A lonely cable guy desperately seeks a new friend.
I know there are people that absolutely love Jim Carrey’s (“Bruce Almighty”) sense of humor, but I am not one of them. Sporadically, his humor does strike a chord (for whatever reason, “Dumb and Dumber” still strikes me as hilarious), but most of the time all of his goofy facial expressions and over-the-top physical humor just doesn’t really cut it for me. I truthfully tend to enjoy Carrey’s more serious roles over his comedic ones. I think his best performances were in “The Truman Show”, and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, and “Man on the Moon” (which I still consider to be more of a drama, even though it is a biopic of comedian Andy Kaufman).
While I’ve never been a huge fan of Carrey’s, I had heard a lot about “The Cable Guy” over the years. Usually, whenever “The Cable Guy” came up, the conversation would revolve around how bizarre the film was; no one really ever recommended it to me, but no one ever really told me not to watch it either. It was as if “The Cable Guy” lived in movie recommendation purgatory: the film simply existed. Eventually, I grew curious enough that I added it to my watch list,, and when I saw this movie was streaming on Hulu I decided to give it a shot. I must say, I can understand why no one recommended this film to me, but I can also understand why, more than twenty years after its initial release, this film is still being talked about. This movie is just bizarre.
“That concludes our broadcast day. Click.”
After Steven Kovacs (Matthew Broderick, “Election”) and his girlfriend Robin (Leslie Mann, “Knocked Up”) split up, Steven moves across town to a new apartment. When having his cable installed, Steven engages in friendly conversation with The Cable Guy (Carrey), and the Cable Guy invites him out the next day. With nothing better to do, Steven begrudgingly accepts, only to find out the Cable Guy is a bit of a nut.
Every decade, I feel like there are certain comedies that are produced solely to fit a comedian’s personality/style of humor. In the 80s, Eddie Murphy had “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Coming to America”; in the 2000s, Will Ferrell had movies like “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and “Step Brothers”; and today, Kevin Heart has movies like “Central Intelligence”, “Ride Along”, and “Get Hard”. In the 90s Jim Carrey was king, and his comedies like “Dumb and Dumber”, “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”, and “Liar Liar” all did fairly well at the box office, so its no surprise to me that this film, a movie that exists only to show off how goofy Carrey can be, was made.
Whenever you get movies like this, which are tailor made to show off a particular brand of humor, I feel like the films’ long lasting success is pretty much a coin toss; some of these kinds of movies will go on to become classics, and other ones will be forgotten about within a few months. Films like the ones listed above are sort of a gamble, because oftentimes they use humor that might feel dated in just a few years time, particularly if they rely so heavily on the actor’s performances and use pop culture references as ubiquitously as “The Cable Guy” does. This film took a huge gamble breaking the mold of many 90s comedies by taking a darker road when the preferred path of the 90s comedy was wacky and zany, and for that I respect it. However, this movie isn’t all that funny, nor does it seem to be making a point with its characters or story. There are too many references to too many films/tv shows that, if you’re not a cinephile, I doubt you’ll get them. And just because someone references a popular movie, doesn’t inherently make that reference a joke. Saying, “This is just like “Goldeneye!” isn’t a joke; it’s just stating the obvious. There are other references that feel slightly off color and dated, like, for instance, director Ben Stiller (“Meet the Parents”) has a cameo as a character named Sam Sweet. In this film Sam Sweet is a high profile murder suspect, and his character has garnered a ton of media attention (his trial is always on tv). This movie came out about a year after the OJ Simpson trial, so many of the jokes revolving around Sam Sweet are almost direct reference to the Simpson trial… Now, twenty-three years ago, OJ Simpson references were probably everywhere in comedy, but now, how many people will understand the context of these jokes and make the connection that this movie wants us to make? I would guess not many; those jokes in particular have really depreciated in value.
Another issue I have with this film is that it feels very one note. “Look at how weird this guy is!” only carries a film so far. It’s alright to have standout comedic characters (Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”), but there needs to be someone the viewer can also relate to and cheer for. Matthew Broderick’s character isn’t so charismatic that I want to watch this movie just for him, and Jim Carrey’s character is more annoying than humorous, so which character am I rooting for, and, more importantly since this is a comedy, are either of these characters funny and likable enough that I want to return to this movie or recommend it? I didn’t really care for any of the characters in this film, and no, I don’t think I liked it enough to ever return.
No, I didn’t care for this film, but I am happy I watched it, if only because I had heard so much about it and for so long that I needed to watch it at some point just to form my own opinion. And what is my opinion of this film? Meh, it’s just not for me.
If you like Carrey, if you think his physical brand of humor is hilarious, this might work a lot better for you than it did me. But honestly, this film felt like it was lacking a lot. There wasn’t really a clear message, the humor almost always felt stilted, and the characters felt like rehashed versions of characters Broderick and Carrey had played plenty of times before. This movie is nothing special, but it is as bizarre as everyone says.
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