I know Frank Capra's work (IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE), and no matter how hard he
tries in THE MAJESTIC, Frank Darabont (THE GREEN MILE) is no Frank Capra. Not
even close. Never able to create genuine characters that you care about,
Darabont takes what is designed to be a weeper and turns it into an emotionally
In his worst performance ever, Jim Carrey stars as Peter Appleton, a B-movie
writer who is dating a B-movie actress. They have just wrapped up their latest
film, SAND PIRATES OF THE SAHARA. Peter's work may not be headliner material,
but the income is enough for him to live the Hollywood high life. Carrey, who
might ironically get his first Oscar nomination for this schmaltzy sort of role
that the Academy loves, has been brilliant in films from THE MASK to THE TRUMAN
SHOW. But, in THE MAJESTIC, he has only two expressions, mildly happy and
It's the 1950s, and there's a Communist witch hunt underway. Peter is
incorrectly put on a blacklist, but before he can clear his name, an accident
occurs which produces amnesia. After the tragedy, he ends up in a small town,
where he is taken to be a war hero named Luke Trimble, the son of Harry Trimble
(Martin Landau), the owner of the derelict Majestic theater. Peter, as the son
who has been gone for nine-and-one-half years, manages to pass the few tests he
is given, so everybody assumes that he must actually be Luke. It's too bad that
Michael Sloane's screenplay didn't place some doubts in our mind rather than
spelling it out who he was. Why not start the story after the accident and let
us wonder about his identity?
"Do you remember me?" Adele Stanton (Laurie Holden), Luke's ex-girlfriend, asks
the man she hopes is Luke. "No, but I'll sure try," Peter, who thinks he might
be Luke, responds earnestly. The worst of the casting is of exceedingly bland
Laurie Holden as the female lead.
Luke, as the once dead war hero, becomes the toast of the town. Violins play
long slow notes in the background as he saunters around town. "You standup for
a cause," Luke says, in one of his many clichéd lines, while in a military
cemetery with a field of crosses. "You get mowed down." Cue the violins
The film appears to move at half-speed, making its two-and-one-half hour running
time seem especially long. Actually, it would be something of a misnomer to say
that this movie has a running time, since it just crawls.
The tearjerker ending tries and fails miserably to be stirring and patriotic.
THE LAST CASTLE pulled it off marvelously, but THE MAJESTIC's ending is awkward
and stagy. There is a glut of films this Christmas season, and only a few of
them are worth your hard earned dollars. This isn't one.
THE MAJESTIC runs a long 2:30. It is rated PG for "language and mild thematic
elements" and is acceptable for all ages, although most kids will likely be
My son Jeffrey, age 12, didn't like the movie and gave it * 1/2. He said that
he didn't care about any of the characters and that the movie dragged on and
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes