“The Cable Guy” Unplugged

With the exception of a few successful films that follow this format — Pulp Fiction, American Psycho, Fargo — audiences are usually not accustomed to films that can potentially alienate, confuse, and frustrate their movie going experience. And here lies one of the many problems of The Cable Guy, an unexpected film that was released at the pinnacle of Jim Carrey’s acting career. It is perhaps one of Jim Carrey’s most polarizing films due to its blatant flirtation with solemn subjects and comedy.

The Plot

The premise of The Cable Guy is simple enough: a lonely cable guy, Ernie “Chip” Douglas (Carrey), raised “literally” in front of a television set, meets a new friend Steven Kovacs (Matthew Broderick), that ultimately ends up rejecting him, leading to bad consequences.

The story starts off at a fast pace as we are quickly introduced to Steven, who has recently agreed to move away from his girlfriend Robin Harris (Leslie Mann), after she rejects his marriage proposal. Steven moves into a new apartment and while sharing a brief conversation with his friend Rick (played by a subdued Jack Black at the time), Steven is sparked with the idea to bribe the cable guy for cheaper cable. As soon as Chip agrees to Steven’s request, he decides to make him a “preferred customer”, and that’s when the story kicks off into a promising comedic Jim Carrey vehicle.

Lack of Focus

After this introductory scene takes place, the wheels pretty much fall off the wagon. Director Ben Stiller shamelessly plugs himself into the movie by creating a useless subplot regarding a highly publicized “child star” murder case (The child star “twins” are portrayed by Stiller himself). Although the subplot was implemented to provide some sort of comedic relief for the audience, it fails to offer any intrinsic value to the story, and ultimately brings the plot to a screeching dead halt.

In fact, most of the problems encountered within The Cable Guy have to do with the lack of focus provided to the story. A large amount of the film feels almost episodic in nature, with minimal strings plotting the story toward its awkward finale. The movie loves to lose itself in sequences that simply drag on for too long while failing to move the basic plot forward (The Basketball Incident, Medieval Times, The Karaoke Party, The Bathroom Beating, Porno Password Game). Ironically, the film has developed a strong cult following largely due to these particular scenes.

Separating the Boys from the Men

Although Carrey shines in most of his scenes, sometimes it is evident that he’s simply trying too hard to provide the laughs. This is mostly due to Matthew Broderick’s wooden performance. It almost seems as if Carrey is overcompensating for Broderick’s shortcomings. Broderick simply doesn’t have the acting chops to keep up with Carrey’s witty pace.

The Verdict

Instead of opting for a potentially hilarious, fast paced story, Ben Stiller and writer Lou Holtz Jr. took the reins of the tale into a much darker territory. A territory that Carrey fans were not accustomed to explore at the time of the film’s release. The Cable Guy is pretty much summed up during the last minutes of the movie when Chip explains his psychological state of mind to Steven, “I don’t really have a plan and such. I’m pretty much going moment to moment right now. Winging it, really.” Interestingly enough, that is exactly how the movie plays out.


Brent Mannigan is a freelance writer based in the greater metro area of Dallas, Texas. Those who are interested in obtaining the services of a real repair company should contact Carrollton ac repair.

JR Olson
J. Rex Olson is a freelance writer based in the greater metropolitan area of Seattle. He enjoys writing for the sake of writing, and likes to contribute material on a wide range of topics and issues. When not writing he loves playing basketball and taking in a symphony.

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