I love this movie for bringing to mind the old Frank Capra movies from the fifties telling the story of the average Joe brought about into a large situation where the character comes of age and self-discovery. Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) is a movie writer for B-movies living in the 1950’s during the war where McCarthyism sprung forth upon America. He is blacklisted among others as a communist sympathizer and loses his job. Down in the dumps, one faithful night he goes for a ride and gets into a car accident. He is discovered that morning by an old man and is taken in a sweet little town. Struck with amnesia, he is accidentally mistaken by the townsfolk as a lost war hero and is instantly accepted within their confines, ultimately changing theirs and his own life. But what will happen when he eventually gains his memory back?
Jim Carrey, hitting it big on whacky physical comedy movies goes off-type in this movie and stuns me as he portrays a simple shy character is gets into this situation. He shines on-screen and proves he’s not just a comedian but an excellent actor as well. He manages to pull of emotional scenes of depth and tears without fail and never goes over the top. He’s a character we can root for, and he chose this part well. This displays the very ideals shown within the stories director Capra brought to life and made so famous.
Movies that try to live up to his stories often fail by being to cliché or too sentimental, but Screenwriter Michael Sloane and director Darabont get the formula just right. Carrey is excellent in the lead role supplying both vulnerability and wit as he attempts to find his place in a town he doesn’t remember. Often times in the movie, the government is on his tail suspecting him of being a communist. They represent not only villains but corruption into this small innocent town. On the throws of war ourselves this country sough a number of pro-war movies, but this dares to blame the government and challenge their hypocrisy.
Michael Sloane is able to give a great message through the story displaying how the government tends to put our rights on hold for the sake of war. The climax of the movie is the best part as Carrey’s character must go up against the government attempting to prove his innocence. It’s an excellent epic scenes that kept me plastered to the screen. The movie is shiny and glows on the screen with excellent landscapes within this small town. We also get great supporting characters who help this movie move along with great roles from Martin Landau, and Ron Rifkin to name only a few. Look for a hilarious cameo by Bruce Campbell and a voice cameo by Matt Damon.