Sunday, September 20, 2015
THE CABLE GUY (1996)
Directed By: Ben Stiller
Written By: Lou Holtz Jr.
Uncredited Writer: Judd Apatow
Cinematography By: Robert Brinkmann
Editor: Steven Weisberg
Cast: Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, George Segal, Owen Wilson, Annabelle Gurwitch, Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Janeane Garofolo, Andy Dick, Diane Baker, Eric Roberts, Kathy Griffin, Charles Napier, Kyle Gass, Amy Stiller, Joel Murray, Sulli McCullough
*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review
Steven Kovak has been kicked out of his apartment by his girlfriend. Steven has a new apartment, and decides to slip the cable guy (Chip) $50 for free cable. Steven then fakes an interest in Chip's line of work. However Chip takes this to heart trying to become Steven's best bud. When Steven no longer wants to be Chips friend the man who can do it all goes on an all out assault to ruin Steven's life. In the backdrop is the delicate sub-plot of the trial of a former kid star for murdering his brother.
While the film of course doesn't age greatly. The film is quite noteworthy as it is one of the darkest comedies of Jjm Carrey's resume thus far. Even if it seems to derail from total oblivion as far as content in scenes during the last minute. It is a fun ride. Though it sounds like a Saturday Night Live skit character come to life. It is so much more
The weird thing is for all the comedic actors in this film who could have handled the co-lead Matthew Broderick was cast and though he is obviously miscast it strangely works. His character who seems so tightly wound and tense works for the characterization and as the movie gets crazier he seems so comfortable yet out of his element, that it works. Though at first they seem an odd pair of co-stars that factor actually works best in the end for the film. As they truly become adversaries. He doesn't get as many laughs or seem to fit, but it is in itself a kind of happy accident.
As usual Jim Carrey plays his role over the top. Which he must here Because if he didn't the film and character would comedic as much scarier and realistic, Though less ridiculous.
This is also one of the first piece of work I noticed was written by Judd Apatow. Though I later found out he was also behind the kids film HEAVYWEIGHTS. Which I am a big fan of still to this day.
Although Judd Apatow only received a credit as producer he also was one of the film's writers. He was denied a screenwriting credit by the Writers Guild of America and challenged the ruling, claiming that he wrote much of the movie's dialogue and many of the scenes. The novelization restores his credit as writer of the film.
It has his usual insights of pop culture, but also having a more simple premise that stays within the main plot, but becomes so much more rich with a demented yet quirky inner life.
One of the first films I remember seeing that used pop culture references hardcore in it's plot and jokes. This came out around the same to me as CLERKS and PULP FICTION which seemed to popularize the trend at the time. As well as actor-director Ben Stiller's previous directorial debut REALITY BITES.
It's interesting of this films script was affected by CLERKS. As it seems Clerks director Kevin Smith's film ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO was influenced by Judd Apatow's (screenwriter of this film) comedy and films. That have a juvenile humor quotient though then ends up being more emotional and having more heart than the audience would think. As well as similar actors they usually populate Apatow's films. Especially star of that film Seth Rogen.
You can see the influence of both Ben Stiller and Judd Apatow as the cast in supporting and minor roles have actors who were previous cast members of their show THE BEN STILLER SHOW (that had recently been cancelled) as well as recognizable future comic superstars all their own. Plus actors who continue to run in their same circles.
The film was originally supposed to star Chris Farley. I can only imagine with David spade playing the Matthew Broderick role. That makes one wonder would it have been the same type of film. As dark or darker or more of a frat boy and physical comedy. As both Carrey and Farley have comedic gifts. They are both physical bit seem to work in different ways. This might have also been one of the first times where Farley would have been more required to act.
Supposedly, Originally Ben Stiller was set to play "The Cable Guy" however a week into filming, Stiller found it difficult to direct and act at the same time. So he decided to recast the role.
Every cast member of THE BEN STILLER SHOW appears on screen during the film at least once.
This hair feels like a film that has a longer cut that pushes the film over the top to maybe become more of a comedic masterpiece. As what is here is good, but feels too molded and not as loose as the film seems to suggest.
At an early stage of the project, some media announced that the cable guy would be in fact harassing a young woman instead of a man, implying a sexual motivation from the title character.
Intrestingly Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller and Jack Black all had the lead role in a Farrelly Brothers film: Carrey in DUMB & DUMBER, Stiller in THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and Black in SHALLOW HAL.
This was one of the first films the That made me realize my taste towards satire and especially dark comedy. Only previous example at the time that comes to mind might have been ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES and HEATHERS. Don't get me wrong this film very silly, but it also has a bit on an edge. That when it runs with it fires on all Pistons.
A big problem at the time was that this film never doubled down on it's dark premise. It was too light and goofy for those looking for darkness and too dark for those looking for purely goofiness. Especially as Jim Carrey at the time was staring in more cartoonish comedies as well as family friendly comedies and here the material was just as cartoonish yet dark. Though for some at the time saw this as him stretching.
I also applied the message in the end as it seems to convey the idea of picking books as a much more enriching endeavor over media entertainment. You might just learn something. As you can see with This film what might happen is you leave television to be the babysitter.
The film has plenty of comedic moments and Carrey throws himself over and over into the film full body, mind and soul. Some of the Cable Guy's predictions about what cable will do for the future came true. Like having the Internet, phone and TV through cable. And that we'll have the ability to play video games online.
Even the satire of the then relevant Melendez brothers murder trial is funny, though it seems. It more was a leftover sketch from THE BEN STILLER SHOW.
The scene at Medieval Times where Chip Douglas asks for Steven's chicken skin and then performs his The Silence of the Lambs impression was all improvised. During one take, Carrey asked for the chicken skin out of nowhere. After doing the "Silence of the Lambs" bit, director loved it and wanted to keep it in the film even though it wasn't in the script. If you look at Matthew Broderick's face during this scene, you can tell he is cracking up. His reaction is a genuine laugh
Sorry if I am ruining some of the film, but I has been in release so long it should be something you have seen before. It's an easy film to write off, but over the years has been a pleasure. It's not great but it is good. Though they did alter the original needing which was more bleak. The movie under performed at the box office, which was generally attributed to Jim Carrey deviating from his conventional physical comedy style in lieu of much darker comedy; a switch apparently not appreciated by most of his fans. When revenues were below predictions after the film's opening, the studio tried to shift the focus of advertising towards the more physical comedy elements, by changing the original poster (which showed Carrey demonically grinning at the audience) to a screen-shot from the more lighthearted brawl at Medieval Times. Unfortunately, the strategy did very little to improve the movie's box office. --This is also the film where Judd Apatow met his future wife, collaborator, muse Leslie Mann. Who seems like co-star in most of his films. Here she is cast as Broderick's girlfriend.
A scene from "Play Misty For Me" can be seen in the TV near there beginning of the movie, in which Clint Eastwood's character is stalked by a woman with mental health issues, obviously an influence on the plot of The Cable Guy.
During filming of the scene in which the Cable Guy plays basketball, it was discovered that Carrey could barely dribble a basketball, much less make a basket. Director had Carrey mime the action without a ball and visual effects technicians added the basketball in post-production.
You can even chalk this up as the first comedic collaboration of Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller --This is a film I still immensely enjoy and recommend it as part of your home film library.