The Cable Guy

  • Review Date: March 27, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 96 minutes

Common Sense Media says

A twisted comedy about TV addiction. Teens OK.
  • Review Date: March 27, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 96 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Generally, Chip acts sociopathically, blackmailing, stalking, stealing, manipulating, and lying to try to convince Steven to be his friend. Chip is also the victim of a negligent mother and absent father. Steven steals cable channels.


Lots of comic violence. Constant mention of a celebrity trial in which a former child star killed his twin. Chip beats up Robin's date. Chip is unnecessarily violent during a basketball game. Chip and Steven do battle in a medieval restaurant, fighting with swords, battle axes, and jousting. No one is seriously injured. Steven punches Chip. Chip spies on Robin. Chip threatens suicide and jumps, though he doesn't die.


A brief glimpse of a woman in lingerie on the TV, references to transexuality, brief mention of masturbation. Chip acts sexually toward his cable, rubbing the wall as if it were a woman. Chip hires a prostitute to sleep with Steven, but it happens offscreen. There's some talk about sexually transmitted diseases. Robin and Steven kiss.


Some swearing, including "bastard," "goddamn," "ass," "damn," and "son of a bitch."


Some brands are obvious, including MTV and the restaurant Medieval Times. Lots of TV shows get plugs, including My Three Sons, Jerry Springer, Ren and Stimpy, and the movie Sleepless in Seattle.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Steven and Chip drink beers and Steven gives the prostitute tequila.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Chip flashes back on a childhood where he was neglected by his mom and abandoned by his father. Chip was raised by TV, and embodies all the warnings about what too much TV does to people: he becomes a sociopath, stealing, lying, blackmailing, and manipulating because he doesn't know how to have relationships. There's also considerable comic violence in this film, including people getting beat up and the main characters brandish swords and battle axes and joust at a medieval-themed restaurant. A character threatens suicide and jumps, but doesn't die.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Imagine growing up with TV as your parent: It teaches you how to behave, what's appropriate, and what's healthy in relationships and in life. Scary. That's what happened to Chip (Jim Carrey), who has Jerry Springer's pop wisdom, sports movies' unbridled machismo, and a soap-operatic view of love. In other words, he's a sociopath. Meanwhile, Steven (Matthew Broderick) just wants his cable hooked up. Chip is the tardy and over-the-top guy who hooks him up. Right away, Chip is too familiar, too clingy, and too interested in being Steven's friend. Soon, he's shanghai'ing Steven into a trip up to see the cable satellite and showing up unbidden at a pickup basketball game. He's loud, he quotes too many TV shows and movies, and he has no social skills. When Steven tires of Chip's inappropriate antics, he snubs Chip. And suddenly Chip shows his dark side. What ensues is a cat-and-mouse game that's sometimes rollicking fun and sometimes cringe-worthy.

Is it any good?


There are some truly crazy scenes here. The battle between Steven and Chip at Medieval Times is hilarious, as is the karaoke scene. This is vintage Carrey, before he took himself seriously as an actor. He's all funny faces and off-the-wall voices.

This is also a film by Ben Stiller, who cameos as Sam Sweet, the former child star accused of killing his twin. Stiller is obsessed with pop culture references, and there are a lot in the film. But remember: this is a morality tale of what happens when parents leave their children to be raised by TV. At one point, Chip laments, "I am the bastard son of Claire Huxtable. I am the lost Cunningham. I learned the facts of life from watching The Facts of Life." There's nothing subtle here. If you agree with the message, you'll enjoy the movie. If not, it may be too grating.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about family rules that limit TV watching. Why do you have those rules? Do adults follow them, too? The film is a great opportunity to help children become savvier media consumers: are the relationships they see on TV healthy relationships? Do people in movies show their passion for each other by fighting? When you fight in real life, how does it feel? What's the difference between hyperbole for theatrical effect and real-life behavior? How much do you pattern your behavior off what you see on TV?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 10, 1996
DVD release date:September 15, 1997
Cast:Jack Black, Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick
Director:Ben Stiller
Studio:Sony Pictures
Run time:96 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexuality and comic violence

This review of The Cable Guy was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old December 24, 2011
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2010
the use of jerk-off in the beggining
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Educator Written bycaffinegirl85 February 4, 2012

funny !

Funny the pass wor is lol and don't you want somebody to love? Cable Guy is funny! i learn the facts of life from watching the facts of life oh god! lol very funny!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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