Got a blender? Good! Pour in Divergent, The Matrix, George Orwell’s 1984, add a sprinkling of Logan’s Run and Harry Potter, and you have this movie based on the popular 1993 YA novel by Lois Lowry, who must’ve read 1984 and Divergent and thought, “Aw, hell, I can do that!”
(If this all sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it all before. Trust me). It’s a perfect Utopian society in the future where everyone dresses the same, never lies, there’s no rule breaking, and everyone takes their daily injections of meds to be at peace with each other. They call it Sameness. What a perfect, happy, and black and white world! Really, the movie is in black and white to prove their blandness. Oh, and did I mention EVERYTHING is caught on camera?
Enter our three best friends: Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), Fiona (Odeya Rush), and Asher (Cameron Monaghan). Upon leaving childhood at 16, they go to a sorting ceremony that will divide them into where they’re destined to be for their adult life. A gardener, a drone flyer, a Nurturer (works with babies), etc. This ceremony, presided over by The Chief Elder (Meryl Streep), sees that Jonas is special. He’s a Receiver of Memories. Whisked away, he’s given specialized training by The Giver (Jeff Bridges), a grizzled old man who, upon locking arms with Jonas, can mentally transfer all his memories, feelings, and even strengths into Jonas.
Jonas is exhilarated to feel and see things for the first time like snow, animals, music, love, dance, and even what a bee sting feels like, since all these things are missing in this climate controlled world of his. He even sees in color now (as the film switches to color). Meanwhile, a new baby named Gabriel is born with future Receiver of Memories markings on him. Will he be accepted?
As he learns more and feels more (even the pain of war and death) he tries to coerce Fiona to stop taking her daily meds, which she does, and she starts to become “aware” of things around her and now has feelings for Jonas that she never knew before. Jonas asks the Giver why everyone can’t feel like this? Aye, there’s the rub! Nobody can, unless… Drawn on a hidden map, if Jonas can enter the forbidden Elsewhere (a strange land beyond their Utopian society) and cross the unmarked Memory Border, it’ll trigger a chain reaction and set free everyone’s memory! How? Don’t ask, it just does!
Jonas decides to do this, is classified as dangerous, takes baby Gabriel with him, and sets out to free everyone’s mind (sorry, no blue or red pills) by doing the impossible and trying to find the mysterious Memory Border. Will he find it in time before they “release” (their name for “kill”) Fiona? Will Meryl Streep find a better wig to wear? And what’s up with Taylor Swift making a cameo as piano instructor?
I never read the books, but I assume they’re better. Directed by Philip Noyce, it’s looks like the same ‘ol, same ‘ol sci-fi movie you’ve seen again and again, because it IS the same ‘ol, same ‘ol sci-fi movie you’ve seen again and again, only this has been re-packaged and had a “new and improved” label thrown on it. Screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert Weide had to alter the characters to attract the tween audience, so they changed Jonas from a 12-year-old (in the book) to 16. Can you imagine a 12-year-old wanting to kiss a girl? Eeuuwww! Plus, you have so many obvious gaping plot holes throughout the script you can drive one of their funky white bicycles through it.
Anyway, newcomer Australian Thwaites shows some nice acting here, but the rest of the cast just looks bored. Even veterans Streep and Bridges just walked through their roles with nary a glance. Then there’s that plot! That done-to-death plot that you can’t DO anything with because it’s already been done! Surely they knew this going into production, didn’t they? The ending is especially bad as you never know what happens and there’s been no report on a part two or three! WTH? I read the book’s ending on Wikipedia and THAT didn’t even help! Geez, Louise!
There’s an old saying, “Never dress up a pig. It wastes your time and generally annoys the pig. And in the end, it’s still a pig”.
The Truman Show 1998
What if everything you’ve ever believed was all a lie? Oh sure, you had the Giver that could tell you the truth, but at least the whole world wasn’t watching you! In his first dramatic role, Jim Carrey cemented his career as both a comedic and dramatic actor. And what a movie to pull it off!
Truman Burbank (Carrey) is a gigantic world-wide TV star, but he doesn’t even know it. He’s never known it, because ever since he’s been a baby his life has been telecast 24/7/365, thanks to the show’s creator and executive producer, Christof (Ed Harris). Truman grows up in Seahaven, a fictional town that is really a complete set built under a ginormous dome. There’s even a beach and an ocean! Cameras are placed everywhere as to video everything Truman does or says and his “family” and friends are all played by actors as viewers tune in to see his day to day life. . . complete with product placement! Everything is controlled including sunrises, sunsets, climate, and when the townspeople are told to go to work.
The show is a ratings bonanza with no end in sight, especially with unexpected things happening like Truman falling in love with an extra, Sylvia (Natascha McElhone), even though he’s married to Meryl (Laura Linney). Though Sylvia is quickly fired from the show, Truman continues to secretly pine for her.
But then in his 30th year, he begins to question his own reality: a theatrical light falls from the sky, his car radio picks up a radio voice that tracks his movements, certain people are appearing in the same places at the same time each day, and Meryl’s bizarre tendency to blatantly advertise the products she buys. (Great scene!)
Truman, suspicions growing about the world around him and his so-called friends, decides to leave and, despite formidable obstacles thrown in his ways to stop him, he finally does on the show’s “final telecast” and learns the truth about himself, his life, and what’s in store for him beyond his own world.
Based on the 1989 Twilight Zone episode called Special Services, this wickedly brilliant movie written by Andrew Nicol and directed by Peter Weir proved to be a sensation. Besides making a mint at the box office and garnishing multiple awards, it proved Carrey was an actor, not just a goofy comedian that could make faces. It’s no secret that since this was Carrey’s first dramatic role, he wanted creative control over his character (even accepting scale pay) and this frequently made he and Weir less than friends on the set. Either way, it’s one of Carrey’s monster hit movies and is a joy to watch.