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Carrey disconnects
in 'The Cable Guy'

The Cable Guy
1.3M QuickTime movie

A Review

From Correspondent Carol Buckland

June 13, 1996
Web posted at: 11:45 p.m. EDT

(CNN) -- Imagine if you will a film starring Jim (The 20 Million Dollar Man) Carrey in which the funniest thing is a running gag which does not -- repeat NOT -- involve him.

That's "The Cable Guy."

This ill-conceived flick unplugs during the first reel and never gets back much juice. While I expect it will have a big opening weekend, I also anticipate word-of-mouth will dim its box office prospects -- big time -- within a matter of days. Maybe hours.

First off, let me say that I am a Jim Carrey fan. I think the man borders on genius in terms of physical comedy. I enjoyed "The Mask," "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and (mea culpa) "Dumb and Dumber."

four images from the movie

In other words, I went into "The Cable Guy" rooting for the star and hoping for some major laughs.

I came out disappointed. My funnybone had been left UNtickled. I was bummed.

Befitting his salary, Carrey takes the title role in this movie. He's an ultra-lonely weirdo who insinuates himself into people's lives by providing them with one component of the American dream -- free cable. With all the premium channels.

His latest target is a mild-mannered (one might say cluelessly spineless) architect named Steven Kovacs, played by Matthew Broderick.

The two bond ... sort of. Then things start to come unstuck. Feeling spurned by his supposedly best new buddy, Carrey's character goes over the line. Over the edge. Off the emotional cliff!

Carrey works his butt off here and uncorks a couple of seriously funny moments. Unfortunately, his big schtick tends to stop the movie cold. It has little or nothing to do with the story. Overall, his character is too off-kilter. Too unbalanced. In an effort to "stretch" himself as a performer, Carrey creates a person who ends up being creepily repellent.

He's likely to alienate many of his younger fans without winning over more "serious" moviegoers.

While Broderick is an appealing actor, the dim bulb wimp he plays here becomes more and more annoying as the movie unreels. His behavior strains credulity beyond the snapping point. I can forgive a movie character for behaving stupidly once or twice in order to advance the plot, but all the time?

Lou Holtz Jr.'s script starts with an intriguing (if not exactly original) premise but reduces it to a twisted joke. While Ben Stiller's direction has some flashes of genuine wit, he cannot make this movie's bizarre mix of slapstick and psychosis work. The film's heavy-handed message about the negative effect television has had on the national psyche doesn't help matters.

I mean, like, duh. Haven't we heard this before?

"The Cable Guy" runs 95 minutes and is rated PG-13 for language and sexual innuendo (would you believe a game of "Porno Password"?). Younger kids who loved Carrey in "Ace Ventura" and "The Mask" probably won't get this movie.


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