RvReprieve: The Cable Guy
It’s reprievin’ time again. In this edition, Ross McG urges you to dispel your comedic prejudices and recognise The Cable Guy for the brilliant show that nobody realised it was. Warning to Ross McD: this blog post contains traces of Matthew Broderick…
Maybe it was the lisp. Maybe it was the darkness behind almost every gag. Maybe it was Matthew bleedin’ Broderick. Whatever it was that turned you off The Cable Guy, it’s time to switch yourself back on to it. This is a comedy that is already ageing magnificently, simply because there was nothing quite like it at the time. Ben Stiller’s film was panned by critics and audiences alike on its release in 1996. Those hoping to see a simple buddy comedy were thrown by its innate creepiness. Jim Carrey fans expecting 90 minutes of mere gurning were put off by, uh, the innate creepiness.
There is something about The Cable Guy that just crawls right under your skin. If the Farrelly brothers ever remake Single White Female it could end up looking something like this. Matthew Broderick is Steven, an ordinary guy who comes across Chip Douglas/Ricky Ricardo/Larry Tate (Carrey) when the latter installs his cable.
From there it’s a stalkomedy of the highest order, as uncomfortable as watching your uncle dance at a wedding yet just as hilarious. The performances are all spot on. People talk a lot about the gap between Carrey’s so-called ‘funny’ roles and his ‘serious’ roles, but what you forget is how superb an actor he is when doing the very difficult job of comedy. Is his best performance to date really The Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind? Not if you’ve had the fortune to sit through Me, Myself & Irene or Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events. While he may not reach the heights of those last two movies in The Cable Guy, it’s still one of his greatest displays. Pitiful and frightening at the same time, Chip/Ricky could walk into any stalker thriller with ease.
Broderick does the job of put-upon everyman well and there are nice minor turns from Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Leslie Mann and Eric Roberts as Eric Roberts. It’s Carrey’s show, however, and he launches himself into the set-pieces with great gusto. The fight at the medieval restaurant is brilliant, as is the basketball game, while the karaoke sequence is the perfect exponent of the film’s mantra – toe-curlingly creepy meets outrageously funny. The film also has some great lines: ‘Dry land is not a myth. I’ve seen it. Kevin Costner. Waterworld. I don’t know what the big fuss is about. I saw that movie nine times. It rules!’ / ‘What a place for an ending, huh? It’s like that movie GoldenEye!’ / ‘Hold on, I gotta warm up. I don’t wanna pull a hammy.’ / ‘You know what the trouble about real life is? There’s no danger music.’
It also predicted the future – just read this quote: ‘Soon every American home will integrate their television, phone and computer. You’ll be able to visit the Louvre on one channel, or watch female wrestling on another. You can do your shopping at home, or play Mortal Kombat with a friend from Vietnam. There’s no end to the possibilities!’
Not only does The Cable Guy deserve a reprieve, it deserves to be held up as one of the most original comedies of the 90s.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? DOES THE CABLE GUY DESERVE A REPRIEVE?