The Cable Guy (1996)

PG-13, 96 minutes, Thriller

StarringJim CarreyMatthew BroderickLeslie MannJack Black

Back when I was a kid I had a neighbor friend named Bobby. Bobby was probably more spoiled than I was at that age as he had both a Sega AND a Nintendo, hordes of toys (some of which had set-ups that took the better part of a room), and a stack of Jim Carrey movies that the both of us watched until our mothers yelled at us to stop. Our constant viewings prompted us to act like complete weirdos as kids, but what else is new at that age?

I went back. Way back to my childhood and found this bizarre case of a movie. The Cable Guy is about Steven (Broderick) moving out during some relationship struggles only to find himself mixed up with a lonely cable installer.  The cable guy (Carrey) then proceeds to fling Steven’s life out of control and the helpless Steven can only hang on as his world falls apart around him.

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You either get it or you don’t.

I imagine this film is something that a large number of people have seen. It was probably on TV movie channels every two hours for a few years after its release, but while I had remembered it I didn’t exactly remember it being quite the way it was. I mean, it was a comedy, right? Gosh, did my perception change. While this movie is full of comedians in bit parts, this is really fits better in the horror genre. Well, let’s go more with thriller, but any introvert or anyone who has ever had an uncomfortable friendship with someone will understand just how freaky this is as the cable guy goes from weirdo to stalker in no time flat. Medieval battles, destroyed relationships, sexual references, and nightmares permeate this movie with the cable guy’s psychosis.

Can we talk about Ben Stiller for just a little bit? I mean, the guy DIRECTED this, which is something that totally threw me off. I had no idea he directed anything until I rewatched this. So much has seemed to make sense after finding that out. It completely explains why the same actors keep showing up alongside him–it’s part of the culture. And then there’s the murder trial subplot throughout the movie. I had no idea the suspect was Stiller–I thought it was a REAL trial. My childhood brain apparently replaced the very real trial of the Menendez brothers with the fictional one of Sam Sweet. Goes to show how crazy I am…

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I’m not sure how I escaped having nightmares about this face.

Speaking of surprises, something that pleasantly surprised me about this movie is how much of a snapshot it is of the ’90s. There’s an awful lot of media packed into it, because, well, our antagonist is obsessed with television. Not only does our cable guy keep making references to popular shows and movies, but he is a walking embodiment of the moving media. If you don’t get it, just watch it and you’ll understand. Further encompassing the media of the time, we’re given a soundtrack worth buying full of songs I’d nearly forgotten about. It’s great. And it’s great to see this cyclone of comedians, music, and media forming this bizarre, but memorable story.

Okay, so this movie doesn’t count as one of THE greats, but the things you grew up with always hold a special place, you know? Perhaps, dear reader, you aren’t as overly obsessed with watching and collecting movies as I am, so this may not speak to you. But if you grew up during the golden age of Jim Carrey or if you really just loved the ’90s you might want to take a look back at this little time capsule.

Rating: Watch it.

tl;dr
Watch: Because you were raised with ’90s culture and ’90s culture is the best so :P.
Don’t watch: Because what the heck is going on, man?

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Deathtrap (1982)

PG (should be PG-13), 116 minutes, Thriller

StarringMichael CaineChristopher ReeveDyan CannonIrene WorthHenry Jones

Recently I went to the theater. The stage and intermission kind. It had been a while, but I still end up seeing live performances about once a year. It’s a nice experience that leaves an impression of being “cultured.” Honestly, it just tends to make for a great date night.

In walks Deathtrap: a one stage, two act, five player set. I’m given the unique perspective of watching it in the round. Each audience member gets a different view of the action as they surround the stage. Quite cool, in my opinion. I go home with mixed feelings about the performance, but I ask myself: If it was set in the late ’70s, does that mean it was written then? First search result: Deathtrap–the movie. The library has it. Screw it: I’m watchin’ it.

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Oh look! A cliche room of medieval weaponry!

While the movie is not the original incarnation, it certainly is the most commercial. Without giving too much away I can tell you that the story involves two people who set out to murder a third… and that’s about all I can say. There would really be no point in describing more as it would 1) dissolve the thriller aspect of the story and 2) GIVE EVERYTHING AWAY. No point in discovering a movie if you already know how it ends, right? That being said, I’ll try to continue lightly…

It is an interesting premise having such a limited cast and play area. In an age of all-star ensembles where they appear to have to stretch casting budgets just to pack in another well-known name, having only five (well, focusing on five) people on one (well, mostly on one) set is a stark difference. That’s where the charm of this film comes into play. Not only is the story limited to one set, two acts, and five players, but characters are working with the idea of writing a script that involves one set, two acts, and five players based around the experience they are going through. This creates an entire story based on treacherous introspection.

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Hey, man? You alright? You’ve got, uh, a little something on your face.

The acting is fine and there’s little technical going on here. It’s really just a story-driven movie that perhaps climaxes too soon with one chaotic moment that is so charged the rest of the story turns into a lackluster game of cat and mouse until the second, although not as intense, climax that finishes off the story. It is interesting, though dated, but I don’t see this being for everyone, which would explain why I had never heard of the story in the first place.

Rating: Don’t bother.

tl;dr
Watch: The first climatic scene is fun.
Don’t watch: Guy-on-guy mouth-to-mouth.