It’s one of the Jim Carrey movies that moves me. Majestic and Bruce Almighty are the other two pieces of that trilogy. Much like Cormac McCarthy’s The Border Trilogy, these movies form a part of a single work: a study or journey through a shared theme. (Liar Liar might be included, but it is overshadowed in parts by Carrey’s manic.)
The characters in the movies are not the same. Truman is the optimist. Peter Appleton the realist. Bruce the jaundiced cynic. But they share a commonality. A desire to find, live in their dignity. It moves beyond a desire to a quest culminating in an open struggle for dignity, for identity. Each battles for a place in a world that notes their struggle only as a part of TV programming, political grandstanding, or corporate infighting.
The world is not openly hostile–just aggressively indifferent. Perhaps the most telling scene in all of the movies is when Truman looks in the bathroom mirror, leaping into a brilliant piece of improv–a man landing on the moon–and then winks at the camera, assuring his unseen audience, “That one’s for free.” His defiance is rooted in humor, love, and self, but it goes unnoticed. The techs have turned away.
Carrey may not be a Tom Hanks or a Humphrey Bogart or a Richard Burton. But his contemporary versions of Huckleberry Finn, Samuel Spade, and Jake Barnes are mesmerizing. His audacity as a comic transforms the tragic into the heroic, the mundane into the mythic. He sees the hopeless and laughs, making nihilism irrelevant. “In case I don’t see you. Good afternoon, good evening, and good night.” No need to read Waiting for Godot.
The audience cheers and cries for him; that though is irrelevant. He is an Aurelius who has defined himself, exiting the stage into an unseen world and taking the show with him.