Greetings, Glancers! Today I run a more critical eye over my tenth favourite movie of the year 2001, seeking to ignore my bias and provide a fair score based on the 20 criteria I feel are most important in the creation of a film. Today’s movie is Frank Darabont’s much maligned The Majestic, a film about a Hollywood Script Writer in the 1950s who loses his memory and is taken in by a small town community who mistake him for a War Hero presumed dead.
Sales: 1. Yeesh. 1s and 2s are reserved for films which don’t make back their budget. While The Majestic made around 40 million, it cost around 70 million. Go 2 if you want, but that’s a big loss for me.
Critical Consensus: 2. I’m still waiting for the day when this is re-evaluated. It was poorly received almost universally – with critics giving it less than average scores without saying it was terrible. I think 1 is reserved for films which are actively disliked, while this was more ‘meh, too sentimental’.
Director: 3. It’s overlong, but short by Frank Darabont standards. Darabont makes good period pieces – eras not quite lost to time, but on the brink, and he evokes that US ideal which I can only assume was a dream rather than an actuality, and he handles both the material and the cast (of Darabont regulars) well.
Performances: 4. Carrey was breaking out from his manic comfort zone in this period, and this is one of the finest examples of him playing it straight. We get an always excellent Martin Landau, and a host of Darabont favourites and classic Hollywood faces – Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, James Whitmore, Bob Balaban, and Hal Holbrook. You also have cameos by Matt Damon, Cliff Curtis, Bruce Campbell, Rob Reiner, Carl Reiner, Earl Boen, Sydney Pollack etc.
Characters: 3. It’s mainly about Carrey’s Peter as he loses his livelihood, his memory, his friends, and gradually comes back to normality thanks to his love of film and the respect of his new found community. That community is peppered with homely patrons you instantly latch on to as friends, even if they’re not going to rock your world.
Cinematography: 4. Expectedly warm and beautiful from David Tattersall.
Writing: 3. I love the central idea and it never becomes too political even as it does become sentimental.
Wardrobe: 3. My usual score.
Editing: 3. My usual score.
Make up and Hair: 3. My usual score.
Effects: 2. Not really applicable here so a 2 or a 3.
Art and Set: 4. It’s named after an old school Film Theatre, and the Theatre itself becomes gorgeous. The town is white picket fence perfection.
Sound And Music: 3. Mark Isham is a little known composer outside of the big hitters – yet he’s Oscar nominated and has contributed to The Hitcher, The Black Dahlia, Crash, Blade, Timecop, Point Break, and Once Upon A Time. Like most of those movies, the score is respectable but lacks a truly memorable motif.
Cultural Significance: 2. Sometimes a film will perform so poorly that it becomes culturally significant. This was just a miss and quickly faded from memory. You could argue that Carrey’s performance was significant in his own career, and I’m sure you could argue that the film is a worthwhile part of the whole Red Scare sub-genre. I don’t think any of that is enough to get it to a 3, considering so few people saw it or talk about it these days, but you can’t go higher than 3.
Accomplishment: 3. Its evoking of a time which may or may not have genuinely existed as shown is enough to get a 3 for me.
Stunts: 3. There’s a car crash near the start and some movie within a movie stuff, but nothing to shout about.
Originality: 3. I’d like to go 4 here, but I don’t think it’s that original – memory loss stories have been a staple in Hollywood since day 1. Placing it in the time period and cultural context certainly makes a difference – this is a 2 or a 3 in all honesty.
Miscellaneous: 3. It’s the third of only four films which Darabont has made, and it’s the sweetest and least offensive of them all – which somehow made it his most offensive film. I think all four of Darabont’s films are in my Top 10/20 lists of the year. I don’t know – I’m giving it a 3.
Personal: 5. I love it. Based on all of the above, there’s probably no solid reason for me to give a 5, but I enjoy the sentimentality and Carrey is always good – there’s something cosy about it which helps me forget how horrible the world can be for a couple of hours.
Total Score: 57/100. Anything below 60 isn’t great, but if it weren’t for the crap box office returns and critical consensus, this would have landed in the standard mid-60s. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!