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Peter Weir
Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Brian Delate, Blair Slater, Peter Krause, Heidi Schanz, Ron Taylor, Don Taylor Ted Raymond
Writing Credits:
Andrew Niccol

The Story Of A Lifetime.

He's the star of the show - but he doesn't know. Jim Carrey wowed critics and audiences alike as unwitting Truman Burbank in this marvel of a movie from director Peter Weir about a man whose life is a nonstop TV show.

Truman doesn't realize that his quaint hometown is a giant studio set run by a visionary producer / director / creator (Ed Harris), that folks living and working there are Hollywood actors, that even his incessantly bubbly wife is a contract player. Gradually, Truman gets wise. And what he does about his discovery will have you laughing, crying and cheering like few film stories ever have.

Box Office:
$60 million.
Opening Weekend
$31.542 million on 2315 screens.
Domestic Gross
$125.603 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 8/23/2005

• “How’s It Going to End?: The Making of The Truman Show” Two-Part Documentary
• Four Deleted Scenes
• Photo Gallery
• TV Spots
• Trailers


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Truman Show: Special Edition (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 17, 2006)

An episode in Season Six of The Simpsons offers a comedic look at prospective events in 2010. (That year was 15 years in the future when the show was created.) One of the gags mocked the concept that Jim Carrey would make movies that endured enough to merit a serious film festival retrospective.

Indeed, that idea sounded silly in 1995, but with only four years to go until 2010, it doesn’t come across as absurd at all. Over the years since that Simpsons episode, Carrey did a lot to establish himself as a serious actor. 1998’s The Truman Show was his first major step in that direction.

Carrey plays Truman Burbank, the unknowing star of his own reality show. He lives in the fictional town of Seahaven, a burg created just for him populated solely with actors. The program followed him from birth and now finds him in his mid-thirties. He spends most of his time with “wife” “Meryl” (Laura Linney) and “best pal” “Marlon” (Noah Emmerich). His “mother” (Holland Taylor) also lives in town, but his “dad” (Brian Delate) apparently “died” in a boating accident years earlier, an event that induced a fear of the water in Truman.

Everyone knows this is a show except its star. Strange happenings start to give Truman clues, though, especially when his dad mysteriously reappears. A few other events make him suspicious, and he more actively pursues his longtime dream to visit Fiji. Why there? Because his brief illicit college romance with “Lauren” (Natasha McElhone), an extra who almost spilled the beans to Truman. When her fake father carted her away, he claimed they were moving to Fiji, so Truman became obsessed with that destination and a reunion with his lost love.

For the most part, the film follows Truman’s attempts to unravel the mystery and escape. We watch all the various complications series creator Christof (Ed Harris) puts in the way and how Truman reacts. All of this occurs as the whole world follows the events.

When I examine The Truman Show, I find myself of two minds. On the negative side, the movie asks us to really suspend disbelief. In fact, it requires us to demolish, obliterate and utterly destroy disbelief if we want to accept it.

I couldn’t do it. As I watched the flick, I couldn’t help but frequently consider the absurdity of the situation. There’s no way anyone could pull off a charade of this magnitude, especially not for such a long period of time. Sure, the movie tries to explain some of the mechanics, but it remains an utter impossibility.

In addition, such a series would be absurdly expensive to mount, and it’d have to rely on an enormous and insanely loyal audience. No series could maintain such a huge viewership for more than three decades, especially not one with so much mundane material.

Think about it: how interesting would it be for anyone to watch your life 24 hours a day? For every interesting moment, there are thousands of dull ones. A series like that would be a moderately intriguing curiosity for a little while but never would amount to more than that, especially in a setting as quiet and sedate as Seahaven.

And how could they get actors to commit to such a series? It’s one thing for some of the extras to come and go, but is someone like “Hannah Gill” – the “actress” who plays Meryl – really going to give up her true life to spend so much time on the set with Truman?

Despite the myriad of logical gaps involved with the project, I admit that Truman offers a thoroughly entertaining flick. Many tout the fact that it predicted the reality TV craze, but I don’t care about that. I simply think the movie’s often a blast to watch as we check out all the ways that the producers manipulate Truman’s life. Sure, it’s amazingly ridiculous, but it’s darned fun to see.

