de: A ++
While you're out there seeing the many popular films that have come out recently, be sure that you take in The Majestic.
An unexpectedly delightful film, The Majestic is the story about Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey), circa 1951.
Appleton is a screenwriter verging on a successful Hollywood career when the plug to his perfect professional world is pulled. Under suspicion by the FBI for conspiring with the Communist party, Appleton's career suddenly takes a nose dive.
Although innocent of the charges, Appleton's demise is up in the air. Hollywood counsel advises him that his best course of action is to `admit' to the charges and offer up a few names.
Disconcerted about having to admit to something he didn't do, the soon-to-be black listed screenwriter begins to sink into despair. After cleaning out his office, he spends the day in the bar, wallowing in unhappiness.
Disregarding the bartender's pleas for caution, Appleton takes to the road for a drive down the California coast.
When he swerves to avoid running over a possum his car takes a dive off of a bridge into a roaring river. Sometime later he finds himself lying on a beach being awakened by the slobberings of a Golden Retriever ... and he can't remember anything.
The owner of the Golden Retriever (James Whitmore) is elderly pawnbroker Stan Keller who kindly takes Appleton to the nearby town for breakfast and a visit to the town doctor Doc Stanton (David Ogden Stiers).
Everyone in the small town of Lawson has the feeling that they know who this mysterious stranger is. In due course he is `identified' as the long lost son of Harry Trimble, the owner of the town's currently run-down theater, The Majestic.
Since he doesn't have any recollection of who he really is, and since he bears a striking resemblance to Luke Trimble, everyone is town is more than eager to embrace the possibility that one of their own has returned from the war after nine and a half years of being `missing'.
Luke's fiancee is called back to town from the big city where she has been studying to become a lawyer. Seemingly uncertain of whether or not this really is Luke she shows him around town offering clues' to help him remember his life as Luke.
What this town needs more than anything after loosing so many young men to the war, is a shot in the arm. Appleton's lack of memory for who he really is provides the town with exactly what it needs, and Appleton is made a better man for it.
The Majestic is filled with plausible heartwarming relationships that are sure to stir feelings of hope and pride.
It also is a clear reminder of the bleak era of Hollywood, a period dominated by investigations by the United States government into the supposed Communist infiltration of the movie industry. But mostly it's the story of how one man finds the strength to stand by his convictions and ultimately, become a hero.
Jim Carrey achieves an outstanding dramatic performance as Peter Appleton. But, what I really enjoyed about this film was the performance of Martin Landau as Luke's father.
After all of those old television Mission Impossible themes finally faded from the back of my mind, and I got used to seeing him in advanced age, I really enjoyed watching his performance.
**** The Majestic is rated PG for language and mild thematic elements.