Movie Review

The Majestic

MPAA Rating: PG for language and mild thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
STAFF WRITER

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Romance Comedy Drama
Length:
2 hr. 23 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
December 21, 2001 (wide)
poster
Relevant Issues
Laurie Holden and Jim Carrey in “The Majestic”

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Communism / Hollywood 1950s Communist blacklist

amnesia / memory loss

screenwriter for Hollywood studio

long lost son

father son reunion

mistaken identity / stolen identity / identity theft

abandoned theatre

PATRIOTISM—Does being a Christian mean that I should be patriotic? Answer

father daughter relationship

boyfriend girlfriend relationship

Featuring: Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Laurie Holden, Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey DeMunn
Director: Frank Darabont
Producer: Frank Darabont, Liz Glotzer, Michael Sloane
Distributor: Warner Brothers

There are some that remember the events and the tone of our country during the cold war. Our primary enemy at that time was Communism and not terrorism. We went from the Red Scare in the 1920’s to McCarthyism in the 1950s. The Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, was accused of instigating his own version of the Spanish Inquisition or the Salem Witch Trials. It was a time of fear and sometimes hysteria as we looked for communism under every rock. The result was a most intensive focus. No one was safe from these public probes. Government workers, College Professors, Playwrights, Hollywood Screenwriters, actors, artists, and musicians were all suspects. The most intensive pressure was brought to bear on Hollywood. They were perceived as the shapers of public thought. Many writers moved to Mexico or Europe to avoid being put into prison. Ozzie and Harriet, Doris Day, and Annette Funicello were among the lists of rumors and myths. Charles Chaplin was deported during this controversial time. McCarthy did not create the communist problem, but he exploited it shamelessly for political ends. The new media of television captured these moments and the public soon began to see through the microscopic scrutiny. The tide of public opinion soon turned against him.

“The Majestic” does an outstanding job of capturing this period of American history. This film succeeds in the nostalgia department where films like “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” failed. It is an almost perfect Capra-esque fable. Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile”) directs a film that you could take your grandparents to and not be ashamed. I like the fact that the movie takes its time to develop the characters.

Jim Carrey in “The Majestic” Our story is about Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey). He is an up-and-coming Hollywood scriptwriter. Just as his career is getting off the ground, it is discovered that he once attended a politically incorrect meeting in order to pick up a girl. This single moment in his life places him on the blacklist of the House Un-American Activities Committee. He is issued a subpoena to testify and trade a list of names in order to purge him of the accusations.

Peter steps into a bar to drown his sorrows and leaves the scene driving under the influence of alcohol. He has an accident and drives his car off a bridge. Peter is discovered by Stan Keller (James Whitmore) and he can’t remember how he washed up on shore. Stan takes Peter to a local diner for some breakfast and to see the local doctor, Dr. Stanton (David Ogden Stiers). He looks familiar to everyone, but Peter cannot recall his own name.

Our mystery man is spotted by Harry Trimble (Martin Landau). Harry sees the stranger as his son, Luke, who was lost in the war. Peter begins to assume Luke’s identity. His old girlfriend, Adele Stanton (Laurie Holden), tries to help him jog his memory. Luke’s resurrection brings unity and new purpose to the town. He even helps his dad restore the local palace movie theater called “The Majestic”. Just as Peter begins to have his memory restored—the government catches up to his location.

The following scenes of testimony before Congress are both moving and memorable. I don’t want be guilty of scene spoiling, but you should bring some Kleenex with you (I wish I had). This film is a refreshing breath of fresh air. There is little profanity, but there are some religious exclamations. There is no sex or violence. It is a film for the entire family. It is a piece of history that reminds us all how precious our freedoms are. It is a movie that reminds us why we are fighting against terrorism. Without a doubt—this is the BEST film of 2001. I hope it’s successful and Hollywood would be motivated to make more just like it. Thank you Castle Rock and Mr. Darabont—I just knew you could do it!


Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—My comment is on the wonderful movie “The Majestic”! Directed by Frank Darabont. First of all, I am a blue collar manufacturing employee. I have raised two children and live in Wisconsin. I am a conservative by nature! 61 years old. Not a worldly film critic with an extreme agenda. I love the classic films, films that tell an honest story with strong characters and an identifiable purpose. I have to tell you, when I saw the movie, The Majestic, I was simply glued to the TV for the entirety and a house fire couldn’t have torn me away! I was completely absorbed into each character and was thoroughly impressed at how basic family traditional values were emphasized! I grew up following the greatest generation, which were the WWII era Americans! My father and mother both served in WWII! I am very proud of that! I served during the Vietnam War!

