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YMMV / The Truman Show

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Louis/Marlon just another one of Truman's captors, or does he - in stark contrast to his fellow actors - genuinely care about Truman and want to help him? While the movie provides little in the way of background for Louis and sheds no light on his motivations, his actor has suggested that Louis is deeply conflicted about what he's being asked to do and, as a result, suffers from substance abuse issues. Deleted scenes that show Louis reacting with slight bitterness to Christof's proposals for a 'spin-off' focusing on Truman's son ("So when Truman dies, we go back to the single-channel format, right?") and looking the other way for Truman after stumbling across him during his escape muddies the water further.
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    • In the scene in which Truman is baring his heart to Marlon on the bridge and he begins to cry, is he crying at the words of support Marlon is telling him, or is he crying because he's already seen through the charade and now he knows that even his best friend is in on it?
    • There's a theory going around that Simeon (the TV engineer played by Paul Giamatti) is a deep-cover mole for the Free Truman Movement, and that he purposely did the things that made Truman start questioning his reality (the light falling, the rain mishap, the wonky radio transmission, his father suddenly appearing) so Truman could figure out what was going on and leave by his own free will. The fact that Simeon was goofing off in the Director's chair reading a newspaper before Christof came in at the start of the third act under the guise of letting his apprentice get some hands-on experience with the cameras and he didn't wake up Christof to tell him that Truman now was sleeping in the basement despite his direct orders to tell him immediately of unpredictable behavior adds to the theory.
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  • Angst? What Angst?: Truman spends much of the movie impacted by aquaphobia. In the third act, his last attempted escape is on a sailboat, over the "ocean." Truman got awfully brave pretty quick, given that this movie ostensibly takes place over the course of several days. Possibly justified, since by that point he'd seen through the charade and decided it was his only way out and the lesser of two evils. This is also after he'd realized that his "father's" death by drowning (the source of his fear) was faked.
  • Award Snub: After winning a Golden Globe for this film, it was assumed that Jim Carrey would at least get an Oscar nomination, but he didn't. Amazingly, it happened again the very next year, making one wonder what it will take for him to get some Academy love.
    • Just to put this in perspective, winning the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama is a virtual guarantee of an Oscar nomination at the very least. Carrey was only the fourth man it didn't happen for, and the last time it happened prior to him was in 1965. He was also the last such snubee, indicating that the Academy really just didn't want to nominate him.
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    • The film itself was one of the most acclaimed of 1998, yet failed to receive a Best Picture nom, despite getting nods for Peter Weir's Direction and for the Script.
    • Some see Ed Harris' Best Supporting Actor loss as this, although losing to the great James Coburn softens the blow.
    • Jim Carrey has become an almost archetypal example of a comedic actor who cannot get credit for his dramatic abilities, with this movie being the single biggest reason.
  • Awesome Music: all of it, though Father Kolbe's Preaching is a particularly good one.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Jim Carrey (Truman) and Noah Emmerich (Louis/Marlon) met on the set of this film and went on to become good friends in Real Life - just like their characters. In fact, Carrey has even described Emmerich as his best friend. What makes this extra heartwarming is that Emmerich's character was the only actor on the show (other than Lauren/Sylvia) who did genuinely come to care for Truman - their friendship was one of the few things in Seahaven that was real.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • He Really Can Act: Jim Carrey really spread his wings here and showed he could do more than just "zany". In fact, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert publicly apologized to Carrey on their show for saying that he would never have a career when Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was panned, although the latter had already turned the corner with Carrey with positive reviews for The Mask and Liar Liar.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Meryl, Truman's wife. True, she's in on the secret and keeps deceiving Truman even when it's clear she's on the verge of a breakdown, but when you consider her Stepford Smiler personality, her backstory detailed in the script (she took the job so she wouldn't lose her acting career altogether, being a Former Child Star), and the fact that her job involves living with, being married to, and having sex with a man she doesn't love (and who doesn't love her, as everyone's aware that he pines for Sylvia, to the point of creating a collage of her on the back of a photo of Meryl), it's hard not to feel a little sorry for her. Not to mention, she's so clearly terrified when Truman threatens her in the kitchen, and breaks down sobbing when Marlon shows up to rescue her.
  • Love to Hate: Meryl, mainly due to her feigning her relationship with Truman (even if she is just doing her job). It's part of why the whole "I'm being spontaneous" and "do something!" scenes are so satisfying to watch.
    • Christof, who may be reprehensible, but many still find him an example of Evil Is Cool due to how effectively creepy he is.
  • Memetic Mutation: Truman's "What the hell are you talking about?" in response to his wife's blatant Product Placement about chocolate milk is a popular gif on message boards.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Depending on who you ask, Christof had his when he had the idea for the show, when he faked the death of Truman's father in order to give the poor kid a crippling phobia about water, or when he capsized his boat and tried to drown him. One line stands out as particularly cold:
    Producer: For God's sake, Chris! The whole world is watching. We can't have him die in front of a live audience!
