The Cable Guy (1996) starring Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann, Jack Black, George Segal, Ben Stiller, Eric Roberts, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick directed by Ben Stiller Movie Review

The Cable Guy (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Matthew Broderick as Steven M. Kovacs in The Cable Guy

Proof that too much Cable can be bad

Having hit his stride and made his name with comedies such as "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective ", "The Mask" and even "Dumb and Dumber" it seemed like rubber faced Canadian Jim Carrey could barely put a foot wrong. Well that is until he became the highest paid comedian and took $20 million for "The Cable Guy" a movie which for me seems confused, confused in what it is trying to be.

After being booted out by his girlfriend, Steven Kovak (Matthew Broderick - The Freshman) has moved into his own apartment and to get illegal cable he befriends a TV obsessed cable guy called Chip (Jim Carrey - Yes Man). But Chip becomes obsessed with Steven as he believes they are now best friends and slowly starts to control his life. When Steven realises that Chip is becoming dangerous and manipulative he has to find a way to stop him before it becomes too late.

Jim Carrey as Chip The Cable Guy

"The Cable Guy" tries to be a black comedy revolving around a rather peculiar stalker style storyline which is more suited to the work of thrillers yet it is laced with outrageous comedy moments much of which centre around the over top antics of Jim Carrey. It just doesn't really work because the storyline doesn't suit the obvious over the top gagging of Carrey, causing it to end up like a "look at me" movie. If there was a more subtle comedy performance, one which managed to deliver funny mixed with sinister, then "The Cable Guy" could have been a different story.

And it is a shame as the writing is quite good, a lonely man who over the years has become so addicted to TV that he lives in a sort of fantasy world where he quotes TV shows and movies like it was scripture, desperate to find a friend. It is very much the perfect idea for a clever stalker movie with all the movie quotes providing plenty of amusement for the movie and TV fans who pick up on the subtle and not so subtle in jokes. It even manages to craft a storyline with a sort of thrilling ending, with the lonely cable guy's manipulation of Steven's life reaching a peak as it becomes life threatening.

But then the comedy sort of spoils "The Cable Guy", with Carrey going all out with his over the top theatrics to try and make us laugh and possibly warrant the then huge pay cheque. There will be some which find all the face pulling, the gentle lisp, the comic manipulation and attempts to be humorously sinister in a pantomime sort of way much fun but for me it doesn't work in what should be a darker movie. It ends up jarring with the storyline as Carrey takes centre stage but then by the end it just ends up grating. Some of the criticism could be thrown at director Ben Stiller for not restraining Carrey and his over the top humour because it feels like he just let Carrey do what he liked.

Aside from Jim Carrey well the rest of the cast end up feeling sidelined even Matthew Broderick who as the unfortunate victim of Chips over friendliness being nothing more than a stooge for the comedy. Not that Broderick does much wrong, he comes over as likable and delivers those moments of confusion as he realises that the cable guy is taking over his life, but it's a 2 dimensional character. Elsewhere there are numerous cameos with the likes of Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Leslie Mann, David Cross, Andy Dick, Eric Roberts and even George Segal all taking on minor roles. Except other than the delightful Leslie Mann who plays the soft and cute Robin Harris none of them really leaves their mark.

What this all boils down to is that "The Cable Guy" is a movie which splits me. I like the idea and the way the storyline is developed as it tries to be a dark comedy on a concept usually left for psychological thrillers. But then the over the top comedy of Jim Carrey ends up spoiling things. There is no doubt that Carrey is a very funny guy with his theatrical gurning and limb waving but for me he's to over the top causing "The Cable Guy" to jar.