The Majestic

By Mark Ramsey | 2001/12/30

Like Gilligan on the Island, The Majestic means well. But how do you set sail if your boat’s full of holes?

Jim Carrey is a B-movie screenwriter on the run from that scourge of 50′s Hollywood Communism, the House Un-American Activities Committee. Their goal: Get the Reds out of Hollywood – “We’re the Visine of the Entertainment industry,” exclaimed Senator Joe McCarthy as he momentarily pulled his head out of his ass.


Anyone who teaches his butt to talk can talk sense into the butt-heads perched atop HUAC. Jim effortlessly lectures them into acquiescence and quickly returns to his screenwriting gig. In real life, of course, nobody testifying got a chance to lecture anybody before the gavel came down and they were tossed off their soapbox. In real life, of course, those fingered who didn’t name names mostly lost their careers altogether. But why let unpleasant facts of history clutter a fairy tale of manhood and identity so quaint, the Congressmen should wear wings, Jim should live in a big shoe, and Seven Dwarfs should receive story credit?

I’m all for syrupy if the sweetness packs some punch, but in The Majestic it mostly leaves you punch-drunk. Even the late screenwriter and member of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten, Dalton Trumbo, was heard rolling over in his grave after screening The Majestic, although Trumbo’s close friends maintain he was just reaching for another bottle of Scotch and a pack of smokes.

So Carrey crashes into a river, loses his memory, and wakes up in a town that mistakes him for Martin Landau’s war hero son – a town is in dire need of an optometrist, if you ask me.

Here in Mayberry-West, they’re over-quota on front stoops and rocking chairs. The Future Farmers of America are plotting the future of farming, Gay people are safely tucked into their closets, George Bailey’s busy lassoing storks, and there’s not a warped, frustrated old man as far as the kind-hearted eye can see.

It’s only a matter of time before this Mr. Good-Deeds goes to town.

Say, did Jim wash way, way downstream? Because a casual inspection suggests he found the one California town yet to be discovered by Hispanics and more than one Black guy. Welcome to Whiteytown!

majestic_couple.jpgNow that their presumed war hero has returned a big celebration is in store, and Whiteytown rolls out the red carpet, albeit an excruciatingly Whitey shade of red. In one town square you’ll find more White folk than you can shake a stick at, not that I advocate shaking any sticks at White folk.

Jim Carrey is fond of crusty old coot and King of the Whiteys, James Whiteymore, er, Whitmore. Whit’s a fine actor, but his gargantuan eyebrows are massing on the border between his nose and hair – they’re not trimmed they’re slashed and burned by indigenous peoples. Whit, where do you turn for grooming tips, Planet of the Apes? During one heartwarming scene of patriotic reverence, Whit’s mammoth brow is undulating like amber waves of grain from ear to shining ear. Easy on the Miracle-Gro, Chia-man!

And lets not forget the broken down old movie house after which this flick is named. Thanks to Jim, it undergoes a complete renovation in in the time it takes you to renovate your hair. It could have been fixed up faster if not for the frequent ballroom dancing breaks and the extra minutes needed to shovel heaping piles of schmaltz.

When the theater opens, the whole town turns out. This can mean only two things: 1) It’s a big event! 2) The Klan cleared its calendar. Look at all those White people! What’s playing, a Cate Blanchett festival?

Jim falls for a girl so fine, “she charms the fish right out of the river,” according to her dad. The fact that fish die when they are charmed in this way evidently escaped Papa’s notice.

Folks call this movie “Capra-esque” which must be a reference to Morty Capra, not filmmaking great Frank Capra. Hey, if your Last Supper is paint-by-numbers, that doesn’t make you DaVinci, pal.

The Majestic is the feel-gooey movie of the year.

Photos Copyright ©2001 Warner Brothers


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