Jim Carrey plays his signature loud, manic self as the somewhat likable but deranged Ernie "Chip" Douglas in the 1996 cult film 'The Cable Guy.' Despite being his usual one-dimensional persona, his customary antics and irritable tomfoolery actually work in this wacky brew of creepiness and hilarity. Since the eccentric cable installer is meant to be seen as a really weird dude with a very odd speech impediment, it's to Carrey's advantage, because there's honestly no one better at being freakishly abnormal. Especially when a camera is pointed right at them. Still, the 'In Living Color' alum is eerie in his portrayal of a TV obsessed loon who only wants to be best buds.
The always affable and mild-mannered Matthew Broderick is there to sort of ground the insanity, but he spends most of his time trying to keep up with Carrey's frenzied pace. As the recently-dumped and reserved Steven Kovacs, Broderick can be just as oddly entertaining as Chip, but acts uncomfortably stiff around Carrey, like he's unsure whether he should be equally goofy. Then again, the real problem could be with the character — a little whiner who can't, for some unknown reason, say no to his stalker. Even when Chip crashes a family dinner, Steven fails to see it as the opportune time to explain that Chip's the reason for his incarceration!
Jack Black joins the cast and goes against type by actually acting. He plays Steven's only friend Rick, and has a few moments of increasing jealousy which show potential at a good story but are never taken to fruition. It would have been interesting to see Black's loud-mouth antics go toe-to-toe with Carrey's — a true clash of the titans where the two battle for who can be more obnoxious for cheap laughs. But right now, we watch a heated contest of who plays a better background prop, Black or Leslie Mann, as Steven's girlfriend.
Admittedly, 'The Cable Guy' is a bit of a guilty pleasure, offering the occasional guffaw here and there. Despite its flaw in logic, that same dinner party mentioned is good for a chuckle when everyone plays "Porno Password." The highlight is, of course, the sequence at Medieval Times restaurant when Chip and Steven battle it out as knights. I'm not sure why, but I enjoy that scene, especially when Carrey loudly hums the music from episode 30 of Star Trek, "Amok Time." (You don't have to say it. I already feel like the biggest nerd ever for knowing that.) Then there's the 'Midnight Express' reference that always makes me laugh, along with various other classic TV and movie references throughout.
The bizarre dark comedy, from a script by Lou Holtz Jr. and re-written by an uncredited Judd Apatow, essentially combines the unsettledness of 'Single White Female,' 'Fatal Attraction' and 'Play Misty for Me' — which actually makes a cameo appearance — with the zaniness of the buddy film. Ben Stiller, who also makes an appearance in a courtroom drama that calls to mind the Menendez trial, displays some talent behind the camera and pushes the movie to some fairly nightmarish segments. In the end, 'The Cable Guy' is not quite the laugh-riot it desperately wants to be, but it has its moments of wicked joviality, thanks mostly to Carrey playing his usual raucous shtick.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment celebrates 'The Cable Guy' on Blu-ray with this 15th Anniversary Edition of the Ben Stiller comedy. The Region Free, BD50 disc comes in a blue eco-vortex case. Once in the player, viewers are greeted with a promo for Sony Blu-ray products and a skippable preview for 'The Green Hornet.' Afterwards, the standard menu selection with full-motion clips of the movie fills the screen.
'The Cable Guy' pesters Blu-ray with a strong 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.40:1) that feels fresh and newly remastered, but doesn't quite compare to the high-standards seen in other, sometimes older, catalog titles.
The transfer shows great definition in clothing, architectural details, and minor background objects throughout Steven's apartment. Fine lines and textures are resolute and distinct in the healthy facial complexions of actors, especially in close-ups. A few scenes are noticeably softer than the rest, with a slight drop in resolution, bringing the entire presentation down a notch. Black levels are inky, deep, and penetrating, giving the image appreciable depth and a nice cinematic quality. Delineation is equally attractive, revealing plenty of small details within the overbearing shadows. Contrast is crisp and comfortably bright, but highlights tend to look a bit blown out and overexposed — a very negligible nuisance. Colors are bold and cleanly rendered, but they also appear somewhat artificial and overstated.
Still, none of this overly distracting, and the overall video looks very good on Blu-ray.
Accompanying the transfer is a very enjoyable DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
The design is put to great comedic effect, taking advantage of the wide openness of the front soundstage. Channel separation is well-balanced with accurate off-screen effects, and vocals are highly intelligible, making clear the nuance in Carrey's performance and the signature speech-impediment of Chip Douglas. Dynamics are sharply rendered and expansive, with good room-penetrating clarity, while a responsive low end delivers a powerful oomph to those scenes requiring some depth. Aside from a few atmospherics, particularly the sequence at Medieval Times, and later during a thunderstorm, rear activity is reserved for music and song selections, nicely expanding the soundfield and surrounding the listener.
This lossless mix isn't exactly blow-your-socks-off caliber, but for its genre, it's very entertaining and a great listen on Blu-ray.
When the movie first hit DVD in 1997, it was a bare-bones release. Fifteen years later, Sony rectifies that mistake with a loaded set of bonus features, made special for the movie's 15th anniversary and available only for HD owners. See below.
Fifteen years ago, at the height of his popularity, Jim Carrey went to the dark side with the cult favorite 'The Cable Guy.' Directed by Ben Stiller, the black comedy is a strange and amusing trip through obsessive bromance desires and the consequences of slipping the cable guy an extra $50 bucks. It also stars Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann, and Jack Black, all overshadowed by the loud, physical antics of Carrey. The Blu-ray arrives as a 15th Anniversary Edition. It features a strong picture, enjoyable audio, and an exclusive set of bonus features, making this a great package for fans. Everyone else give it a look for a decent night of dark comedy.