The Cable Guy (1996) – A Strange Meta Commentary on Jim Carrey’s Famous Characters

Now, I had never heard of this movie. Well, I had heard about it. But I had never really heard anyone talk about it. All I really knew was that it was a Jim Carrey movie. So, going in, I really didn’t know what to expect. Yet, what I got, was still very far from what I expected while not expecting.

First of all, this movie is a strange time capsule. How the “nice” TVs and computers look is pretty laughable by today’s standards. But also, the cast is a time capsule. A young Ben Stiller both directs and has a small role in the film. A Young Jack Black and Leslie Man both play supporting roles. Young Owen Wilson and Young Bob Odenkirk also make appearances in what seems today like cameos but now that I think about it, it was just them playing small roles because it was early in their careers. I say this film is a time capsule with the cast because I know all these actors from movies after 2005 or so. I’ve never seen Jack Black so young. This movie also has I guess what you might call an old Matthew Broderick, since we all know him as Ferris Buller. It was just fascinating how many people this film had at the beginning of their careers who would later become much bigger stars. But what I also did not expect from the film is the content.

This movie is very interesting for one simple reason. It shows what it would be like to know a Jim Carrey character in real life. Unlike most movies with a wacky Jim Carrey, this one does not have Carrey as the main character. In fact, he’s the villain. Carrey plays a lonely, unhinged, TV obsessed, Cable Guy who becomes obsessed with becoming Borderick’s friend. In a fascinating way, it shows why having someone around who acts like a Carrey character would not only be annoying but terrifying. While intentional or not, The Cable Guy becomes a sort of meta commentary on Carrey’s characters. The Cable Guy does silly voices and instead of being funny like in The Mask, it leaves the audience feeling uncomfortable for Brodetrick’s character who has to deal with it. He does over exaggerated movements and, again instead of being funny like in Ace Ventura, it comes across as awkward. When he does things simply because it’s funny, like most of his characters, instead of being funny it instead leaves the audience terrified for Matthew Borderick’s character because he keeps suffering. When all of Carrey’s character’s actions are taken out of the context of comedies, it very quickly become terrifying. As we, the audience, watch Broderick’s life come crashing down due to associating with the Cable Guy we really see how destructive people like the characters Carrey plays can be.

Now, I do want to be clear, this isn’t some scathing review on Jim Carrey and his characters. I love a lot of his movies. It was just something interesting I noticed while watching this movie. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was hardly a new revelation. I’m sure a lot of famous comedies become a lot scarier if you shifted the focus to another character. This movie is just one of the few that did just that and I’d love to see more like it. As a movie, The Cable Guy is OK. Not great, but a perfectly fine way to spend the evening. But as a commentary on the typical 90’s comedy mold, it’s great. If you have if you have nothing better to do, have Amazon Prime, and like Jim Carrey or any of the other actors listed above, I’d say you should check it out.

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