ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE MAJESTIC (2001)


DIRECTOR  -  frank darabont

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  152 minutes

RELEASED  -  11 december 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  warner bros.

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the majestic

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $72,000,000
the majestic - a shot from the film

BUY THE DVD:

buy the dvd from the majestic at amazon.com

buy the dvd from the majestic at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
in this capra-esque drama set during the 1950's blacklist, a young, ambitious hollywood screenwriter loses his job and his identity, only to find new courage, love and the power of conviction in the heart of a small town's life.




MOVIE FACT:
the bar jim carrey goes to is the coco bongo. the nightclub in the mask was also the coco bongo.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from the majestic

picture from the majestic

picture from the majestic



RATING:


two out of four possible stars

I've called films like this sentimental fluff more often than not, and sometimes, the term has been deserved. And with The Majestic, the man who gave us The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption has some explaining to do. Perhaps it was some magical combination with Stephen King or the fact that Frank Darabont can only tell a good prison story, but The Majestic just isn't as thought provoking as were his previous two films.

This film is different, certainly, and that is no reason to hate it, but the spirit it tries to create, like something out of a Jimmy Stewart movie, isn't convincing. The make-up and the sets seemed to be on target as far as historical accuracy goes, and the performances were also impressive. But the "airy" feeling present in those feel-good films of the 1940's doesn't show itself anywhere in this film. I suspect that the reason for this is because Frank Darabont is more suited to serious drama with a hint of humor than serious comedy with a hint of drama.

Something which made his earlier films bearable, considering they were both set in prisons, was the genuine humor present in most of the scenes of the film. With The Majestic, Darabont was unable to make his comedy convincing and the whole film falls short of inspiration (as the movie poster to this film would have you believe), and stays emotionally flat for most of its run. That is probably the biggest problem with the film. The emotion stays flat for the entire run of the film. Aside from a few mournful glances from Jim Carrey, the film doesn't have a real climax. Nobody escapes from jail and nobody gets electrocuted.

Now, you don't need something that dramatic to finish up a film, but with a comedy, the ending had better be side-splittingly funny, or heart-rendingly dramatic to give the audience some resolution. But with this film, the drama never increases and the humor really isn't the caliber of a true comedy. It seems as though the film was constructed to be kind of "sweet" and without any other virtues, the film just never gets off the ground. A static emotional timeline on a film is probably the first mistake any screenwriter makes on the first draft of a film, and after seeing this film, I was reminded of so many screenplays I've read from my fellow students in film school.

They're flat and without a lot of emotion. But to fix this, all the writer need do is rewrite some action into the film. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to throw car crashes and blow-ups into the mix, but including a few good arguments can't hurt. What this film lacked most was a "raising of the stakes" in each successive scene. The movie huddled mostly on the bland for so long that when the end finally did come along, I was almost glad the experience was over. That doesn't happen very often. even most bad films have a point where they become interesting. And although The Majestic had a few interesting points, it was hard for me to become interested in what the filmmaker was trying to say with the picture

Perhaps that's because the theme to this film ... actually, I don't know what the theme is. I'm not looking for a lesson like you'd find in an episode of "Sesame Street," but I would have liked to have taken some knowledge away from this film that I didn't know before. It began interestingly enough, with Jim Carrey's character sitting in on a meeting of Hollywood studio execs listening to them hammer out the details to a script. And there were then a few good scenes with a monkey. But after Carrey loses his memory and washes up on the shore of a northern California town, the film seems to hibernate at the same level.

After thinking about the performances in this film a bit, I've come to realize that this film is probably just a glorified bid by Jim Carrey to get an Academy Award. After being stiffed a few times for performances that should have earned him one, it seems that Carrey has attached himself to a film that offers more close-ups of his own face than Oscar appeal. Jim Carrey actually did a more than credible job with his role, and was convincing, no wait, more than convincing as a man suffering with amnesia who suddenly becomes the recipiant of a family. And on its surface, this film has an interesting premise.

But I suspect that one of two things went wrong with this story on its way to the screen. It could have been that the story got the wrong director attached. Perhaps Frank Darabont just couldn't handle the different genre that this film was from his previous efforts. Or perhaps it was just that the story itself looked better on paper than what it eventually turned into on the screen. I can't deny that the film had some good performances and sufficient attention to period detail, but further than that, this film doesn't really make an impact. One of its most interesting topics is the story of blacklisted hollywood writers and what they went through during the witch-hunt trials of the house unamerican activities hearings in the early fifties when the fear of communism was at an all time high.

This topic alone could have filled the movie up to the brim with drama, but with only a few scenes that touch on the topic and a bunch of bad guys who don't really pose too much danger to Jim Carrey's character, the film seems to hover on the mundane. And because this isn't the 1940's or the 1950's, those feel-good stories that let you leave the theater with a smile on your face just don't cut it anymore. A film today needs a strong dose of drama or comedy. And even those sentimental Jimmy Stewart films had a decent amount of those elements. It may have been that Frank Darabont was looking to create some of that "innocent" fun of those old films, but unfortunately, the audiences of today are quite different from those of the 1940's. We as viewers expect more from our films and whether that comes in the form of car crashes or character suffering, The Majestic can only be classified as flat.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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