The Majestic


Directed by: Frank Darabont
Written by:Michael Sloane
Starring: Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Laurie Holden, Allen Garfield, Amanda Detmer
Released: May 16, 2002
Grade: C

Statistics do this film the most justice.  Prior to making it, director Frank Darabont had made two films - The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.  Both were nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.  Signing Jim Carrey in the leading role for The Majestic, one would expect even more big things.

Castle Rock Studios chose to release the film in Australia on the same day as Attack Of The Clones.  To me, that is admitting defeat before even beginning.  In the first seven days of release, Clones made $14.7m compared with The Majestic’s $0.31m.  Now I’m not saying the film is bigger than Star Wars but Darabont’s reputation should have seen the film debut higher than 8th on the Aussie charts.

If you catch my drift, the film stinks.  It’s a crazy fairy tale with seemingly no moral.  Carrey plays Peter Appleton, a screenwriter living in L.A. during the early 1950s who has been blacklisted after being falsely linked to a communist club.  His latest film, which is set to go into production, is scraped and he asked to appear at a government hearing to clear his name.

Trying to escape his problems, his car falls into a river and he wakes up on a beach with no memory of his life before the accident.  Found by an elderly gentlemen, he is escorted to the nearest town where the most ridiculous game of mistaken identity takes place.  Everyone in the town believes Peter to be Luke Trimble, a war hero believed to be long dead.  He of course has no memory and so goes along with this new life only to have memories of his true past return...

The performances are sterile and useless.  The whole cast act as if they have a gun to their back and are being told to read every line word-for-word with zero improvisation.  The dialogue is laughable and anyone who has seen the brilliant comedy Pleasantville will appreciate The Majestic’s ugliness at an even higher level.  There isn’t a single cast member who deserves a mention.

There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the director although it is standard and I did expect more.  It is the hopeless screenplay that gave the film no chance.  I think the film is trying to say something about freedom of speech.  I think it’s also saying something about the power and “magic” of movies.  I can’t be really sure though because it’s much a mismatch of themes and the monotonous predictability left no excitement or enjoyment on my solemn face.

Anything but what the title will lead you to believe, this shocker never deserved release and should never have been made in the first place.