I can’t tell you how many times I shed a tear watching this fine movie! It brought back to me a time when things were much simpler and much less confusing! When communities all worked together for a common purpose! When love of family and country were at the top of the list! When everyone was accepted for the common good! It didn’t matter how much money you had or how much land you owned! What mattered was who you were and what you stood for! People are judged first, by what they see and secondly, by what they say!

I am a Jim Carey fan! This was, by far his strongest performance I have ever seen! It should receive movie nominations for its production and its characters. Laurie Holden was superb in her supporting role. She was simply heartwarming and she typified the type of girl we all wished we had supporting us! Great performances by Martin Landeau, David Ogden Stiers and a special appearance performance by James Whitmore! Don’t forget that he served in the US Marines during WWII also! unfortunately, James passed away in 2009! I know the movie was made in late 2001, but for some reason I missed it.

Ever since I have seen the movie though, I have been overwhelmed by its story line! Simply captivated by its message and wish that more movies were made in such a manner! Hats off to Mr. Frank Darabont for an excellent movie, as usual! That is all I have to say. I appreciate the opportunity to express my thoughts and wish all of you the best! Thank you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Gregory P. Plutshack, age 61 (USA)
Positive—Although it has its flaws, this is generally a great film that teaches positive values. Its rare to see a film that emphasizes the importance of character as much as this one does.
My Ratings: [4]
—Eric, age 48
Positive—This movie is just what our country needs right now: a wholesome reminder of all that is good. Family values, small town values, patriotic values. Leaving the theater, I heard a teenager remark: “That was cheesy.” Okay, sure. But I like good American cheese!
My Ratings: [Good]
—Kerry, age 45
Positive—I enjoyed this film so much. So much that I have been telling my friends about it. It was so nice to see a movie that didn’t have so much foul language in it. It had things to laugh about as well as cry. To me, and my wife, it was a wonderful movie. I recommend this one.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Ben, age 45
Positive—In the great tradition of movies like “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile,” Frank Darabont has fashioned a gem of a movie, one so rich with Americanism that it is almost intoxicating. Although I prefer “Shawshank,” “The Majestic,” with Jim Carrey in the lead role is pretty darn good in its own right and Capraesque fashion. Sadly, it seems that only about one out of every three critics liked this movie, but I don’t think it could have come at a better time. Surely, “The Majestic” has the potential to work as a healer to all Americans still mourning over the events of September 11th. Not in agreement that it’s the best picture, Mr. Downs, but a Christmas treat for all who are willing to dream indeed.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Eric Schmidt, age 13
Positive—How refreshing to see the talented Jim Carey in a wholesome movie! He was awesome, as was the whole movie. it’s so much better than that horrible and over-hyped Lord of the Rings. Anyway, The Majestic definitely brought to mind a time of innocence in America, when neighbors knew and cared about each other. But it also reminds us that ALL was not good in the “good old days.” it’s a sweet movie overall, with a couple of objectionable scenes (an accident that might be too scarey for young ones) and a slang term (horny) but other than those things, it’s amazingly clean by Hollywood standards. Our whole family went (ages 10-45) and everyone loved it. I wish Jim Carey would do more of this type of movie. It suits him.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Joe Beth C., age 37
Positive—“The Majestic” is a heartwarmer! Enjoyed seeing Jim Carrey in a different and calmer role. Great story, good acting. A “2 tissue” movie with a few laughs, too. didn’t even notice that so much time had passed. A handful of profanities and adult language, but no sex or violence. Best movie I’ve seen in some time!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Melissa, age 33
Negative—Only Hollywood USA, could produce such a nonsensical movie. Not a speck of realism in a movie that contains some serious thematic material, such as the McCarthy era, which focused on Hollywood figures as accused communists and subjected them to professional and other hardship. Stereotyping runs pitifully rampant in this movie. The melodramatic music, which points out all the emotions we are too feel, only made an already silly movie worse. The visual cinematography was good, but did not make up for the poor screenplay. There are some excellent performances, specifically that of the consistently outstanding Martin Landau. Scenes with him rang true and the audience was touched appropriately, as sniffles in the theater communicated. But otherwise, this was a movie that really tried to be special and touching and moving, and as far as I’m concerned, fell flat on its face. Not an Oscar winner for Jim Carrey at all, who never quite convinced me in his role. So disappointing.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Halyna, age 55
Positive—This is a wonderful movie that communicates the forever truth that family is not necessarily flesh and blood, but is made up of real people who need to be loved and often find meaning in life through giving love to a stranger. I left the movie with the truth of the word of Jesus from John 10:29,30 ringing in my mind and heart when he said “I tell you the truth, there is no one having given up and left houses or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or land who will not receive a hundred times as much now in this time…” A man in search of meaning in life found his life when he lost both his life and his plans and traded them in for caring relationships with a small community of people who needed a son.
