Movie Review: Cable Guy

© 1997 Dan Heller

I went to this movie expecting the worst: just more silliness from Jim Carrey in an off-the-wall, senseless work with a thin enough plot to provide a backdrop for his zaniness. I came out of the movie a little confused about how to feel about it.

On the one hand, Jim does his zaniness stuff, pretty much as expected. The TV ads and the previews really play up the movie as him doing what he got paid $23M to do in this movie. In that vein, if you just HATE Jim Carrey -- and who can blame you if you do -- then this movie is not for you. But if you're anywhere else with him, well, you may or may not like it. Personally, I like the guy because his silliness is so unique, there's something to it that I just can't put my finger on.

But the movie has more depth than that, which was quite unexpected. The best part about this movie is that it walks a very thin line (frequently swirving on both sides of it) between dumb silliness and authenitcally frightening psychotic behavior. The plot is that Jim Carrey plays a cable guy who tries to befriend a new customer, but like in the movie Play Misty for Me (which is also featured in the film), his character gets progressively more psychotic and eventually goes over the edge. This part of the movie is done well, and what was even more surprising, it is done somewhat believably, all while Carrey maintains his zaniness. That feat in and of itself was remarkable.

Mathew Broderick does a reasonable job as the straight-man as well. His personality fits in quite well with Carrey's.

The worse part of the movie is that some of the minor supporting characters are a little too flat and seem to be there only to support Carrey's ridiculousness. Their interactions are unbelievable, and combined with a few rather obvious logic errors ("why don't they just do XYZ!?"), the movie loses some effectiveness that it could have otherwise retained. In retrospect, I wonder if the producers expected to do as well in its stronger areas, and if so, if they regretted some of the shallower moments.

There's a lot of little things in the movie worth commenting on, but it wouldn't contribute to this "review" in any way (other than to entertain you if you don't intend on seeing it). I don't expect it to get very good reviews -- Carrey's movies never do. And I also suspect it won't do as well as his earlier movies because it's not as straightforward slapstick as his other stuff. It's be easy to walk away from this and think it was a dumb movie, but those better moments keep sticking with me....
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