The Majestic (film)

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The Majestic
The Majestic poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Darabont
Produced by Frank Darabont
Written by Michael Sloane
Starring Jim Carrey
Martin Landau
Jeffrey DeMunn
David Ogden Stiers
James Whitmore
Laurie Holden
Ron Rifkin
Hal Holbrook
Bob Balaban
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography David Tattersall
Edited by Jim Page
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • December 11, 2001 (2001-12-11) (United States: premiere)
  • December 21, 2001 (2001-12-21) (United States: wide)
Running time
152 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $72 million[2]
Box office $37.3 million[2]

The Majestic is a 2001 American drama film directed and produced by Frank Darabont, written by Michael Sloane, and starring Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Jeffrey DeMunn, David Ogden Stiers, James Whitmore, Laurie Holden, Ron Rifkin, Hal Holbrook, and Bob Balaban. 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 received mixed to negative reviews from critics and with a gross of $37 million worldwide against a budget of $72 million, The Majestic was a box office bomb.


In 1951, 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 college years before, a meeting he claims he only attended to impress a girl. In an instant, his 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 accidentally drives his car off a bridge and into a river while evading an opossum on the road. He is knocked unconscious, wakes up on an ocean beach with amnesia, and finds himself in the small town of Lawson, California after being discovered by Stan Keller who takes him to the local doctor Doc Stanton. The townsfolk feel like they recognize him but it's Harry Trimble who claims Peter is his son Luke, one of 61 local boys killed in World War II and who just happens to look exactly like Peter. The real Luke went MIA nine-and-a-half years earlier; his body was never found. The town embraces "Luke" as a symbol of hope. At first mildly hesitant to embrace this life, "Luke" eventually settles in to "his old life", and with his "father" Harry and his "girlfriend" Adele Stanton, starts to restore The Majestic theater, an old movie house that Harry closed down because of hard times.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Congressional committee member Elvin Clyde is convinced that Appleton's disappearance is proof that he is a Communist. No one in Hollywood knows about the accident. Clyde sends two federal agents to search for him. Back in Lawson, not everyone believes that "Luke" is back. Bob Leffert, a one-handed soldier who knew the real Luke and did not like him not only is convinced that Peter is not Luke, he also believes that this stranger is setting the town up for more heartbreak. Others question where Luke has been for so long, and what he has been doing in the interim.

A few days later, the town throws a welcome home party for "Luke". Peter, Harry, Adele, and the other staff members of The Majestic and the rest of the townsfolk work together to restore the theater to its former glory. Peter also convinces the town to finally display a memorial that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had commissioned after the war, but which the town did not have the heart to erect.

Peter recovers from his amnesia when The Majestic shows a movie he wrote called "Sand Pirates of the Sahara". At the same moment, Harry suffers a massive heart attack before the reel change, halting the movie. Doc's examination reveals that Harry's condition is fatal and that he will die soon. At Harry's deathbed, Peter lets him die believing that he is really Luke. Immediately after Harry's funeral, Peter tells Adele that he has regained his memory and knows that he is not Luke. Adele admits that she suspected it. Before he can break the news to the other townspeople, federal agents confront him publicly with Leo arriving as well. The federal agents present Peter with a summons to appear before a Congressional committee specially convened in Los Angeles.

Leo advises Peter to "admit" and then denounce his past associations with the Communist Party, and presents him with a list of named "communists" that he could read before the committee to clear his name. Initially, Peter reluctantly agrees to this plan, but an argument with Adele and a letter he finds in a pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution that was written as a sort of "goodbye letter" from the real Luke trying to explain to Adele that he knows he might die for a real cause, inspire Peter to instead confront the committee.

At the hearing, headed up by Congressman Doyle and televised with the citizens of Lawson also watching, Peter makes an impassioned speech about American ideals, which wins the crowd over. Fearing a political backlash, the lawmakers let him go free. Kevin tells Peter what has happened on the ride back and how he did "give" the Committee a name: the girl he was with in college. Initially, Peter thinks he's wrecked her life until Kevin reveals she was the one who named him. Soon afterwards, Peter returns to work, but in his meeting with the unseen studio executives (whom he bowed down to earlier), Peter grows weary of their ridiculous ideas and leaves Hollywood and his career behind.

