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USA 1996
Directed by
Ben Stiller
94 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

The Cable Guy

Ben Stiller is a success in the mainstream as a comic actor yet retains a decidedly offbeat perspective. This energetic film well displays the combination of the two sensibilities, using the format of a mainstream comedy to tell what is an essentially tragic story of a stalker and giving it a blackly humorous treatment. Jim Carrey's over-the-top performance leaves one unsure whether the character he plays is supposed to be so odd or whether the actor has exaggerated his oddities beyond all boundaries of human behaviour whilst Matthew Broderick is perfect doing what he does best, being the straight guy trying to navigate this treacherous ground.

In the familiar style of American film, the elements of social commentary on the effects of television on human affections and sanity are anything but subtle (take for instance the character who picks up a book once he loses his cable connection) and in case you've been living under a stone, that's Stiller as Sam and Stan Sweet, the twin brothers whose murder trial appears on cable periodically whilst Eric Roberts plays the Sweet brothers in an upcoming film about the murders). With its mix of dark humour and unsettling behaviour, unsurprisingly, this did not do well at the box office but if you like your humour on the distaff side of things it may please.

FYI: One of the clips seen on Steven’s television is from one of the best-known of all stalker films – Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me (1971). The film also features an early big screen appearance by Jack Black.




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