The Truman Show movie review, Peter Weir, Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Ed Harris. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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"The Truman Show"
3 stars
104 minutes | Rated: PG
WIDE: Friday, June 5, 1998
Directed by Peter Weir

Starring Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Ed Harris, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Paul Giamatti

This film is on the Best of 1998 list.

Read our interview with Peter Weir Director Peter Weir talks about making "The Truman Show."


Watching "The Truman Show" on TV only increases the ironic flavor of the story. Can't go wrong.
This DVD gets off to a agrivating start the second you put it in the player: You're forced to watch (or FF through) 6 trailers before you can get to the menu.

Once you get past that crap, it's still quite disappointing for a "Special Edition." The centerpiece of the DVD released in 2005 is an incredibly self-important, self-congratulatory making-of featurette - split into two parts for no explored reason. Eventually the thing settles down to talk about reality TV and giving "The Truman Show" an ironically idealistic bent instead of the straight-up dark version from Andrew Niccol's original script.

The parts that have to do with casting, production design and location scouting (e.g. the hoops they had to jump through to get that town to let them film there) go a long way toward redeeming the featurette. But the conspicuous absence of a commentary track or any new interviews with Jim Carrey (most of the cast is featured then and now) contribute to the lack of anything "special" in this release. And where are the in-character interviews director Peter Weir shot while making the film with Linney, Emmerich, etc.?

Trailers, deleted scenes, F/X featurette.

1.85:1, 5.1 or 2.0 Surround
Both remastered and high quality
DUBS: French
SUBS: English, Spanish


  • Reality TV
  • Peter Weir
  • Jim Carrey
  • Laura Linney
  • Ed Harris
  • Noah Emmerich
  • Natascha McElhone
  • Holland Taylor
  • Harry Shearer
  • Paul Giamatti

  •  LINKS for this film
    at Rotten Tomatoes
    at Internet Movie Database
    Carrey's breakthrough performance as the unwitting subject of 24/7 soap drives amazing 'Truman Show'

    By Rob Blackwelder

    Peel back our society's current addiction to "reality" television and the question arises, where would we draw the line?

    We watch ostensibly true-to-life shows like "Cops" and "The Real World" with glee. Seeing people's lives unravel on Jerry Springer seems to entertain some perverted subset of the population. But how much of this would we take before we would change the channel? Would we happily watch a man's entire life broadcast by hidden camera? What if he didn't know he was on TV? What if his life was a fiction, manipulated by some unseen director? Would the couch potato set tune in even for that?

    "The Truman Show" asks these questions, and it's a brilliantly disturbing and darkly funny movie because it hits so very close to home.

    Truman Burbank, played by a surprisingly astute and subtle Jim Carrey, is an honest, upstanding and innocent rube, unknowingly tucked into an idyllic, cobblestone world created just for him. Living in Seahaven, a sterile, sunny island hamlet, and married to a June Cleaver wife (Laura Linney), he's the kind of daydreamer who fantasizes about traveling to Fiji, but will likely never leave the assuring familiarity of his home town.

    What he doesn't know is that he's been conditioned to feel that way. His cozy coastal hearth actually exists inside the world's largest sound stage -- a 20-mile wide dome in the Hollywood Hills, complete with an artificial sun, moon and weather system. His wife, his mother, and indeed everyone he's ever met, are actors who have signed long-term contracts to abet the creation of Truman's surreal universe.

    The brainchild of Christof (Ed Harris), the unseen producer of the 24-hour-a-day broadcast that is "The Truman Show," Truman's life is a fiction. Born on TV and legally adopted by the show's parent company, he has been conditioned from childhood to never follow through on his ambitions. He's been shaped to settle for his oddly saccharine existence, and by witnessing the contrived drowning of his father when he was a child, he's been taught a consuming fear water to insure that he never ventures off the island.

    The "Truman Show" has been on the air live for 30 years, and everyone in Seahaven and the outside world knows it. Everyone except the star.

    This is a picture unique in American cinema. Conceived by Andrew Niccol, the writer-director of "Gattaca," "The Truman Show" shares that film's twisted, big brother-esque mood. But in this film the uncomfortable atmosphere is achieved not through darkness and steely facades, but though everything being just a little too colorful and perfect. This is "It's A Wonderful Life" through the eyes of Rod Serling.

    Director Peter Weir ("Dead Poets Society," "Fearless") skillfully engrosses us in Truman's world through Truman's eyes, while cutting away often to the control room (housed within the domed studio's moon) where we see just how fabricated his life really is. Vainglorious creator Christof regularly feeds lines to his actors through earpieces and cues his high-tech stagehands to bring up the fog and the soap operatic music during tender moments. Truman is set up for emotional blows by his family and friends, just to keep the ratings high.

    Both Truman's life-like sound stage environment and the all-too-realistic, addicted and indifferent population that watches him are deliberately and acutely distressing. But what the film thrives on is a powerful seed of hope and perseverance within Truman.

    As the movie opens, Truman is reluctantly beginning to suspect that something is amiss about the entire world. A stage light crashes into his yard from the sky. For just a moment his car radio picks up stage directions to the cast and crew readying for his arrival downtown. A prohibitive traffic jam forms out of nowhere when he musters the courage to venture off the island. But the idea that everyone in the world is conspiring against him is, quite naturally, a difficult concept for him to wrap his head around.

    Although it has whimsical moments, this film is funny only in the darkest way, and Jim Carrey seemed an odd choice for the lead. But it is his sincerely genial performance that gives this picture its heart. He deftly plays up the deceivingly cheery air of life in Seahaven while alluding to the film's underlying, disquieting tone by wearing Truman's apprehension on his sleeve. It was a bold casting choice that could send Carrey following in the footsteps of that other wacko-cum-dramatist, Robin Williams.

    The supporting players are just as strong, especially Linney ("Primal Fear"), whose pitiably soulless actress is trapped every bit as much as Truman, pretending to be his wife, under pressure from the producers to bear his child and having to cope with his increasingly erratic behavior as he starts to suspect her role in the conspiracy he sees around him.

    When Truman finally finds merit in his paranoia, he makes a harrowing attempt to escape from his fishbowl, leading to an intense psychological showdown between Truman's determination and Christof's god-like control over his realm.

    "The Truman Show" is not the kind of picture you would expect from a profit-minded Hollywood studio. It's certainly not the kind of picture you expect to see put up against asteroids and giant lizards in the middle of summer. But there is never a perfect time to release a film this daring and original, a film that leaves you stunned and debating its message as the credits roll. I've never seen anything like it.

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