Peter then 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, he gets married to Adele, and the two have a son together.


  • Jim Carrey as Peter Appleton, a screenwriter who loses his memory.
  • Martin Landau as Harry Trimble, the father of Luke Trimble.
  • Laurie Holden as Adele Stanton, the girlfriend of Luke Trimble and the daughter of Doc Stanton.
  • David Ogden Stiers as Doc Stanton, the residential doctor of Lawson.
  • James Whitmore as Stan Keller, an elderly clock store owner who finds Peter Appleton on the ocean beach following his car accident.
  • Jeffrey DeMunn as Ernie Cole, the Mayor of Lawson who is also a druggist.
  • Ron Rifkin as Kevin Bannerman, Peter's attorney
  • Hal Holbrook as Congressman Doyle, a congressman who presides over Peter Appleton's hearing.
  • Bob Balaban as Elvin Clyde, a member of congress.
  • Brent Briscoe as Cecil Coleman, the sheriff of Lawson.
  • Gerry Black as Emmett Smith, the usher and repairman of the Majestic.
  • Susan Willis as Irene Terwilliger, the candy server at the Majestic who worked as 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.
  • 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, a studio lawyer who is friends with Peter.
  • Daniel von Bargen as Federal Agent Ellerby, a federal agent who looks for Peter Appleton.
  • Shawn Doyle as Federal Agent Saunders, a federal agent who looks for Peter Appleton.
  • Mario Roccuzzo as Jerry, a bartender at a bar that Peter visits before his car accident.
  • Bill Gratton as Daley
  • Scotty Leavenworth as Joey, a kid who finds Peter Appleton's car on the beach.
  • Earl Boen as Newsreel Announcer (voice)
  • Bruce Campbell as Roland the Intrepid Explorer, the main protagonist of Sand Pirates of the Sahara.
  • Cliff Curtis as The Evil But Handsome Prince Khalid, the main antagonist of Sand Pirates of the Sahara.
  • Matt Damon as the voice of Luke Trimble, a soldier that 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 unseen Studio Executives.

Production notes[edit]

Luke's father Harry is shown projecting the 1925 silent film The Big Parade on the torn screen while Emmett Smith (Gerry Black) watches in the theater holding his dog, reminiscing about France and World War I. The scene shown is Melisande desperately trying to hold onto James as he is being sent up to the front lines. The Big Parade is not named in the film, and is only referenced by Harry as "the first film ever shown in the theater."

A brief appearance of the golden idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark can be seen in Appleton's in-film movie, Sand Pirates of the Sahara.

The letter from Luke that Adele gives to Peter contains many lines that are similar to the farewell letter written by Sullivan Ballou to his wife shortly before he was killed at the First Battle of Bull Run.

In one scene a band plays "Stranger on the Shore", a song that wasn't published until the 1960s.

There is a brief scene of The Coco Bongo Club, a club that was featured in a prior Jim Carrey film, The Mask.


The town of Ferndale, California[4] provided many of the interior and exterior locations for The Majestic.[5] 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.[5]


The film met with mixed to negative reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 42%, based on 139 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Ponderous and overlong, The Majestic drowns in forced sentimentality and resembles a mish-mash of other, better films."[6] On Metacritic the film has a score 27 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[7]

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".[8]

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."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE MAJESTIC (PG)". Warner Bros. British Board of Film Classification. January 14, 2002. Retrieved September 6, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "The Majestic)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "The Majestic - Starring Jim Carrey & Ferndale, California!". Victorian Village Inn. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  4. ^ Haeseler, Rob (17 April 1995). "Hollywood Invades Humboldt County". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "The Majestic". Northern California Filming locations. Film in America. 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Majestic (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Beyond Criticism". Los Angeles Times. January 5, 2002.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 21, 2001). "The Majestic". Chicago Sun-Times. 

External links[edit]