"The Truman Show" Spoiler-Free Review. If you've never heard of this film, read this review. You'll thank me later.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
Jan 19, 2004
Framingham, MA
Before we begin, I would like to ask anyone posting in the thread to use spoiler boxes when discussing anything that happens in the movie or in revealing its premise. Let's keep this a treat for newbs.

The Truman Show

I honestly suspect this is going to be the hardest review I've ever had to write. That previous sentence both scares the HELL out of me and excites me in equal measure. I can do this. I'm sure of it.

The Truman Show is probably the most unfortunate movie I have ever seen. I wish to God I and the rest of the world had seen it under different circumstances. We were all robbed. I think the only people who have ever seen this movie the way it was meant to be seen must have been the preview audiences at test screenings. For the rest of us, this amazing movie is much less amazing than it should have been.

I mentioned the review is going to be difficult to write. Because I am going to do everything in my power to not describe a single thing that happens in the movie. On the one in a million shot someone who reads this review has never heard of this movie and is intrigued by the review, my suggestion is to watch it immediately on HBO Max (or whatever streaming service is currently playing it) but under NO circumstances read the synopsis accompanying it. It amazes me that the movie is constructed as a mystery, revealed about two thirds of the way through. And the solution was literally spoiled in every ad and trailer. The real answer to what is going on is the most self-evident answer of course, and explains various other character viewpoints, and how they know the things they do. But I truly believe this movie would have been better appreciated by society if nobody had known that specific twist ahead of time, and puzzled it out along with Truman himself.

The thing that kills me is that I can't think of a single way to sell the movie otherwise. But I mean, The Crying Game did a mysterious ad campaign that revealed nothing but hyped the audience on the fact that everyone was talking about the movie but refusing to give away its secrets. I wish this movie had been able to do that.

But it couldn't. Because it starred Jim Carrey. I don't wish it starred anyone else, as I think Truman is his best role, and I can't picture anyone else as the character. But it's also Carrey's first real serious role outside of the TV movie "Doing Time On Maple Drive". If you sell people a Jim Carrey movie while refusing to say what it's about, his many talking-out-the-butt fans are going to be pissed it's a drama. So I get the trailers and marketing campaign.

I shouldn't even be comparing it to The Crying Game. Because people kept that secret. Maybe The Empire Strikes Back is a better comparison. The Empire Strikes Back is another movie whose enjoyability has been completely destroyed by pop culture. And while many people will agree with me in hindsight about this, the truth is it's ALWAYS been that way, even the summer it was released. I'll drop some spoilers for that now because we've all seen it.

People can say as many complimentary things about Empire as they want. They can call it the best Star Wars film ever and praise it as having never been equaled. The truth is it does not pack the punch it did when it was first released. And in fact, I'll argue why this was a problem for that movie even BEFORE it was released. Maybe if I talk about these things from THAT movie, you'll understand why marketing failed THIS movie.

But "Luke, I Am Your Father," is the surprise twist of Empire. But everybody knows that line now, and even before any modern kid has seen that movie, no matter what age they are, they all know Luke is Vader's kid. All of them. It's in the pop-culture zeitgeist. That ending shocked, amazed, and appalled Star Wars fans in equal measure back in the early 80's. And that reaction is simply not possible anymore. "Rosebud" from Citizen Kane has a similar problem, although nowhere NEARLY as bad.

But I would argue viewers of that movie were ALWAYS screwed out of a perfect moviegoing experience. Because of damn George Lucas. Time Magazine had this utterly tacky cover the summer it was released, which was a grotesque close-up of Yoda's head which made him looks even uglier and more vulgar than he already did excitedly saying "Can you believe this weird little green guy is actually gonna be Luke Skywalker's new Jedi trainer?" And while the cliche of the wise ninja master being the annoying old person the student initially dismisses is a well-worn trope, that doesn't change the fact that in the movie itself, Yoda's real role was played as a surprise, utterly spoiled and ruined by the Time Magazine cover. Like The Truman Show, I believe there really aren't any people who ever actually saw that movie the way it was intended to be seen.

I want to go over every inch of The Truman Show with you. I want to discuss the perhaps controversial nature of the ambiguous ending and why I felt it was absolutely right and perfect, but I can't because that would reveal details. Here is my compromise. If and when I see this film again, I'll do another review with a spoiler-filled deconstruction. I'll talk yer ear off. Until then I'm using no spoilers in this review in the one in a million chance someone who reads my reviews and has never heard of this film is intrigued by the review itself. Avoid spoilers at ALL costs. You will be in for an amazing treat. It was amazing for me too, but even back when I first saw it in the theater I was annoyed that was spoiled ahead of time. Do not let society's mistakes be your own, if you're never heard of this. It's an amazing film. *****.
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Back with a better image
May 13, 2016
I saw the film when it was on Netflix UK a few months ago and it's definitely one of Jim Carrey's best. The fact that he didn't get nominated for a Best Oscar Actor for this film bugs me.

Classic Speedy

Come back soon!
Staff member
May 13, 2003
I think the film still works even if you know the spoiler beforehand: I wanted to see Jim Carrey's character escape the prison he was born into.

I get the idea of going into a movie blind though, and being surprised. It's part of why I don't watch trailers anymore, unless they're in front of movies in theaters and they're inescapable.
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