The Truman Show
By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Thought-provoking story has some mature themes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie raises important questions on the problems of the "mediated" nature of contemporary life, of life as manufactured spectacle, of living vicariously through characters in TV shows and movies.
Positive Role Models
Most of the people in Truman's life aren't "real" but are simply characters brought in by a messianic television producer. While Truman is shown as being cheerful, optimistic, and friendly, the reality in which he has been placed makes it impossible for him to be seen as a role model.
Violence & Scariness
Some tense scenes, including a scene in which Truman's "father" dies from drowning during a storm. Some peril: Whenever Truman tries to leave the island on which his show is set, various natural and man-made disasters are manufactured to stand in his way, including fires and nuclear explosions.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild sexual innuendo.
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"S--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," "Jesus," "goddammit."
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Products & Purchases
One aspect of the movie is its satire of product placement in movies and television programs.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Beer drinking -- Truman's "best friend" almost always shows up carrying a six-pack. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Truman Show is a 1998 movie in which Jim Carrey plays an orphan who from the moment of his birth has had his life televised 24/7 for the delight and entertainment of billions. The satirical qualities of the film should provoke thought and discussion on topics such as how product placement is used in movies and TV shows, as well as how our society's insatiable appetite for entertainment leads to our own "mediated" existences -- lives lived vicariously through characters on-screen. There is some peril, including a "flashback" scene in which Truman as a young boy watches his father drown while on a boat with him during a thunderstorm, and a series of natural or man-made disasters that befall Truman whenever he strays too far from the "setting" of his "show." Expect some alcohol and cigarettes, and profanity includes "s--t" and "bitch."
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The Truman Show
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What's the Story?
In THE TRUMAN SHOW, Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is an insurance salesman who gradually realizes that everyone around him is part of an elaborate "show" and that every aspect of his life has been orchestrated and broadcast throughout the world. Truman's "ideal" suburban community is an elaborate set, and his wife and best friend are actors. Sponsors pay for the show by having the participants praise their products. And all of it is presided over by Christof (Ed Harris), who leans into his microphone to give direction: "Cue the sun!"
Is It Any Good?
A thought-provoking story and outstanding performances (including a sensitive and subtle portrayal by Carrey) make this is a very worthwhile movie for families to watch together. Teenagers will relate to Truman's sense (correct in this case) that he is constantly being watched and that the world is organized around him.
While the satire may be above the heads of younger kids, there is still a lot to discuss. They will be interested by the fascination that Truman's "real" story has for a worldwide audience with an insatiable hunger for something to watch on television, at the same time rooting for him to find a way out and wanting him to stay so they can keep watching him.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the movie's premise. Do you watch reality TV? How did this movie seem to anticipate the onslaught of reality TV in the 21st century? How far do you think we are from such a show actually being on TV?
How is product placement satirized in this movie? Do you view product placement as a cynical attempt to manipulate an audience into buying what is shown on the screen, or do you see it as something that isn't that big of a deal so long as the movie or TV show itself is good?
How does this movie address "mediated" reality, the reality of those who spend hour after hour of their leisure time watching TV or movies -- in essence, living vicariously through people real or imagined churned out by the entertainment industry?
- In theaters: June 5, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: January 26, 1999
- Cast: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Natascha McElhone
- Director: Peter Weir
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements and mild language
- Last updated: April 22, 2023
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