The Majestic (film)

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The Majestic
The Majestic poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Darabont
Written byMichael Sloane
Produced byFrank Darabont
CinematographyDavid Tattersall
Edited byJim Page
Music byMark Isham
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • December 21, 2001 (2001-12-21) (United States)
Running time
152 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$72 million[2]
Box office$37.3 million[2]

The Majestic is a 2001 American historical romance film directed and produced by Frank Darabont, written by Michael Sloane, and starring Jim Carrey in the title role. The film also features Bob Balaban, Brent Briscoe, Jeffrey DeMunn, Amanda Detmer, Allen Garfield, Hal Holbrook, Laurie Holden, Martin Landau, Ron Rifkin, David Ogden Stiers, and James Whitmore. The film depicts a 1951 Hollywood screenwriter suspected of being a communist. After suffering amnesia as the result of a road traffic collision, he is taken in by the locals of a small town, who mistake him as a local resident who went MIA while serving in the military during World War II.

Filmed in Ferndale, California,[3] it premiered on December 11, 2001, and was released in the United States on December 21, 2001.

Jim Carrey's performance in The Majestic was a departure from his previous work, which until then had mostly been comedy films. The film was poorly received from critics and grossed $37 million worldwide against a budget of $72 million, losing an estimated $49 million.[4] The film was released in the United Kingdom on May 24, 2002, and failed to reach the Top 10.[5]


In 1951, in the midst of the Second Red Scare, Peter Appleton is an up-and-coming young screenwriter in Hollywood. He learns from studio lawyer Leo Kubelsky and his own attorney Kevin Bannerman that he has been accused of being a communist, because he attended an antiwar meeting in his college years, a meeting he claims he only attended to impress a girl.

In an instant, Peter's new film, Ashes to Ashes, is pushed back for a few months, the credit is given to someone else, his movie star girlfriend Sandra Sinclair leaves him, and his contract with the studio is dropped. Peter gets drunk and goes for a drive up the coast, where he accidentally drives his car off a bridge to avoid an opossum.

He comes to on an ocean beach, experiencing amnesia. Peter is found by Stan Keller, who helps him to the nearby town of Lawson, California, and the local doctor, Doc Stanton, tends to his wounds. As the town welcomes him, Harry Trimble arrives and believes Peter to be his son Luke, who went MIA during World War II nine years ago. Due to his amnesia, Peter accepts himself being treated as Luke by the rest of the town, led by Mayor Ernie Cole. Peter warms up to the town, including getting to know Harry and also Luke's girlfriend Adele, who is the Doc's daughter.

Peter adjusts to the new life and helps to renovate The Majestic, a movie theater that had become derelict due to hard times. Bob Leffert, a veteran of the war who knew Luke, does not believe Peter is Luke, and fears Peter may be setting the town up for heartbreak, given they had lost sixty other young men during the war. Despite this, Peter helps to restore the theater, invigorate the town, and encourages Mayor Cole to display a memorial, commissioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after the war, that the town did not previously have the heart to display.

Meanwhile, Peter's disappearance leads Congressional committee member Elvin Clyde to believe Peter is a communist, and he sends two federal agents Ellerby and Saunders to California to search for him, where they follow a lead on his car showing up on a beach.

Peter recovers from his amnesia when The Majestic shows his first movie Sand Pirates of the Sahara, and his screenwriting credit jolts him. Harry suffers from a fatal heart attack before the reel change. After examining him, Doc reports that Harry's time is short. Peter cannot come to admit the truth, allowing Harry to die believing he is Luke.

After the funeral, Peter admits the truth to Adele, who had already suspected it and supports his decision to tell the rest of the town. Before he can do so, federal agents Ellery and Saunders, as well as Leo and some police officers, arrive. When Sheriff Coleman asks if they need any help with anything, the federal agents reveal Peter's true identity to the whole town and give him a summons to appear before a congressional committee in Los Angeles. During their meeting, Leo advises Peter to agree to reveal a list of other named "communists" in order to clear his own name. Later that night, the Majestic's usher Emmett admits that he knew Peter wasn't Luke after hearing Peter play a roadhouse boogie at the town festival, since Luke was more inclined to classical music.

The next day, Peter has an argument with Adele over this decision, and she gives him a letter she had gotten from the real Luke, as he boards the train. On the train, Peter reads the letter, where Luke states his awareness that he might die in the war for a real cause, as well as a pocket-sized version of the U.S. Constitution and Luke's Medal of Honor.

Peter changes his mind at the session, which is watched by all of Lawson on television, and confronts Congressman Doyle during the session. Peter gives an impassioned speech about American ideals, which sways the crowd, especially when he holds up Luke's Medal of Honor, and forces the lawmakers to let him go free. As Peter discusses the result with Kevin, he learns that the girl he met in college was the one that had named him to the committee.

Peter attempts to return to his former career, but finds he cannot deal with the ridiculousness of the studio executives' ideas, and leaves Hollywood.

After sending Adele a telegram, Peter instead returns to Lawson, fearing an unwelcome reception. Instead, he receives a hero's welcome from the town's citizens, who have come to respect him as an individual. Peter then resumes ownership and management of The Majestic, marries Adele, and they have a son together.


