Highly underrated and almost forgotten, The Cable Guy is a surprisingly intelligent black comedy starring Jim Carrey. Released just two years after his megahit Dumb and Dumber, one of my favorite movies of all time, you might think it’s just another one of his zany movies. A bit of physical comedy, a bit of snappy dialogue, and wham bam, the movie is over and forgotten about. However, The Cable Guy is a different breed of black comedy. It focuses on the issue of mental health, exploring this topic with razor-sharp humor and thus opening up a broader conversation we simply need to have.
I remember watching it back in the day and laughing my ass off at all the jokes and slapstick humor. The soundtrack was also excellent and I remember playing Somebody to Love countless times in the following years. Hell, even now when I hear that song I instantly think of Carrey’s incredibly eclectic vocal performance. Especially that thing that he did with his throat. So, you can watch The Cable Guy as just another highly entertaining nineties comedy, comfortably surfing on the surface. Or, you could delve ever so deeper, into the psyche of a lonely guy who’s just looking for somebody to love.
And while alienation we all feel in this modern world and that was just starting to rear its ugly head in the nineties, is the main subject, there are also a couple of more interesting ones. For example, the topic of male friendship is one that I would like to focus on now. How do men make friends? It would appear that you’re either a man who can make friends without even thinking or you’re a man who’s overthinking the whole thing and coming off as awkward and just creepy. We already talked about this subject in another movie recommendation, I Love You Man. And it’s further explored in The Banshees of Inisherin or Men’s Inability to Process Emotion.
While we’re talking about similar movies, I also have to mention another nineties comedy, What About Bob? Although that is a much more mainstream movie without so much subversive elements. What surprised me the most about the movie The Cable Guy is that its director is none other than Ben Stiller. Yes, that Ben Stiller. Who fucking knew this guy is not only a great actor but also a talented director. A talented director who made a complex story full of complex characters feel easygoing and vibrant.
To get back a bit to the sociological aspects of this movie, even the job of the eponymous cable guy opens a whole new avenue of discussion. Do you remember your cable guy? Or any guy that comes to your house to repair on install something? We oftentimes, myself included, look at them as robots, here to do their job flawlessly and in a timely and then disappear. However, they don’t disappear but go back to the same society we’re part of. In this equation, Matthew Broderick was the perfect choice for the role of the average nice guy. We also have Jack Black, Leslie Mann, and other excellent actors doing what they do best.
After his girlfriend rejected his marriage proposal, Steven Kovacs moves into a new apartment. He bribes the cable guy to install additional channels not knowing what’s going to happen next. Chip, the cable guy, starts making excuses to see him and since Steven is now single, the two of them hit it off. However, after a while, Steven starts noticing that something might be off with Chip. And that he actually might be a mentally unstable stalker who could even become dangerous. And so the dance begins.
The Cable Guy is basically an indictment of our current tribal system of values. As its extension capitalism forced Chip’s mom to leave him alone at home. And he ended up being raised by television. I sympathize with this story because I was the same. The story is a bit different but nonetheless, I really was raised by movies. They told me everything I wanted to know about the world and how it really is.
Speaking of movies, I only recently realized that the prison scene where Carrey presses his nude breasts upon the glass is actually a parody of the final scene in the movie Midnight Express. He even mentions this in the movie but I simply never got around to seeing that masterpiece. Featuring a running time of just ninety minutes and fast pacing, The Cable Guy is a movie you simply must watch. It still remains one of my favorite nineties comedies and I watch it every few years just to remember how awesome it is.
Director: Ben Stiller
Writer: Judd Apatow, Lou Holtz Jr.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Janeane Garofalo
Fun Facts: Jim Carrey’s paycheck for this movie was whopping $20 million. Compare that sum to Matthew Broderick measly $2 million. However, he was worth every fucking cent.