Jim Carrey can stretch his face from here to Kalamazoo, but can he stretch as an actor? More important, does anyone want to see that? His upcoming The Truman Show is getting good industry buzz, but the Paramount film — a quirky comedy about a subdued insurance salesman who doesn’t know that his entire life is a popular 24-hour TV program — doesn’t contain a single talking butt. Which raises the question, How do you sell a good, but not-so-wacky, Carrey movie?
”The problem is The Cable Guy,” one industry marketing VP says of the ink-dark comedy that earned a disappointing (by Carrey standards) $60 million. ”The word departure is going to be linked to that movie until the cows come home.” Adds a veteran studio marketer: Cable Guy ”was sold as ‘Come see the other side of Jim Carrey,’ and that didn’t work.”
Fans, however, may be more prepared the second time around. At a recent test screening in Los Angeles, Truman got a thumbs-up from the audience, though one attendee reports hearing moments of unintentional laughter: Apparently, even Carrey’s ”serious” expressions are a little over-the-top.
While Paramount isn’t discussing its marketing strategy, the studio has pushed the film from a possible Thanksgiving opening to the less-competitive Presidents’ Day weekend in February because it wasn’t going to be ready in time. Truman’s producers, however, aren’t backing down from their non-antic-Carrey premise. ”Our movie can stand on its own,” says executive producer Edward Feldman. ”Jim Carrey is in the league of Tom Hanks, and the movie has the feeling of Forrest Gump.”