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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

The Majestic (review)

It’s a Wonderful Blacklist

EXT. L.A. FREEWAY OVERPASS – DAY

SUP. “One day in the year 2000…”

JIM CARREY stands at the overpass railing, looking forlornly over the edge at the TRAFFIC roaring by below.

  • JIM
  • I’m never going to be taken seriously as an actor. I was so sure I’d win an Oscar for The Truman Show.

He bends over and grabs his ass cheeks, slapping them together.

  • JIM
  • (despondent cartoony voice)
  • I guess the talking-ass thing was a big mistake.

He straightens up and swings one leg over the railing.

  • FRANK
  • (offscreen)
  • Say there, stranger, whaddaya think you’re doin’?

Jim looks up to see FRANK DARABONT, wearing a Shawshank Redemption t-shirt, stroll onto the overpass.

  • JIM
  • Go away.

Jim swings his other leg onto the railing, so that he’s now sitting on it, facing out toward the freeway below.

  • FRANK
  • Now, d’ya really think offing yourself is the answer to anything?
  • JIM
  • It worked for James Dean. He’s bigger than ever.
  • FRANK
  • But he never won an Oscar, did he?

Jim stares at Frank, suddenly hopeful.

  • FRANK
  • C’mon down from there. I got a part for you in my new movie.
  • JIM
  • (suspicious)
  • It’s not a comedy, is it?
  • FRANK
  • No, no, I promise — it isn’t a comedy.
  • JIM
  • So what’s it about?
  • FRANK
  • It’s about a Hollywood screenwriter in the 1950s who gets blacklisted as a commie.

Jim stares at him.

  • FRANK
  • You play the screenwriter.
  • JIM
  • So, he fights the good fight, stands up to the assholes in Washington, defends the First Amendment and all that? Do I get a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington kind of grandstanding speech?
  • FRANK
  • Wellllll… You get conked on the head, lose your memory, and end up in a small Northern California town that thinks you’re one of its boys lost in the war returning home suddenly.
  • JIM
  • Wh-whaat? Are these people idiots? Do they think the guy returned from the dead?
  • FRANK
  • No, no! It’s like a hope thing, you know, it’s… hope. It’s… Look, there’s a lot of dead boys, so there’s heartbreaking photos in shop windows all over town, handsome young men in uniform, and bunting and flags. It’s enough to make ya weep like a little girl. It’s like an American thing. It’s an all-American thing.
  • JIM
  • I’m Canadian.
  • FRANK
  • Hey, I was born in France myself.

Jim scowls.

  • FRANK
  • There’s one of those cool 50s American diners in the town? No?
  • (trying another tack)
  • It’s a movie thing! It’s movies. It’s… See, you love movies–
  • JIM
  • Not at the moment.
  • FRANK
  • No, your character, the blacklisted screenwriter.
  • (excited now)
  • Movies are your life, you’ve just had your first screenplay produced, and it’s a real corker, a swashbuckling B-movie called Sand Pirates of the Sahara, and, frankly, I think most people would rather watch Sand Pirates than The Majestic — which is what this thing is called — because it’s really cool and we’re gonna get Bruce Campbell to play the Indiana Jones type guy, and who doesn’t love Bruce Campbell?
  • JIM
  • Bruce Campbell’s American.
  • FRANK
  • Yeah, whatever. So in this little town, there’s a movie theater that’s falling down, the owner hasn’t had the heart to run it since the war–
  • JIM
  • Lemme guess. He’s my dad. Or the dad of the guy everyone thinks I am. Cuz I have no memory. And look just like him.
  • FRANK
  • Bingo!
  • JIM
  • Any more astounding coincidences?
  • FRANK
  • No, I think that’s pretty much it. Anyway, Dad is played by Martin Laudau, who gets to cry, and, you know, might as well just give him his Best Supporting Oscar now and let everyone go home. And he decides, now that you’ve returned, to reopen the theater.
  • JIM
  • That’s another hope thing, isn’t it?
  • FRANK
  • Yeah, but it’s a hope-movie thing. You know, escapism, adventure, popcorn, putting your arm around a girl at the scary parts?
  • (trying yet another tack)
  • Look, it’s a Truman Show thing! But in reverse. It’s like, you can’t deal with reality, cuz everyone in Hollywood are such shits and they’re telling you to just give in to Congress, and so You. Escape. Into. Your. Own. Movie.
  • JIM
  • What?
  • FRANK
  • Well, this town, it’s so obviously a fantasy world, so perfect — and sad, very sad — and you help them feel all better, until they turn on you, of course… It’s like Truman if Frank Capra had made it. I swear to God, Jimmy Stewart is dying for this part and he’s been dead how many years?
  • JIM
  • I dunno. It sounds really… calculated, you know? And all the small-town flag waving… what if, like, something really awful happens that makes everybody feel patriotic. Won’t it look like we’re just trying to cash in on that?
  • FRANK
  • (sarcastic)
  • Oh, yeah, and what if Congress starts going on another witch hunt and taking away everyone’s Constitutionally guaranteed rights? Christ, what are the odds of that happening? Anyway, it’ll just make people sob even more. Audiences eat up that sentimental crap.
  • JIM
  • So, is there a good Oscar clip?
  • FRANK
  • There’s a bunch of good Oscar clips, my friend.
  • JIM
  • Will critics like it?
  • FRANK
  • Probably not, because it’s what audiences like, and you know how critics hate popular stuff. But they’ll love you — damn, Jim, you’re a good actor, and I swear you won’t have to mug even once. Geez, you’ve even kinda got those movie-star good looks when you’re not talking out of your ass or smiling too widely.
  • JIM
  • Has it ever occurred to you that maybe I did all the goofy shit as a way to avoid getting shuffled into feel-good sentimental crap that critics hate but audiences love? Movie stars get the most boring and most unoriginal roles. At least I was doing something different when I was talking out of my ass.
  • FRANK
  • Ya don’t wanna look good? Tell ya what: you’ll look like a freak on the movie’s poster.
  • JIM
  • I’m still not sure…
  • FRANK
  • Damn you and your pride. Look at me — I’m gonna proudly ride that Shawshank cred for the rest of my life. No matter what piece of junk I make, it’ll always be:
  • (movie-trailer voice)
  • “From the director of The Shawshank Redemption….
  • JIM
  • I don’t always wanna be the talking-ass guy, but I don’t see how this will help much. Will I have any chance of winning an Oscar?
  • FRANK
  • Honestly? Probably not. You’ll be great, but… well, the movie kinda ends up condemning Hollywood as a bunch of spineless ass-kissers. Movies are great, sure, but Hollywood sucks.
  • JIM
  • Hot dogs.
  • FRANK
  • What?
  • JIM
  • Hot dogs. Everyone likes them, but you don’t wanna know how they’re made.
  • FRANK
  • Exactly!
  • (subdued)
  • I’m not sure that the members of the Academy will appreciate that.
  • JIM
  • So, let me get this straight. You’re offering me a part in a movie that critics will hate but audiences will cry their eyes out at. But anyone who comes to see me because they know my name will be expecting me to talk out of my ass, and they’ll leave disappointed. But anyone who doesn’t know who am I beforehand will like me, but they’ll still have no idea who I am.
  • FRANK
  • Umm… yeah, that sounds about right.
  • JIM
  • And this helps me how?
  • FRANK
  • Well, I guess it doesn’t.
  • JIM
  • Right.

Jim jumps.


MPAA: rated PG for language and mild thematic elements

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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