  • Jim Carrey as Peter Appleton, a screenwriter who flees Hollywood after being accused of having communist sympathies; he loses his memory after a car accident and is mistaken for Luke Trimble, a soldier feared to be missing in action during WWII.
  • Bob Balaban as Elvin Clyde, a member of Congress presiding over Peter's Congressional hearing.
  • Brent Briscoe as Cecil Coleman, the sheriff of Lawson.
  • Jeffrey DeMunn as Ernie Cole, the Mayor of Lawson who is also a druggist.
  • Amanda Detmer as Sandra Sinclair, Peter's movie star ex-girlfriend, who plays Emily in Sand Pirates of the Sahara.
  • Allen Garfield as Leo Kubelsky, Peter's agent.
  • Hal Holbrook as Congressman Doyle, a member of Congress presiding over Peter's Congressional hearing.
  • Laurie Holden as Adele Stanton, the girlfriend of Luke Trimble and the daughter of Doc Stanton.
  • Martin Landau as Harry Trimble, the father of Luke Trimble.
  • Ron Rifkin as Kevin Bannerman, a studio attorney
  • David Ogden Stiers as Doc Stanton, the residential doctor of Lawson and the father of Adele.
  • James Whitmore as Stan Keller, the elderly clock store owner who finds Peter on the beach following his car accident.
  • Gerry Black as Emmett Smith, the usher and repairman of the Majestic.
  • Susan Willis as Irene Terwilliger, the candy server at the Majestic and a music tutor.
  • Catherine Dent as Mabel, a waitress at a diner in Lawson.
  • Karl Bury as Bob Leffert, a one-handed veteran and diner chef who knew Luke Trimble.
  • Brian Howe as Carl Leffert, the cousin of Bob Leffert.
  • Chelcie Ross as Avery Wyatt, the owner of a hardware store in Lawson.
  • Matt G. Wiens as Spencer Wyatt, the son of Avery Wyatt, who plays the clarinet in the town band.
  • Daniel von Bargen as Federal Agent Ellerby, a federal agent searching for Peter.
  • Shawn Doyle as Federal Agent Saunders, a federal agent searching for Peter.
  • Mario Roccuzzo as Jerry, a bartender at a bar that Peter visits before his car accident.
  • Bill Gratton as Daley
  • Scotty Leavenworth as Joey, the kid who finds Peter's car on the beach.
  • Earl Boen as Newsreel Announcer (voice)
  • Bruce Campbell as Brett Armstrong, an actor who plays Roland the Intrepid Explorer, the main protagonist of Sand Pirates of the Sahara.
  • Cliff Curtis as Ramón Jamón, an actor who plays The Evil But Handsome Prince Khalid, the main antagonist of Sand Pirates of the Sahara.
  • Matt Damon as the voice of Luke Trimble, the soldier whom Peter is believed to be; his voice is heard as Peter reads his farewell letter.

Garry Marshall, Paul Mazursky, Sydney Pollack, Carl Reiner, and Rob Reiner provide voices for the unseen Studio Executives.


The town of Ferndale, California[6] provided many of the interior and exterior locations for The Majestic.[7] The namesake theater was built as a false-front in the Ferndale municipal parking lot, and many Main Street buildings were modified by the film company.[7]

Train scenes were recorded on the California Western Railroad in Fort Bragg, California.

The lighthouse used was Point Cabrillo Light.


Box Office[edit]

The film earned $27 million at the box office in the United States and another $9 million outside the US, which beings the worldwide total of $37 million. The film’s failure was partly due to competition with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Ocean's Eleven, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Critical response[edit]

The Majestic received generally unfavorable reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 42% based on 142 reviews, with an average rating of 4.90/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Ponderous and overlong, The Majestic drowns in forced sentimentality and resembles a mish mash of other, better films."[8] On Metacritic the film has a score of 27 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[9]

Kenneth Turan of Los Angeles Times commented that it was a "derivative, self satisfied fable that couldn't be more treacly and simple-minded if it tried".[10]

One exception to this was Roger Ebert, who awarded the film three and a half stars and praised the film and its ideals: "It flies the flag in honor of our World War II heroes, and evokes nostalgia for small-town movie palaces and the people who run them... Frank Darabont has deliberately tried to make the kind of movie Capra made, about decent small-town folks standing up for traditional American values. In an age of Rambo patriotism, it is good to be reminded of Capra patriotism - to remember that America is not just about fighting and winning, but about defending our freedoms."[11] Ebert also praised Jim Carrey's performance stating that he "has never been better or more likable".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE MAJESTIC Michael and brandy forever (PG)". Warner Bros. British Board of Film Classification. January 14, 2002. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "The Majestic (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "The Majestic - Starring Jim Carrey & Ferndale, California!". Victorian Village Inn. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "UK Weekend Box Office 24th May 2002 - 26th May 2002". Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  6. ^ Haeseler, Rob (April 17, 1995). "Hollywood Invades Humboldt County". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "The Majestic". Northern California Filming locations. Film in America. 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  8. ^ "The Majestic (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  9. ^ "The Majestic Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Turan, Kenneth (December 21, 2001). "No Surprises at the End, or Anywhere Else". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 21, 2001). "The Majestic". Chicago Sun-Times.

External links[edit]