A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has brief strong and vulgar language, mild sexual references, a scary accident, and a sad on-screen death. Many characters are mourning sons killed in the war. One returning soldier is disabled and bitter. Pete responds to bad news by getting drunk and he drives while he is drunk.
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What's the story?
Set in the 1950s, THE MAJESTIC centers on Hollywood screenwriter Pete (Jim Carrey), whose feels like he's on the brink of success, with his first film about to arrive in theaters, a starlet girlfriend, and a great script accepted for production. But Pete's life turns upside down when his name comes up in the McCarthy-era investigations of suspected communists. Upset, he gets drunk, gets into an accident, and winds up with amnesia in an idyllic Norman Rockwellian community where everyone says he looks familiar. Harry Trimble (Martin Landau) thinks Pete is his son, Luke, a war hero reported missing in action. Harry seems so sure that Pete begins to believe it. The town has lost many young men in the war, and his return is cause for celebration. Harry is so excited he even pledges to reopen his movie theater, The Majestic. As Pete tries to figure out who he really is, he meets people from Luke's past, including his girl, Adele (Laurie Holden). Meanwhile, FBI agents, convinced that Pete's disappearance is evidence he's a Communist, set out to find him. Lack of a past allows Luke/Pete to think about what his dream really is. Still the screenwriter, he "fills in the blanks" to understand the lives of the people in the town. But in rebuilding The Majestic and connecting to Harry and Adele he achieves a greater authenticity of feeling and spirit than he had before.
Is it any good?
For the first time, in The Majestic, Jim Carrey opens himself up to draw from a more vulnerable part of himself as he plays a character who literally does not know who he is. It is not a great performance, but it is a moving one, within the context of the story and as an invitation to share some of Carrey's own journey to a broader maturity as a performer. The Majestic shares this double layer of meaning because it is as much about the movies and the role they play in our lives as it is about the characters and the story.
Harry says that in a movie the good guy should always win, and this is a movie that Harry would love. It has enough of the guaranteed elements for warming the heart to please both the fictional studio executives in the movie and the real-life ones who got this made. And it presents these homespun values with enough sophistication (and a little bit of "just-kidding" ironic distance) to make it work. It plays with history and gets a little corny, but the movie itself has such a good time with it that the audience does, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Red Scare of the 1950's that blacklisted many Hollywood writers and performers. As recently as 1999, when distinguished director Elia Kazan received a special Oscar, there were protests because he cooperated with the House Committee, as Pete is urged to do here. Some of those called to testify refused to cooperate. What were the different pressures that Pete had to reconcile? What were the priorities that made him decide what he did? How did his ideas about himself change? Why?
- In theaters: December 21, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: June 18, 2002
- Cast: Jim Carrey, Laurie Holden, Martin Landau
- Director: Frank Darabont
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 150 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: brief language and peril
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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