My Ratings: [5]
—Paul, age 48
Positive—I love family movies, and I often rent the old classics, and I was hoping The Majestic had the look and feel of both—and it did! I enjoyed The Majestic tremendously. The movie was long, but it did not feel long. It was not an edge-of-your-seat kind of movie. It was a “relax and enjoy it” kind of film. I almost got teary on a couple of points (Always a sign of a good movie—when it actually touches your emotions.) And I left the theater glad I had gone. I wish Hollywood would make more movies like The Majestic. Movies without a bunch of hoopla, violence, and special effects, just character development and storytelling!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Rena, age 36
Positive—Jim Carey is great in The Majestic. it’s an old fashioned movie with nice people who are kind and helpful. There are a few exclamations using God’s name, and one use of the word “horny.” Other than that it is really clean. it’s a good story about not jumping to conclusions and standing up for our rights and freedoms. I hope you will support this movie so Hollywood will get a clue and make more family style movies.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Kathy G., age 40
Positive—I thought that The Majestic was a really good movie. There was the occasional profanity… The story was sweet and wholesome. The acting was also good. I’m a fan of Jim Carrey and he certainly didn’t let me down. Overall, anybody over ten or eleven would enjoy it.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—William, age 19
Positive—I found this movie very good. It wasn’t one of my favorite movies, but is was fairly good. It was very, very low on offensive material. I would recommend it for almost anybody.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Jane, age 23
Positive—I am a Jim Carrey fan and was interested in seeing him in a dramatic role. (I have never seen The Truman Show.) The Majestic is a pleasant movie overall, with a splendid cast of small town, 1950’s characters. Carrey plays a decent sort of “don’t make waves” kind of guy, working in Hollywood as a screenwriter. After an accident that leaves him with amnesia, he finds himself reluctantly stepping into the life of Luke Trimble, a missing-in-action World War 2 hero who suddenly seems to appear back in his home town after an absence of nearly 10 years. Carey, unsure of his past, accepts the assertions by his “father” and other townspeople that he is indeed Luke Trimble, and begins to settle in to his new/old life. I think Carey was wonderful in the film, and looked particularly handsome as the clean-cut, All-American young man. The two driving themes of the movie are, in my opinion, hope and the conviction to stand up for what one believes in…
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 4½]
—Kelly Daniels, age 44
Negative
Negative—I will have to say that a movie like this would have been an instant classic except for the GDs. I agree with Larry when he says that he is sick of paying money to hear our Lord’s name taken in vain…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3½]
—Martin, age 27
Negative—I am a big Jim Carrey fan and started out very into this film—arresting plot, beautiful cinematography, wonderful re-creation of a bygone era. But about halfway through I started to cringe at the direction it seemed to be taking. I didn’t want it to go there but it did, full steam ahead, and quickly spiraled downward into a self-indulgent Hollywood political statement. It pretends to be about freedom in general but is nothing more than a liberal poor-pitiful-me shot at anyone who would dare question anything produced in Tinseltown. Very disappointing. And two GD’s in the script are enough to keep me from calling this movie “wholesome”. I’m tired of paying money to hear my precious Lord’s name taken in vain.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Larry, age 44
Comments from young people
Neutral—I saw this movie today with my family. (I walked in a little bummed at the fact that I was spending $9 on a ticket that wasn’t for Lord of the Rings). It was… alright, I mean, It was a little slow. and the plot seemed a little incredible. Not quite sure how often freak coincidences of that sort occur, but I thought it was a little far fetched. This movie did deliver some good acting though, and I am starting to like Jim Carrey’s non-comical roles. Though I just kept thinking about dumb and dumber, maybe that’s just me… anyways, I found myself nodding off towards the end. And it bothered me how political the movie eventually got. but, oh well, it was still entertaining.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 2]
—Joey, age 15
Positive—I just saw the Majestic tonight at the movies. It was quite a nice change from watching The Lord of the Rings last night. To me, this movie gave me a good feeling. I guess that feeling would be kinda like when you curl up in your grandma’s lap and she reads you a bedtime story. I really appreciated Jim’s serious tone in this movie. The majestic could do with out the few cuss words it has. To me, it really showed a supreme example for standing up for what is right.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Kristen L., age 16
Movie Critics
…refreshingly wholesome…[but] several obscenities and a number of strong profanities…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…3 religious profanities, 27 religious exclamations…
—Kids-in-Mind
…While it’s not a horrible misfire by any means, has some nice individual moments, and could play quite well to viewers looking for an old-fashioned, feel good movie, the film is not without its faults…
—ScreenIt!