Jim Carrey was undoubtedly was of the biggest cinematic stars of the 1990’s. Between 1994 and 1999 alone, Carrey starred in acclaimed and box office shattering films such as, Ace Ventura, The Mask, Dumb & Dumber, Batman Forever, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Liar Liar, The Truman Show and Man on the Moon. Smack bang in the middle of all this was, The Cable Guy. On paper it should have been a hit of corpulent proportions. Starring the biggest comedy actor in the world, who was currently on a winning streak of back-to-back hits. With a supporting cast comprised of universally praised comedic talent, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stiller, Kathy Griffin, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk and Andy Dick. And with Ben Stiller at the directorial helm, the film couldn’t fail, could it?
The Cable Guy is now infamously referred to as “a flop”, “a bomb” a “disaster” and often joked about as the film that almost ruined Jim Carrey’s career. Comparatively speaking The Cable Guy did under perform at the box office in relation to Carrey’s other work. The film was met with mixed reviews by the critics and wasn’t particularly popular with audiences. Since it’s release, the film has acquired cult like status and is often regarded as a highlight of Carrey’s career, retrospectively speaking. Celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year, The Cable Guy has definitely aged very well when compared to a lot of it’s comedy counterparts of the time. The main reason being, it’s still laugh out loud funny.
I really like the film, and I think it’s lack of initial success was down to a number of things. Firstly I think it was tonally too dark for a mainstream audience. Sinister at times, and on occasion flirting with surrealism, the film’s humour was bleak and unlike anything Carrey had attempted before. I think the film was ahead of it’s time and didn’t quite fit as comfortably into the Jim Carrey 90’s collection as fans had come to expect. Years before he’d start branching out into more experimental pursuits such as The Truman Show, Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine, The Cable Guy was his first real venture away from mainstream comedy.