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Jim Carey Should Be Unplugged

The Cable Guy starring jim Carey at Sony Fresh Pond

By Andrew A. Green

I'm babysitting for two kids this summer, one of whom, Alex, an eight-year-old, is obsessed with Jim Carey. His mother, figuring it would be a good time for us, suggested we go to the opening day of "The Cable Guy," which stars Carey and Matthew Broderick.

She and I figured it would be a great plan--Alex would sit still for two hours, watching Carey twist his face, contort his body and lower our IQs as we watched. Instead I sat through the movie hoping to god my youthful companion wasn't figuring out what was going on.

This was not the film for Alex--a boy who feels Carey's career peaked with "Ace Ventura II: When Nature Calls." I'm not entirely sure, in fact, whom this is a film for, other than future stalkers of America. While Carey does provide just enough moronic humor to induce vomiting, his role does not hearken one's mind back to the salad days of "Dumb and Dumber." Instead, we are greeted with an eerie and disturbing tale, meant, it seems, to expose to us the dark side of TV.

In one of the film's more touching moments (which isn't saying much), we are shown vague, blurry flashbacks of Carey's parentless childhood. His father abandoned him and his mother left him nightly to pick up men in sleazy bars, leaving the TV as his only guidance. Sniff sniff.

Even as we blink back the tears, we begin to wonder about this mysterious Cable Guy and his passion for telecommunications. His name--Ernie Douglas, though his friends call him Chip--aren't Ernie and Chip Douglas characters from "My Three Sons?" Indeed they are, though if this was your first sign that there's trouble afoot, you, too, should probably seek therapy.

Was it when Carey challenges Broderick to a joust that we see the stormy seas of psychosis on the horizon? Was it when he plays "Dirty Password"--"The adult version of the popular game show"--with Broderick's mother and girlfriend? Or how about the time he sets Broderick up with a girl who later turns out to be a prostitute? Really, there are so many warning signs that our friend The Cable Guy is one big psycho.

The movie becomes a bizarrely postmodern version of "Fatal Attraction"--if you haven't watched enough Nick at Nite in the last few years, you're going to have a hard time fully appreciating what's going on.

A partial understanding, however, is probably more than you'd really want anyway. Do you really want to watch the love triangle developing between Carey, Broderick and Broderick's girlfriend--who, incidentally, rushes to get back with Broderick after Carey hooks her up with free cable?

Free cable is, after all, the force that binds this movie together. In the world of "The Cable Guy," Carey, the giver of cable, becomes the brazen icon of a false god, pulling a motley crew of followers under his spell and making them cheer his vaguely pornographic karaoke rendition of "Somebody to Love."

Perhaps we are meant to be disturbed by the lengths to which people will go to shore up their free access to pay channels. Maybe we're even supposed to think that the trial being televised throughout the movie--apparently a mix of the O.J. Simpson and Menendez brothers trials--is some sort of sad commentary on our society.

That, after all, seems to be the point at the climactic moment of the film, when Carey hurtles down to almost sure doom onto a massive satellite dish which provides cable to all of southern California and knocks out TV to millions of viewers anxiously awaiting the verdict.

In another heart-wrenching image, a man, distraught at the loss of his cable, looks around only to find--gasp, gasp--a book.

Okay, okay. TV rots your brains. We know that. Our parents have been telling us that for years. There's nothing new here, no new drama and certainly no new message.

Except of course that Jim Carey is a big psycho, a role in which he is all too convincing. Matthew Broderick does a fine if not spectacular job as the lone island of sanity in Carey's ocean of dementia, but Carey's seduction to the dark side of the force does not prove terribly moving. His portrayal of a character split between "Fatal Attraction" and "The Three Stooges" does not pull convincingly one way or another. Jim Carey does not, nor will he likely ever, move us to tears, and unfortunately as the Cable Guy he barely moves us to laughter either.

We are left with a big, dark, messy tangle of conflicting themes and messages--Is it okay to stalk someone? Well, only if you do it in a funny way--that is far more attractive to bury in the backyard than to try to untangle.

What's probably most frustrating about the movie is that it lacks any sort of real resolution whatsoever. It appears that after a final heart-to-heart with Broderick, Carey will mend his ways. Broderick's life will come back to normal and everyone will live happily ever after. Then Broderick, savvy to the "Chip Douglas" trick, asks for Carey's real name, The Cable Guy replies, "Ricky Ricardo" and does a quick impression--which could just as easily have been of Pee Wee Herman--before being flown off by the paramedics, one of whom he tries to stalk.

So make sure you don't take any eight-year-olds to this movie. It may result in years of therapy. In fact, grown-ups should stay away from the theater as well; they can just wait for it to come out on cable.

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