The Majestic (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Please note: in order to comply with the new federal Internet regulations, this review will be close-captioned for the Gilligan-impaired

At the beginning of the film, Jim Carrey is a Hollywood big shot with a fancy car and hot babes on his arm. Then he does one thing to bring it all down.

You guessed it:  Ace Ventura 2 - When Nature Calls

Oh, wait a minute. I need to tell you what Jim's character does to screw it all up. He's a commie. He wants to overthrow the U.S. Government with violence, then establish a rule wherein we all call each other comrade, wear cheap suits, and talk with thick accents. At least that's what J. Edgar thinks.

What Jimbo really did was to attend a meeting of an unknown group with his would-be girlfriend. I think you can see already how simple the morality of the film will be. It could be an intelligent film if Jimbo really were a Commie, or actually had knowingly attended a Commie meeting, or at least attended the meeting because he was interested in their principles. But no-o-o-o-o.

  • he didn't know it was a Commie group
  • in fact, it wasn't actually a Commie group, but a student group called "Bread, not Bullets", which sympathized with the plight of the working man. It was not until 13 years later, in the Red Frenzy, that someone decided that was a Communist thing to do.
  • even though the group was harmless, Jimbo didn't know what the hell kind of meeting he was going to, anyway, and had no interest in their principles
  • he only attended one meeting
  • he was only there to pick up chicks
  • it didn't happen after the war, when Russia was our sworn cold war enemy. It happened during the war - when Russia was our beloved ally!
  • it happened 13 years before the incident portrayed in the main story
You see, in this type of film it is essential that there be no room for thought, no shades of grey. Jim is completely innocent, the FBI is completely unreasonable in pursuing him for a blind date.

NUDITY REPORT

none

Jimbo is understandably upset that J. Edgar wants him to lose his cushy job and go to a poke-im-in-the-ass prison because of something so completely innocuous, so he does what any of us would do. He gets rip-roarin' drunk and drives his car off a bridge.

Then I forget what happens next, because I just struck my head on my computer and it gave me amnesia.

You don't believe me? You shouldn't. Neither should you believe him when the same thing happens to him, proving once and for all that Hollywood employs no writer with any actual ideas.

Gilligan gets hit in the head by a cocoanut

A few days later, Jimbo washes up somewhere along the California coastline, having been carried out to sea.

After Gilligan loses his memory, he falls asleep on a raft which the professor is working on, and is carried away by the tides.

The current dumps him in a town where -

1. although the population of the entire town is approximately 100 people, they lost 60 boys to WW2.

2. one of the sixty lost boys looked exactly like Jim Carrey.

3. the entire population is white and middle-class, except one black man, who is a war hero

Gilligan's raft comes ashore on another island where the natives have a graven image of their Great One, as foretold in the ancient prophecies. The image looks exactly like - Gilligan.

Needless to say, the reappearance of one of their dead war heroes gives the town a new dream it never dared to dream. Crops are revitalized. Lovers are reunited. Lepers are cured. People follow Jim around town, hoping only to touch the hem of his garment. When he rides into town on an ass, they strew palms in his path ...

The simple islanders make Gilligan their king

 ...then they crucify him.

Or maybe I have it confused with King of Kings. I guess they don't actually crucify him when he proves not to be their lost hero, but they would have if the FBI hadn't gotten him first.

Gilligan finds out that the natives are cannibals who honor their king by eating him. Fortunately, his memory returns, and ... blah, blah

I don't feel like describing this any more. I think you have the picture outlined clearly. You know Jim doesn't know who he is, so he tries to become the missing war hero. You know the FBI is hot on his trail. And if you have seen any episodes of Gilligan, you know that he always gets his memory back in the end, so all that is no secret.

DVD info from Amazon.

Theatrical trailer(s)
Movie Within the Movie: Sand Pirates of the Sahara - The Complete Sequence
Additional Scenes
Widescreen anamorphic format

The title of the film comes from the movie theater in the old town, which was run by Jimbo's dad, and closed down after the war because ... well, they never really specified the reasons, but I think we can assume that it was because everyone in the town of working age was dead. That had to hurt ticket sales. Jimbo's re-appearance inspired his dad to re-open the theater, its Renaissance representing a similar rebirth for the town itself.

Many people have said the film longs for a simpler America. No so. In fact, very misleading. America was just as complicated, maybe more complicated, in the period from the invention of talkies until the Red Scare. But the movies were simpler, and they portrayed us in a simple idealized way that never really existed. This movie doesn't want to return us to the way we really were in the 1950's, but to they way we were portrayed in the 1950's, ala Ozzie and Harriet.

The Critics Vote

  • General panel consensus: three stars plus. Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4, filmcritic.com 4/5

  • General UK consensus: two stars. Daily Mail 4/10, Daily Telegraph 7/10, The Guardian 6/10, Evening Standard 5/10, The Express 4/10, The Mirror 4/10, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: a failure. It grossed only $27 million dollars, having been produced for a lavish $72 million. It was a head-clearing dose of reality for Frank Darabont, whose previous film grossed $136 million in the USA alone.

 

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. I don't know how many people want to see a Frank Capra film made in this day and age, but if you are one of them, here you go. Darabont does a good Capra. Jim Carrey does a good Jimmy Stewart. Pure corn, but beautifully executed.

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