briscoe, Jeffrey DeMunn, Amanda Detmer, Allen Garfield, Hal Holbrook, Laurie Holden, Martin Landau, Ron Rifkin, David Ogden Stiers, James Whitmore
Director: Frank Darabont
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 152 Minutes
Release Date: June 18, 2002

ďIíll tell you, in a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it.Ē

Film ****

In all the movies I experienced this past year, Frank Darabontís The Majestic is one film that stands out as the most heartwarming and spirited. The movie can be considered many things, but as noted in many criticsí reviews, this is a pure ode to the films of Frank Capra, and since many movies today donít exactly carry with them that distinct Capra feeling, a movie like The Majestic is certainly more than welcome. This is Darabontís first directorial effort of an original screenplay. His previous two, the masterful classics The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, were both adapted from stories by Stephen King. With The Majestic, Darabont demonstrates his powerful range, bringing a most uplifting and emotionally powerful story to life.

Set against the backdrop of Hollywood in the early 50s, Jim Carrey stars, in a magnificently realized performance, as Peter Appleton, a scriptwriter who lives for the sole purpose to make movies and entertain audiences. He wants Hollywood to be his town, just as everyone wants it. His career in tinsel town is soon ended when Appleton discovers he has been included on the infamous Hollywood Blacklist. Peter is not a politically concerned person, but he earned his place on the Blacklist simply for attending a left-wing political meeting just to meet a girl.

Depressed, confused, and slightly intoxicated, Peter decides to leave town and drive anywhere the road will take him. Heading up north, he tries to avoid an accident, but ends up driving his car off a bridge. Washed ashore the next morning, he is awoken by a stranger, who kindly takes him into a nearby town. Now, Peter is struck with a sudden case of amnesia. When awoken, he has no idea of who he is of how he got to where he is. However, everybody in the small town he enters into seems to recognize him. When elder Harry Tremble (Martin Landau), first sees the man, he is more than convinced of who the stranger is. Harry tells the stranger who he is, which is his son, Luke Tremble, who fought in World War II, and was lost for nine years.

Believed to be dead all this time, the town acknowledges this possibility, and immediately embraces Lukeís return. The town lost 60 men to the war, so this manís supposed return should spark some happiness in this depressed part of America. Lukeís presence has even inspired Harry, who once ran the local movie theater called The Majestic, to reopen the now broken down and dusty filled theater.

If you still donít believe that Jim Carrey can deliver a serious performance, his performance in The Majestic should, if anything, alter your current opinion. Watching the film, I was once again awestruck, just like I was in The Truman Show and Man on the Moon, scene by scene at the sharp conviction Carrey displayed in his performance, which might even surpass his work in Truman Show. You are more than likely to be blown away by the climatic moment when Carrey stands before congress declaring his innocence regarding the Blacklist involvement. Watching this film, I simply canít help but think that this is same zany comic actor who shot to superstardom through such acquired tastes as Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber. Every actor, no matter what genre heís known for, has a serious side of him or her always ready to emerge. Robin Williams delivered such a remarkable revelation in the current Insomnia, and Carrey delivers it here.

Amazingly, the movie got lost among last Decemberís big theatrical releases. Carrey remains one of the biggest stars in the world so it would seem that the film wouldíve been a huge hit just on that principle, but for every surefire blockbuster like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, there must be a picture or two that should suffer, and The Majestic was unfortunately, one film that suffered slightly. Itís always been this way in every big movie season, and The Majestic truly deserves a look at if you missed it in its theatrical run.

BONUS TRIVIA: Look closely, and youíll spot Bruce Campbell and Cliff Curtis as the dueling swordsman in the movie ďSand Pirates of the SaharaĒ, written by Carreyís character.

Video ****

Another striking image transfer from the folks at WB. The Majestic is a movie that has a nostalgic, magical look to it, as the movie beautifully captures the look of the 1950s. The sharpness and clarity of this video job is present throughout this presentation, with consistently clear images and beautiful and vibrant colors. Thereís one sequence on a lighthouse that is a moment of true visual beauty, and this DVD transfer enhances the beauty even more. A splendidly superb job.

Audio ***1/2

A more impressive audio sound than I expected. The Majestic is a dramatic piece built around mostly dialogue, but the music of the early 50s, which is mostly that of jazzy swing, is superbly captured and rendered for this presentation. Even the quiet moments of the film deliver on a most superb level. The dialogue is delivered on an A+ level. A most pleasant surprise in the field of audio quality.

Features **1/2

While not at the level of recent Warner releases like Oceanís Eleven and Training Day, this disc includes some acceptable adequate extras. Included are some additional scenes, the complete sequence from the movie within the movie Sand Pirates of the Sahara, a trailer and cast & director highlights.

Summary:

I give The Majestic much deserved credit for being the kind of spirited movie they just donít make anymore. This is a remarkable achievement on all accounts, and it is a pure revelation, once again, of the remarkable acting range of Jim Carrey.