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The Truman Show

Starring: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris
Director: Peter Weir
Genre: Adventure / Drama
Year: 1998
Rating: 4 / 5

The Truman Show, the logical extension of our society's desire to constantly invade the lives of everyday people, is a brilliantly-conceived, well-acted spectacle that is sure to make everyone's Top Ten lists at the end of the year. Featuring a significantly toned-down Jim Carrey, along with the always-steady Ed Harris, The Truman Show allows us to see how far our world's obsession could go, and affords us the opportunity to see how close to this possibility we really are.

The Truman Show, as seen in the movie, is an on-going, mostly spontaneous tale about one man's life, starring reluctant "everyman" Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey (Liar, Liar). Truman has been on camera his entire life, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He is a worldwide phenomenon, adored by millions, and his show is the most popular of all-time. The world watched his birth, having followed him from the womb, watched his first steps, and watched his growth into adulthood. It seems almost as if the entire world is living vicariously through Truman Burbank.

Before the cries of inhumanity begin, I will say that Truman Burbank is not a sad and terrible case study. What kind of parents would do this to their child? What kind of person would want this for their life? These questions invaded my mind from the outset, yet they are answered as well as can be expected. Truman was an unwanted pregnancy, and he beat out four other prospective babies for his starring role. While he does live a sheltered life, he is therefore protected from harm, and he is allowed to live his life in a utopia most of us can only dream of. His situation is far from ideal, as he must deal with the daily emotional grind of life just like the rest of us. (The difference, of course, is that a portion of his distress is a creative manifestation for the television audience.)

Reality is what we are told it is. This describes the belief of Truman originator Christof (Ed Harris), who wants his audience to realize that, while Truman's world might seem unusual and constrained to some, it is not in fact that way to Truman. The world in which he lives is the only one he has ever known, and, therefore, is reality to him. Christof, in a very telling sequence in so many ways, describes how he feels that Truman's existence is actually one which is preferrable to our own.

Director Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society) lavishly produces Truman's idealistic society, where Truman is the star of his own life story. His world, made up of pretty white houses, the perfect job (with just enough challenges to make it worthwhile), a loving wife, and a best friend for life, has everything a human being could want. Enough drama is cooked up to make things believable (and to increase ratings): a long-lost college sweetheart, for whom Truman still yearns, a tragic boating accident at a young age. The world is watching all of this, and a few production glitches are all that prevent Truman from living in ignorance his entire life.

What will happen to Truman when he comes to realize that his perfect life might not be so perfect? Will he have the strength and courage to seek out the answers? The answers are unknown to him, and unknown to the world's viewers, but make no mistake: whatever Truman decides, "the world is watching."

Jim Carrey.........Truman Burbank
Ed Harris..........Christof
Laura Linney..........Meryl Burbank
Noah Emmerich..........Marlon

Certification: Rated PG for language.
Running Time: 102 minutes.

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