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"The Majestic"

Directed by Frank Darabont.
Written by Michael Sloane. 
Starring Jim Carrey.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  12/27/01 


Happy holidays...whatever those might be! 

So, in the quest to see 75 flicks total for the year, this is going to be a busy week.  So, expect to see a few more of these reviews before the year is out.  On Christmas Eve, I took in the new Jim Carrey flick "The Majestic."  Why?  Well, it was one of the two movies at the multiplex in Sun City, California that I hadn't seen yet...and, it was directed by Frank Darabont, who directed "The Shawshank Redemption", one of my favorites.

Carrey plays Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton, whose first decent movie is about to premiere as "The Majestic" opens sometime just after World War II has ended.  Soon after his film opens, he finds out that he is about to be blacklisted by his movie studio because he is possibly...a Communist!  Fearing that his just-burgeoning career is about to go bust, he spends a night boozing it up at a local bar and tries to drive home...only to careen off of a bridge, almost drown and bump his head so hard that he knocks himself unconscious.

Appleton wakes up remembering nothing, while suffering temporary amnesia and having no idea who he is.  What he does find out, after a stranger finds him on the coast near that bridge, is that he bears a striking resemblance to a lost war veteran named Luke that lived in the neighboring town.  Peter spends the rest of the film trying to regain his real identity, while filling the void left by this missing war veteran's memory.

Really, the movie is simpler than this, and you have to see it to know what I mean.  Once again, Darabont takes his time setting up the storyline, and the people, plus made-up California town Lawson, serve for an easygoing backdrop for the story.  Carrey is very good as the know-nothing Appleton, and good support is given from Oscar-winner Martin Landau ("Ed Wood") and the beautiful Laurie Holden as Luke's lost love.  And, much of the music is from a jazz band that plays songs throughout the film; the score and the Lawson sets are probably the biggest strengths of the film.

It gets a little preachy at the end, as Darabont deals with the fate of blacklisted screenwriters in post-WWII America.  But, this is a summer movie packaged for a Christmas audience.  I enjoyed this one a lot, and it helps to have a great appreciation for the movies; in some ways, this is like "Cinema Paradiso" in how "The Majestic" deals with the Carrey/Landau love of the movies.  And, if you keep your eyes open, you will recognize a relic from a movie released 20 years ago that Steven Spielberg lent to "The Majestic."  (He is even credited in the end credits.)  Very cool!

Rating:  $8.25 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09