Film: The Cable Guy

"I can be your best friend, or your worst enemy."
Chip Douglas, The Cable Guy

The Cable Guy is a Black Comedy film starring Jim Carrey, and Matthew Broderick directed by Ben Stiller.

After his girlfriend flips out and gives him the boot, Steven Kovacs (Matthew Broderick) gets the very last thing he needed to fill the new void: an incredibly bizarre cable installer named Chip (Jim Carrey) who latches on and insinuates himself into Steven's life. To his credit, Chip does lots of favors for Steven, up to and including helping him win back his girlfriend Robin Harris (Leslie Mann), but his odd, off-putting and sometimes illicit behavior (including buying Steven a prostitute and then making it up to him by beating the crap out of Robin's date, and later getting him an overelaborate entertainment system via "connections"... which ends up being stolen) proves too much to take and Steven eventually has to tell him to take a hike. Things quickly turn sour after that, and Steven finds out just how weird his "pal" really is when Chip begins stalking him and pulling various strings to try and ruin his life.

When it was released, the big news around the film was that Carrey got himself a big payday ($20 million!) for his role in the movie. Today, it's incorrectly remembered as a flop. While it wasn't the home run the studio was likely expecting, it did make back its budget and, after worldwide receipts were added in, made over $100 million. And it's also picked up something of a following.

Has nothing to do with Larry The Cable Guy.

Tropes included:

  • Anti-Villain: Chip is a creepy obsessive stalker, but only because he's really lonely.
  • Aside Glance: Chip at the end of the film.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Loneliness has not been good for Chip's mental health.
  • Freudian Excuse: Chip's mother was so neglectful that he was practically raised by television.
  • Heel Realization: At the film's climax, Chip argues with his dead mother. He comes to the conclusion that lack of human interaction has turned him into a maladjusted lunatic, but there is still time to keep the rest of the world from ending up as he did. He throws himself onto a powerful satellite dish, which cuts off everyone's cable and forces them to read books.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In the Medieval Times scene.
    Steven: Can I get a knife?
    Melinda: There were no utensils in medieval times, hence there are no utensils at Medieval Times. Now, would you like a refill on that Pepsi?
    Melinda: Dude, I've got a lot of tables.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Chip's driving motivation.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Chip decides he's going to free the town from the grip of TV by jumping into the satellite dish and impaling himself on the central antenna. Subverted in that he misses the antenna and hits the bottom of the dish, survives the fall, and is disappointed when he sees the antenna next to him.
  • Kubrick Stare: The poster.
  • Large Ham: Chip, though it's no surprise since he's played by Jim Carrey.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In addition to referencing the climax's similarity to Golden Eye (see Made of Iron, below), Chip has the odd habit of humming musical scores as if he were in a movie, illustrating his loose grip on reality. The score in the background likes to go along with it.
    Chip: You know what sucks about real life? There's no danger music! Dada da dum...
  • Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: This is deconstructed here. Early on, Chip helps Steven loosen up more by taking him to Medieval Times and throwing a karaoke party. Eventually, Steven learns that Chip isn't just wacky, he's downright dangerous and clingy.
  • Made of Iron: Chip, apparently, since he survives a drop over the tower above the satellite dish onto the dish itself, flipping twice in mid air and landing on his back, just inches away from the needle protruding from the dish. He does break his back, however, although the fall would likely kill or at least mortally cripple someone in real life. Oddly enough, this element seems like a parody of Golden Eye as well, as the guy who fell in that movie didn't die from the fall, either.
  • Old Media Are Evil: The film is crawling with paranoia about mass media, and its simultaneously invasive and alienating effects on people's lives.
  • One-Book Author: This is Lou Holtz Jr.'s only screenwriting credit, but his original script was heavily rewritten by Judd Apatow (who was denied credit by the Writer's Guild).
  • Prison Rape: Based on their come-on lines to Stephen, it's implied the other prisoners want to do this.
  • Reference Overdosed: Considering that one of the main characters is a guy who's profession it is to install a source of entertainment, it's no surprise that there's an inordinate amount of TV show and movie name-dropping, but this one is unique in that it's actually a plot point.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: For a guy desperate for friendship, Chip has a lot of people at his disposal. Free cable installation is one hell of an ice breaker.
  • Shout-Out: The movie references several movies and shows, such as Waterworld and Star Trek.
    • During Steven's nightmare, when Chip breaks the door down, his eyes became green ala The Incredible Hulk.