Reviewed by Dennis Morton
The House Un-American Activities Committee
was a malevolent collection of xenophobic fundamentalists. Mention the
word "communist" and, like Pavlov's dogs, they'd foam at the mouth. Long
before the phrase "politically correct" gained currency, these bullies
were attempting to impose their version of ideological purity on all of
In Jim Carey's new film, "The Majestic",
HUAC and it's appendages get the richly deserved role of bad guy. Carey
plays the part of a screenwriter disillusioned with the marketing strategies
of his keepers.
Lacking the courage to defend a script
he's been laboring on, Carey hits the local pub. Under the influence of
ten too many, he jumps into his car and heads north, on the coast highway.
Weather, chance and
inebriation add up to - surprise - a spectacular
accident. The protagonist is knocked unconscious. Comes the dawn and our
man is found on the shore by a beach comber and his faithful dog. But don't
he's OK. A little banged up and burdened
with a bout of amnesia, but otherwise, hunky dory.
All this happens in the first ten minutes,
so I've not given much away. Most of what I've told you is revealed in
the previews. Even more. For instance, that Jim Carey is mistaken for a
World War 2 MIA. Because of his amnesia, Carey can neither confirm nor
deny this case of mistaken identity. We also learn from the previews that
Carey's putative dad was the owner/operator of an old movie theatre, "The
Majestic", long ago shut down.
Naturally, it falls upon Carey's shoulders
to bring the "Majestic" back to life, much as his character is thought,
by the townsfolk, to have been resurrected.
I wish I could tell you that I liked
this movie. Who wouldn't enjoy watching HUAC lampooned and harpooned? Why,
it would be practically un-American not to get off on that. But sadly,
this is a saccharine simulacra of an all too real struggle that devastated
the lives and reputations of too many decent people.
Jim Carey is always fun to watch, and
Laurie Holden, who plays his love interest, is very impressive. She IS
the real thing and I hope we'll be seeing lots more of her. But "The Majestic",
which might have been majestic, had it had more courage and less treacle,
never makes it beyond that mud puddle of mediocrity in which most Hollywood
The fact is, there's a much better
script in the making, right in our own backyard. It involves The City of
Santa Cruz, a pair of private investors, a not for profit support committee,
and the partners who now
own and operate The Nickelodeon Theatre.
Within a month or two, this coalition will have succeeded in bringing back
to life The Del Mar Theatre, on Pacific Avenue. All over America, grand
old movie houses like The Del Mar have either fallen into desuetude or
met the reaper in the form of a wrecking ball. But not this time. Those
of us who love the movies owe at least the tip of our collective hat to
the folks responsible for bringing back the Del Mar.
On a recent edition of KUSP's "Talking
Pictures", I had a conversation with Chuck Volwiler, co-owner of The Nickelodeon,
and Catherine Graham, President of "Friends Of The Del Mar", the not for
profit citizens' committee spearheading community involvement in the project.
Listeners had a chance to phone in questions for Chuck and Catherine.
But the last caller offered more than questions.
The last caller was Peter, who, with his partner Nell, operate Newman's
Own Organics. Peter and Nell pledged $2,500 to the "Friends Of The Delmar
Committee". If this is indicative of the kind of support The Del Mar can
count on, we can all look forward to a very long run for this landmark
For The Film Gang, this is Dennis Morton.
See you at The Del Mar.
Copyright Dennis Morton 2002