I had read a review before seeing this, so I knew it was not a Jim Carrey laugh-a-thon. Even though mostly what they show in the previews are the Carrey-esque moments.
Truman Burbank is the first child to be adopted by a corporation. The corporation televises Truman's entire life. They build an entire town around him and populate it with actors and extras. Thousands of cameras are scattered around the town. Some manned and some are built into the set, such as behind the LED display of his car radio. Everyone knows it's a TV show except Truman. For example, a pair of twins meet Truman every day, apparently at the same corner every day, and they physically position him against a sign for some daily heavy-handed product placement.
They have a few flashbacks to show earlier moments in his life. For example, we learn that Truman has wanderlust at an early age. "I want to be an explorer!" he proclaims in class. The teacher, knowing that he's not going anywhere, pulls down a map and says, "There's no place left to explore."
The creator of the Truman Show, played by Ed Harris, goes out of his way to instill phobias into Truman to make it hard for him to leave the little town. He stages Truman's father's death in a boating accident when Truman was a child. And a newscast on the radio reports, apparently routinely, that another aircraft started shedding parts while it was flying.
The movie starts when Truman is about 30. Day 10,909 if I remember correctly. A spate of incidents begin to clue Truman in to the conspiracy that's going on around him. Equipment failures, seeing behind the set a coupla times, his wife speaking in commercial-ese. He catches on, and starts noticing inconsistencies. He notices people on a loop, walking around the same block endlessly. Every time he tries to leave, convenient spontaneous events crop up to frustrate his attempts. Like a nuclear power plant leak, or planes booked up a month in advance.
Eventually, he's standing at the edge of his world, speaking to the creator of that little world. The Ed Harris character tries to entice him into staying, but Truman takes a final bow and walks through the door.
The premise of the movie sort of wraps up both a soap opera and a tabloid gossip rag. The situations are staged, as in a soap, but Truman's relationships are real to him, which would cater to the tabloid crowd. It's about taking voyeurism to new heights. And then cashing in on it commercially.
One aspect that they barely touch on is the betrayal by everyone Truman knew. His best friend flat-out says, "I would never lie to you." They don't show him coming to terms with that.
This movie felt like it had a lot cut out of it. A few characters got cut abruptly, and the Ed Harris character didn't even begin to be fleshed out until over halfway through the movie. It was mostly a movie about the accidents that twigged Truman to the truth and then his escape attempts. I think it would have been a much more interesting movie if they had dealt more with the consequences of him finally recognizing the truth. I wonder if that movie ended up on the cutting room floor.
On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, this movie rates Cable with Dinner. What was there was well done, but it felt unfinished.
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