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{February 9, 2010}   TRUMAN SHOW’S REVIEW

Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is the star of the most popular show in the history of television. For 10,909 days, it has been on the air, using 5000 cameras to show every moment in every day of the life of one man. The public loves it — there are Truman addicts who go to sleep with the TV on and who have sets installed in the bathroom so they don’t miss anything when they’re taking a bath. Every person in “The Truman Show” is an actor with one important exception: the main character himself. For, while everyone around Truman is playing a part, he is cheerfully ignorant about the truth. He thinks this is all real. One day, however, when a former member of the cast sneaks back onto the set with a warning for the star, Truman begins to suspect that appearances can be deceiving.

For those who complain Hollywood’s consistent lack of originality, The Truman Show is a welcome surprise. Over the years, there have been many satires about the power of television, but none has taken this route. Director Peter Weir, whose past credits include Witness, Dead Poets Society, and Fearless, has wed this cautionary tale about media strength with a surprisingly affecting drama about one man’s search for the meaning of life.

Paramount Pictures is clearly using The Truman Show as an example of summer counterprogramming. The movie opens up a scant two weeks after Godzilla and announces its intentions with the first line: “We’re tired of pyrotechnics and special effects…” More importantly, is Jim Carrey’s draw strong enough to pack theaters showing this movie, especially when his role here is light years away from the funny character he usually plays. It would be fair to call his performance both understated and effective. Exhibiting the charm and charisma of a Tom Hanks or even a young Jimmy Stewart, Carrey develops the sort of likable character that a movie of this sort needs to succeed. He is supported by a cast that includes Laura Linney as Truman’s TV wife, Natascha McElhone as his one true love, Noah Emmerich as his best friend, and Ed Harris as “God,” the TV program’s creator and director.

Narratively, the film is a little rough around the edges, as if a lot more was filmed than what shows up on-screen, but, although the flow may be off a little, it’s not difficult to follow what’s going on. Stylistically, The Truman Show uses an interesting approach – like interviews and lengthy excerpts from the program with “real life” footage of the director and behind-the-scenes people. Weir isn’t the first film maker to apply this technique, but he uses it to good effect, and it works well in the context of this movie. The Truman Show deserves high marks. Not everything in the film works, and the script isn’t perhaps as deep or incisive as it would like us to believe, but there’s enough here to mark The Truman Show as a worthwhile motion picture — an appealing, offbeat, one-hundred minute diversion for those who really are tired of monsters tearing down buildings and action heroes saving the world.

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