Though Truman is supposed to be the film that opened up Carrey’s dramatic range, I don’t see it that way. He still mugs and goofs a lot of the time, as he rarely makes Truman feel like a real person. Some of that makes a lot of sense; someone raised in such a TV-oriented environment certainly would have an unusual personality. Still, Carrey’s dramatic strides are minor. He does as much “real guy” material in The Mask as he does here.

Don’t take that as a slam on Carrey or his performance, though. He’s very entertaining as Truman, and his presence helps make the movie work. A less interesting but more realistic actor would have been a liability, as Carrey enhances the artifice of the situation. I simply think it’s a mistake to view this is a really human, three-dimensional performance. Carrey has greater range in him, but he doesn’t show it here.

When I balance out the two sides, I leave The Truman Show with a guarded positive rating. It’s a blast to watch but it stretches believability so far that it snaps and hits me in the eye. Watch this movie without much critical thought and you’ll really enjoy it.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Truman Show appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, this was a pleasing transfer.

Sharpness was consistently positive. Only a smidgen of softness interfered with a few wide shots. Otherwise the movie boasted very nice definition and clarity. I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, and just a little edge enhancement was apparent. In regard to print flaws, I noticed a couple of specks but nothing else arose.

With its happy TV setting, Truman featured a broad, lively palette that looked great. The colors were very vivid and dynamic throughout the film, and they offered the transfer’s strongest aspects. Blacks were dark and dense, while low-light shots demonstrated very nice definition as well. This transfer seemed quite satisfying.

One note about the aspect ratio: from what I’ve read, I believe the film was originally intended to be shown at 1.66:1. If that’s the case, this DVD cropped it slightly. I didn’t notice any problems in that regard and saw no real verification that it occurred, but I wanted to mention it as a potential caveat.

I also liked the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Truman Show. Unsurprisingly, the scope of the soundfield was usually limited. Some weather sequences opened matters up, though, as thunderstorms and a sea squall brought the surrounds to life. Most of the time the track stayed with general ambience, and it delivered those elements well. Music also showed nice stereo imaging with a little reinforcement from the rear.

Audio quality sounded good. Speech was natural and concise, while music demonstrated nice clarity and range. Effects appeared accurate and full. The louder bits like thunder presented solid depth and punch, and no problems came with the track. The mix wasn’t particularly ambitious, but it came across as a positive one.

This “Special Collector’s Edition” includes a mix of extras. We open with a documentary called How’s It Going to End?: The Making of The Truman Show. The two-part show fills 41 minutes and 44 seconds. It mixes movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from director Peter Weir, production designer Dennis Gassner, producer Edward Feldman, visual effects supervisor Michael McAlister, and actors Noah Emmerich, Laura Linney, Ed Harris, and Jim Carrey.

The program looks at the script and its development, casting, characters and performances, the design of the locations and sets, camera issues and cinematography, and reactions to the final flick. The only real disappointment here comes from Carrey’s lack of participation. He only appears via old clips and barely pops up during the show. Otherwise, “End” presents a lot of useful material. I really like Weir’s backstory for the series and the actors’ insights into their characters. The show gives us a fine examination of various topics and remains consistently compelling.

A featurette entitled Faux Finishing: The Visual Effects of The Truman Show goes for 13 minutes, 16 seconds. It presents remarks from McAlister, Gassner, and Matte World visual effects supervisor Craig Barron. They chat about the subtle use of visual effects in the film to build up existing sets and to create a “hyper-real” look to the environment. The show runs through the issues in a tight, informative manner and adds enough good archival materials to support the details.

Four Deleted/Extended Scenes run a total of 13 minutes and eight seconds. We find “Product Placement” (five minutes, 25 seconds), “Truman Suspicious” (4:23), “The Future Cast Meeting” (2:08) and “Truman Missing” (1:11). All are reasonably interesting, though they don’t add much to the story. “Cast Meeting” offers the most intriguing piece since it lets us look behind the scenes at how the production operates.

A Photo Gallery includes 40 shots. Most of these come from the set, though we get a few publicity images as well. In addition to two trailers for Truman and two TV spots, the DVD launches with ads for Airplane!, Tommy Boy, MacGyver and “The John Wayne Collection”. Those clips also appear in the disc’s Previews area.

The Truman Show stretches its clever premise to the breaking point. It presents a wholly unbelievable situation and never makes us accept this as reality, but it’s so darned entertaining that I forgive it. The DVD offers good picture and audio plus a collection of informative extras. This becomes a nice release for an interesting movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 21
4 3:
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