    Christof: He was born in front of a live audience.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • While the scene is intended to be darkly humorous, Truman getting angry at his wife as she spouts Product Placement, temporarily going mad, taking his fictional "wife" hostage and threatening to slit her throat on camera, leaving her a sobbing wreck, is pretty hard to watch.
    • When Truman nearly drowns while trying to escape.
    • Christof is nightmare fuel unto himself, simply for how much power he wields over an entire human life. What really makes him chilling is that, despite the fact that he's mindful of the ratings, he's not Only in It for the Money at all - he's really an absurdly overprotective father figure, who is obsessed with keeping Truman "pure" and is willing to go to sociopathic and even homicidal lengths to preserve this.
  • Older Than They Think: Believe it or not, the plot of The Truman Show is borrowed from the Amazing Stories episode, "Secret Cinema".
  • Paranoia Fuel: Particularly bad is when we see Truman's best friend, someone he has known since school, manipulating him and being fed lines by the director. Then there's the part where he's looking for Truman and has childish "hide-and-seek" lines delivered in sinister fashion.
    • More broadly, the fact that if you've seen this movie, you will wonder if your life could be a similar scenario for at least a passing moment, here and there.
    • The Truman Show delusion is a documented psychiatric condition, often afflicting those with schizophrenia. It is so-called because many who report the delusion specifically relate their lives to the film. This is different from gangstalking, where people think someone is monitoring their lives on hidden cameras (and sometimes, they are right).
  • Retroactive Recognition: Paul Giamatti as one of the studio techs. Peter Krause is Truman's boss.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Specifically, the scene on the bridge with Truman and Marlon, after Truman and Meryl have their big falling-out. Once you know where the proceedings go from here, you can see exactly when Truman realizes that Marlon, his last ally, isn't going to help him, and he has to figure this all out by himself. And it adds an extra layer of sadness to the subsequent "reunion" with his "father."
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: In a very real way, if you take the premise of the show to its' logical conclusion. Since the town is his prison, and the whole purpose of the show is to keep him there so the show never ends, then most if not all of the other characters in the show are just as trapped as Truman is. Meryl can't really leave or take a vacation, because how does she do so without Truman being eager to come with her? She probably has family in the real world she can't see, because all her time is to be spent with Truman. There's no going home for the holidays or anything like that for her, because the town isn't her home, it's her job, and whatever home she does have she can't visit. When she's away from Truman at her hospital "job", she probably sits around with the other actors going over their lines and any upcoming plot developments. She took the job hoping to become a a famous actress, and yes she's famous, but she can't take any other role, isn't really talented to begin with, and the stress is driving her insane. Marlon always has to be available to be Truman's friend and to show up with that six-pack of beer if things get too tense and Truman needs to be distracted. So he's trapped as well. The people Truman runs into every day have to be there every day. Background characters who are never in focus and don't have lines can be easily swapped out, but that doesn't help the main characters. Sure, they can be written off the show, but that means losing their livelihood and maybe not being able to find another job.
  • The Scrappy: Aside from Marlon (if deleted scenes are taken into account) and Cristof, everyone in the fictional town. The fact that they don't care for him at all and seem to focus more on the fact they get paid and pretend to simply care for Truman and his well being really does bother some viewers. His "parents" seem to be a big example of this, as does "Meryl".
  • Song Association: People who saw the film's trailer in heavy rotation might never be able to listen to Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" without thinking of Truman's meticulously controlled artificial life.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Sylvia is (as far as we know) the only person who has a problem with what Cristof is doing to Truman. This gives her a unique relationship to Truman (given that apparently no one else is like this) with a lot of material for a great character, but she hardly has a presence in the film.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Sylvia's apartment shows hints that there are activist groups in existence that want to free Truman. While the normal viewers are happy to see him escape, any actual activist groups trying to free him, maybe even infiltrating the show as part of this, are never brought up beyond the Sylvia scene.
  • Values Resonance: There was a time when this movie's premise seemed outlandish. Now, with webcams and Reality TV, it seems much more plausible.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Though in a different way than you'd normally expect. Truman is essentially an effects-less film, but dozens of little touches exist throughout, most notably the subtle altering of a skyline to make it match the Geodome's shape. Everything looks so right that you wouldn't notice it until you were looking for it.
  • What an Idiot!: Meryl, deciding to do a Product Placement while Truman is clearly starting to catch on to the masquerade and is having breakdown as a result. Made worse when she continues to do so even when Truman calls her out on it. Then again, that could be a case of a "Stick to the script or else" directive; later on, when Marlon breaks the fourth wall ("He's gone!"), Christof shits a brick and kills the feed.
  • The Woobie: Truman. By the end, he's an Iron Woobie.


Example of: