An insurance salesman named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is oblivious of the fact that his entire life is a television show and his family members are mere actors. As he starts noticing things and uncovers the truth, he attempts to escape.
Jim Carrey is undoubtedly one of the most beloved and well-recognized comedic actors of all-time. He rose to immense popularity with films such as Dumb and Dumber, The Mask, Liar Liar, amongst many others. It didn’t take long at all for Carrey to become a household name and for him to reach icon status throughout the years.
Although he is primarily known for his comedic performances, every once in awhile Carrey does tackle a more dramatic role to great effect. By watching his comedy films, you wouldn’t expect Carrey to be the type of actor that would be able to pull off a darker, more serious role. I thought the same thing about the late great Robin Williams. As a kid, I grew up watching his comedy roles and thought he was hilarious but was absolutely shocked when I saw Good Will Hunting and noticed that he was an equally brilliant dramatic actor, too.
While Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has to be my favorite Carrey film that also contains my performance of his overall, The Truman Show is a close second. In the role of the titular Truman Burbank, Carrey is delightfully funny but also emotionally strong whenever the role needs him to be.
Truman, at heart, is a kind-hearted, loving man who lives a fairly happy life. Numerous times throughout the film, we see him greeting his fellow townspeople of Seahaven Island with a big smile on his face and always going out of his way to be kind to others. Everybody else seems to love Truman as well. But soon enough, he starts to realize that certain people in Seahaven do the exact same thing every single day.
During one of the film’s standout scenes, Truman says to his wife Meryl (Laura Linney) that he knows exactly what is about to happen in the next couple of seconds, and, sure enough, whatever he said would happen, happens. He slowly starts to get suspicious of the world around him and is unsure of whether or not the life he is living is actually real or not.
For the first thirty minutes or so of The Truman Show, the film, surprisingly enough, plays out like an ordinary Jim Carrey comedy. Nothing too weird or outlandish happens for a little bit, but it’s later on when both you the viewer, and Truman, begin to realize that something is off with Truman’s life and the world he lives in. Both Truman and the viewer shortly uncover the fact that his entire life is a television show. It’s this exact moment where The Truman Show ascends from being an ordinary film to something truly unique and innovative.
The direction the story takes is mesmerizing to watch unfold and is filled with several genius concepts executed masterfully on screen. Every once in a while, the film cuts to people actually watching Truman’s life on their television screen and all of them are incredibly invested with what could potentially happen next. We also often see the control room where the television show crew members are stationed up, and whenever Truman tries to make an escape, they are always two steps ahead of him.
Watching Truman’s struggle to break free and finally live a normal life was exciting but also heartbreaking. He didn’t want his entire life to be broadcasted to millions of people all around the world, but he was given no choice. The broadcast station chose him to be the star of their next show at birth. It’s during Truman’s struggles and desperate attempts to escape this world where Carrey’s performance truly shines. As Truman, he is funny and happy, but also emotionally raw and grounded.
On top of the wonderfully creative and amazing story, the film is also just masterfully directed and boasts some of the best cinematography of any movie released in the 1990s. Truman Burbank can rest assured that, while his life may be tedious with the knowledge that it’s being broadcast on television, it’s well-directed, well-shot, and has an ending that feels so grand and earned.
The Truman Show is one of the most creative and brilliant films of all-time. Jim Carrey’s performance is lively as ever but full of emotion and raw strength, proving he can be a great dramatic actor as well in this Peter Weir-directed masterpiece.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements and mild language
Directed by: Peter Weir
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: June 5, 1998
Running Time: 103 minutes