"How's it Going to End?": 'The Truman Show' Turns 25 | Features | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

“How’s it Going to End?”: ‘The Truman Show’ Turns 25 

I’ll always associate The Truman Show with a critic quote that appeared on a movie theater standee, a few weeks before it was released: “The movie of the decade- and it stars Jim Carrey.” 

It came from a review of the film by David Thomson of Esquire, and it was seen as shocking at the time since Carrey’s movie career up to that point had consisted of broad comedies like Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber. 

The Truman Show arrived in theaters in June of 1998 — 25 years ago this week — and it was something very different from Carrey, an honest-to-God great dramatic performance. But beyond that, it’s a movie that had something real to say about the life and culture of America in the late 1990s — while also predicting a lot of things that were coming down the pike in the new millennium. 

The Plot

Directed by Peter Weir and written by Andrew Niccol, The Truman Show tells the story of a man named Truman (Jim Carrey) whose life is a 24/7 reality show, in which all of the people and places around him are fake. But Truman, who has lived in such a way his entire life, has no idea that this is the case. 

“Seahaven,” Truman’s hometown, resembles a version of prefab 1950s America, one overseen by Christof (Ed Harris) the director of the show. 

It’s a plot that had more than a bit in common with that of The Matrix, which would arrive about a year later, with the hero discovering that he’s part of a simulation. 

Indeed, Truman discovers very early on that something is amiss. A light from the set falls to the ground, a man who he thinks is his dead father re-appears, and the other characters seem to always stop him from leaving town. It all leads up to an existential decision for the hero, as the world watches the finale of his story.  

The Truman Show has been compared a lot to reality TV, and what it probably has the most in common with is The Joe Schmo Show, a reality game show that debuted in 2003, and featured a guy on a game show who was surrounded by actors playing characters. Joe Schmo had a second season, was revived in 2013, and is now being revived again. In the second season, much like Truman, one of the contestants figured out what was going on. Jury Duty, a show that debuted this year on Freevee, brought a similar idea to a jury trial. 

In a detail that’s more a weird coincidence than anything else, it turns out far-right Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida grew up in the house where The Truman Show was filmed. 

Critics Loved It

Critics loved The Truman Show, much more than they did any of Carrey’s other films up to that point, and the movie was a sizable hit, making $125 million domestically and another $138 million internationally. It was nominated for three Oscars — for director, supporting actor (Harris), and screenplay — but not for Best Picture, and Carrey was not nominated. 

Carrey continued reinventing himself as a dramatic actor in the ensuing years, with varying success; The Truman Show was probably the best film Carrey made in his career. Weir would direct only two more films: the much-loved in retrospect Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World in 2003, and The Way Back in 2010. 

The Truman Show is streaming on Paramount+ and Showtime. 

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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