The Truman Show (1998)

Surprisingly, MTV hasn’t tried this yet. Probably will after Jersey Shore starts to become repetitive. Oh wait…

‘The Truman Show’ chronicles the life of a man named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) who is initially unaware that he is living in a constructed reality television show, broadcast around the clock to billions of people across the globe. Truman becomes suspicious of his perceived reality and embarks on a quest to discover the truth about his life.

In today’s day and age where everybody is constantly on Twitter tweeting about what they had for din-din, on Facebook posting pictures of them and their bong sesh the night before, or on YouTube uploading videos on themselves singing R&B songs by Mariah Carey, it’s easy to see why you would sometimes feel like you’re life is all one big TV show. However, life isn’t that cool and unique after all.

High Concept movies are usually hit-and-miss and rarely ever do they hit as well as the concept here. Writer Andrew Niccol takes gives everything he can into this concept where Truman in his own little world, and where everything is one big show, one big block of advertising, and most of all, one big piece of reality TV. There’s obviously a lot of satire to be had here where Niccol brings up the point about how our nation, is a nation that is consumed by watching other people’s live and needing to know everything that goes on in his/her private lives. It’s definitely a theme that gets better and better as the years go on by considering we have so many things in today’s world that take more and more away from our privacy. But it’s not all about the obvious satire, and that’s where the real beauty of this film lies.

Director Peter Weir did a perfect job here as a director because he immerses us into this world where Truman lives. We see everything that goes on in his “fake” world, then to the people who make this world for him, and then to what’s going on behind closed doors and how they are all filming everything the way they are. It definitely seems like a concept that would be a little too far-fetched but somehow Weir was able to pack all of these things in here that gets you more and more involved with this story as if you are, hey, watching a life play out in front of your own eyes. That’s right people, I’m talking about something that sounds exactly reality TV. Oh em gee! As you see Truman start to peel away the layers of his life to realize that something eerie is going on, you start to root for him and can only hope that he eventually does find out that it’s all one big show, and that he was the main star. This plot may have never been able to work, had it taken place in real life, but the way he realizes everything, hint by hint, not only makes the film seem plausible but feel like it’s actually happening right then and there.

It’s a real surprise how a plot like this actually came together so damn well in the end, but I guess when you put two heads like Niccol and Weir together, miracles can happen.

My only problem with this flick was that I sort of felt like the ending was a bit too abrupt. All of this build-up is leading and leading up to the finale of where Truman finally finds out about the world outside of his own, but even when it does happen, it’s sort of a let-down. Actually, I don’t want to say that it’s a let-down because I think it was actually handled very well in fact, it was just that it all happens so quick and I would have liked to see more of what actually happened after the ending went down. I know I sound very vague but that’s because, believe it or not, I don’t really want to give too much away here.

Ever since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind came out, people really started to take notice that Jim Carrey could play a more serious role than we usually see, but this was the real film that let us know that this guy had more than just a bunch of goofy faces. Carrey is amazing as Burbank because he makes this character so damn likable and believable that it’s easy to see why someone would want to center a TV show around him in the first place. In front of everybody, he’s hamming it up to the neighbors and going through the same routines day-in and day-out, but behind the closed doors, he continues to lose his shit as he realizes that something is a little too freaky underneath it all and you really do want him to find out everything at once and just get the hell out of there. Carrey totally throws himself into this role showing a lot of dramatic range as an actor, but also showing the things that make him funny in the first place as a comedian and giving us a new look at someone that we thought would end up being his own biggest fan.

Even though I’m not as fond of her as everybody else seems to be, Laura Linney is pretty good as Truman’s wife and it makes me wonder just how much money would a lady take if they had to act like Carrey’s wife and sometimes, get it on with him? Yeesh. Ed Harris is also good as the show’s director, Christof, and gives off this God-like nature to him that makes it seem like he was the one who actually gave life to Truman after all. Also, be on the look out for a nice little side spot from Paul Giamatti. Damn, this guy was everywhere back in the 90’s!

Consensus: The Truman Show works as well today, as it did way back when in 1998 with it’s very realistic satire but also works because of an amazingly original premise that seems to get better and better as more and more is revealed, and also features some great performances from the cast, especially a very good and very different Jim Carrey.



  1. This is the best dramatic role we’ve seen Carrey in (haven’t seen Eternal Sunshine) and we agree almost wholeheartedly with your review. The concept is pulled off flawlessly and acted brilliantly by all involved, but the end IS abrupt. But that doesn’t take away from all the near perfection before it.

    Good review Dan!

  2. I was so surprised by how great this film really is! I’ve always liked Jim Carrey, even before seeing Eternal Sunshine, and it’s wonderful when he get’s the chance to really show his skills.
    Great review!

  3. It’s amazing how this film still works as well now as it did when it was first released. It’s the sort of film I could never tire of seeing. Jim Carrey’s brilliant. A great dramatic role for him. Wish he got to do more of them.

  4. This is easily one of the favorite films. It pre-dates many of the reality programs that exists. It is also written by Andrew Niccols who directed Gattaca and In Time, who has consistently made films about pre-destiny and futurism.

  5. I’d actually pay to see this on the big screen. It’s perhaps my fave role of Jim Carrey. Peter Weir is such an underrated director, and so is Ed Harris.

  6. I absolutely loved this movie, particularly after years of Jim Carrey being so clownish (which he does well, but it seemed like that was all he’d ever do… sort of like Will Ferrell today). I guess the ending was abrupt, but I loved it. I thought it was perfect not to give too much away, and let the movie kind of… float away in your mind, while you thought about it. Sort of like Eternal Sunshine.

  7. Great review man, enjoyable to read. I was suprised that I liked this film as much as I did because Jim Carrey films usually annoy the hell out of me.

  8. I really liked this movie. I watched it twice, at two different points in my life, and got something completely different out of it each time. Great review!

  9. This is definitely one of Carrey’s best performances. Yes, we have to swallow the concept that they could build a soundstage several miles in diameter to hold everything, and that no one ever gave away the secret to him, but once I got past that I was able to get into the film.

    True story: a co-worker saw this with her husband and afterwards he asked how *would* somebody know if that was happening to them. His wife laughed it off. I told her that she should start doing some of the Laura Linney product pitches from the movie when she was making supper that night to freak him out a little, but I couldn’t convince her. She wasn’t that naughty.

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