Making the Grades
I SPENT THE first 45 minutes of this film waiting for Jim Carrey to....well....act like Jim Carrey. But even during a drunken despair, there's only a glimmer of the "wild and crazy" actor who bombards his way through movies like The Cable Guy, Liar Liar and The Grinch. Instead, Carrey puts in a solid performance as a 1950's screenwriter who is blacklisted when the US Senate tries to root Communists out of Hollywood.
After losing his girl, his movie script, and his filming privileges, Peter Appleton (Carrey) drowns his grievances in a bar and then heads out for a drive. A freak accident leaves both his car and identity washing downstream. When he awakens on the riverbank near Lawson, CA., he has no idea who he is or how he got there. His appearance in the sleepy little coastal town soon sets tongues a waggin'. Convinced that this is his missing son, Luke, an elderly Harry Trimble (Martin Landau) attacks life with a new vigor and makes plans to reopen the family's dilapidated old movie theater, The Majestic.
Although most of the residents are elated by the local war hero's homecoming, not everyone readily gives in to the fanfare. Both the local doctor (David Ogden Stiers) and his daughter, Adele (Laurie Holden) opt to reserve judgment on the real identity of the new arrival. Meanwhile, an often-bewildered Appleton struggles to find a single thread that will unravel the mystery of his past.
Language content in the film is a concern, but parents and teens may still profit from a glimpse at the Cold War hysteria that swept the U.S. following WWII. Also showcased is the contribution on the battlefront of one tiny town and the ensuing pain caused by the heavy casualty list. On a more personal level, The Majestic reveals one individual's struggle to stand up for himself before men with their own agendas.
While best known for his goofball gags and comedic hijinks, Carrey proves here there is more to his acting than raw humor and wacky face contortions.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Majestic (2001).
Although the town of Lawson received recognition for those who fought and died, they were reluctant to display the war memorial presented by the U.S. president. Why do you think they kept it in the basement of city hall? What changed when “Luke” came home? Do you think that war memorials are an important reminder to us of those who died?
Following World War II, the United States Senate held hearings performed by the House on Un-American Activities Committee. For more information on how those hearings affected the moviemakers of Hollywood, go to www.stud.hum.ku.dk/rikkebj/hu.htm