The Cable Guy
The Cable Guy is a 1996 American black comedy film directed by Ben Stiller, starring Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick. It was released in the United States on June 14, 1996. The film co-stars Leslie Mann, Jack Black, George Segal, Diane Baker, Eric Roberts, Owen Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, Andy Dick, Amy Stiller, and Bob Odenkirk.
|The Cable Guy|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ben Stiller|
|Produced by||Judd Apatow|
Jeffrey A. Mueller
|Written by||Lou Holtz Jr.|
|Music by||John Ottman|
|Edited by||Steven Weisberg|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|Box office||$102.8 million|
The film was a box office success, but received mixed reception from critics.
Architect Steven Kovacs moves into an apartment after a failed marriage proposal to his girlfriend Robin Harris. Taking advice from his friend Rick Lagados, Steven bribes cable installer Ernie "Chip" Douglas into giving him free movie channels. Chip gets Steven to hang out with him the next day and makes him one of his "preferred customers". Chip takes Steven to the city's central satellite dish, where he confides to Steven about being raised on television due to the frequent absences of his single mother. Chip soon proves to be intrusive as he crashes a basketball game between Steven and his friends and leaves several messages on Steven's answering machine. Following a passionate knight battle between Chip and Steven at Medieval Times, Steven finds that Chip has secretly installed an expensive home theater system in his living room as a gift in return for Steven's friendship. Although Steven declines the gift, he agrees to host a party attended by Chip's other preferred customers before having the system returned. In the fervor of the party, Steven sleeps with a young guest, whom Chip reveals the next morning to have been a prostitute that he had hired specifically for Steven. Upon this revelation, Steven angrily ejects Chip from his apartment.
To make amends, Chip tracks down Robin, who is dating another man. A disguised Chip severely beats the man in a restaurant bathroom and tells him to stay away from Robin. He later upgrades Robin's cable, ostensibly as a gift from Steven. Robin decides to get back together with Steven as a result. However, when Chip informs Steven of his role in reuniting him with Robin, Steven politely ends his relationship with Chip. Devastated, Chip sets out on a series of vengeful acts. He gets Steven arrested for possession of the stolen property and mocks him through a prison visitation window. After being released on bail, Steven is further embarrassed when Chip attends dinner with his family and Robin. Following a sexualized version of the game Password, Steven openly berates Chip and punches him. The next day, Steven is fired from his job when Chip transmits a privately-recorded conversation, in which Steven insults his boss, onto the company's computers.
Rick investigates Chip at Steven's request and finds that Chip was fired from the cable company for stalking customers, and uses the names of television characters as aliases such as Chip Douglas from My Three Sons and Larry Tate from Bewitched. Chip calls Steven that night, telling him he is paying Robin a visit. After visiting Robin's empty apartment, Steven tracks them down to the satellite dish, where Chip holds Robin hostage in a rainstorm. After a physical altercation and a chase, Steven is able to save Robin. As the police arrive, Chip apologizes to Steven for being a bad friend. Chip, proclaiming that he must "kill the babysitter" to prevent others from becoming like him, dives backward from the top of a ladder above the satellite dish, falling onto it and knocking out the television signal to the entire city. Chip survives the fall with an injured back, and bids Steven farewell before being hauled away in a rescue helicopter. When one of the paramedics addresses him as "buddy", Chip asks the paramedic if he is truly his buddy, to which the paramedic replies "Yeah, sure you are", causing Chip to smile deviously.
- Matthew Broderick as Steven M. Kovacs
- Jim Carrey as Cable Guy AKA Ernie "Chip" Douglas
- Leslie Mann as Robin Harris
- Jack Black as Rick Lagados
- George Segal as Earl Kovacs
- Diane Baker as Mrs. Kovacs
- Ben Stiller as Sam Sweet/Stan Sweet
- Eric Roberts as Himself
- Owen Wilson as Ray
- Charles Napier as Police Officer
- Janeane Garofalo as Medieval Times Waitress
- David Cross as Sales Manager
- Andy Dick as Medieval Times Host
- Amy Stiller as Joan
- Bob Odenkirk as Pete Kovacs
- Kyle Gass as Couch Potato
First-time screenwriter Lou Holtz Jr. had the idea for The Cable Guy while working as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, declaring that he once saw a cable company employee in the hallway of his mother's apartment building and started thinking, "What's he doing here so late?" The screenplay became the subject of a bidding war, won by Columbia Pictures at a price of $750,000. The role of the Cable Guy was originally written for Chris Farley, who turned it down due to scheduling difficulties.
Jim Carrey joined the production, receiving a then record $20 million to star. Following Carrey's signing, Columbia hired Judd Apatow to produce. The studio rebuffed Apatow's interest in directing, but accepted his suggestion to invite Ben Stiller, star of his eponymous show on which Apatow had worked.
The original screenplay by Lou Holtz Jr. was a lighter comedy, described by Apatow as "a What About Bob? annoying friend movie" where the Cable Guy was a likeable loser who intrudes upon the cable subscriber's life, but never in a physically threatening way. Carrey, Apatow and Stiller liked the setup of "somebody who is really smart with technology invading somebody's life", and opted to add slapstick and darker tones, changing into a satire of thrillers such as Cape Fear, Unlawful Entry and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. The dialogue would also fit Carrey's style of comedy.
Holtz wrote four additional drafts, each one darker than the previous, before leaving the project and giving Apatow the opportunity to take over the writing. Apatow and Stiller visited Carrey as he was filming Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls in South Carolina, and over a few days, riffed a lot of the set pieces that were added to the script, and further explored how Carrey wanted to perform the character. Apatow took the film to the Writers Guild for arbitration to get a writing credit but ultimately Holtz retained sole credit for the script. Apatow expressed frustration at not getting credit but acknowledged that as he was also a producer on the film, the Writers Guild requirements are set very high to protect writers.
The final script had elements so disturbing that Columbia heard many complaints regarding certain scenes. In turn, Apatow declared that the studio did not specifically order removals, "but we took [the scenes] out as part of the natural evolution of our creative process". Stiller stated that he shot every scene with "a dark version and a light version", and that he was surprised that the studio did not object to the violent ending.
The fight sequence at Medieval Times between Chip (Jim Carrey) and Steven (Matthew Broderick) is an homage to the Star Trek episode "Amok Time"—including the use of Vulcan weapons (lirpa), the dialogue, and the background music. Director Ben Stiller is an admitted Star Trek fan.
The film grossed $19,806,226 on its opening weekend. It grossed a total $60,240,295 in the North American domestic market, and $42,585,501 outside the United States, making a total of $102,825,796 worldwide gross, but failed to reach domestic projected numbers Jim Carrey brought to his previous movies. Apatow said "people looked at it as a failure because it didn’t make even more money." Despite the critical perception that the movie was a disappointment, it made a profit in excess of its $47 million production budget.
The Cable Guy has been regarded as having a darker tone than most of Carrey's previous work. Audiences had mixed reactions to this change of tone for Carrey and film critics gave mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 54%, based on 78 reviews, with an average rating of 5.76/10. The site's critical consensus states, "The Cable Guy's dark flashes of thought-provoking, subversive wit are often—but not always—enough to counter its frustratingly uneven storytelling approach." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on reviews from 28 critics. Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "C+" on scale of A to F.
The film was on J. Hoberman's Top 10 best of the year. Roger Ebert included The Cable Guy in his worst of the year list for 1996, though colleague Gene Siskel disagreed, calling it "a very good film. (Carrey's) best since The Mask". Ebert's main problems with the film were that he found Carrey's performance so bizarre and creepy that it undermined the entire story, and also that the movie was more of a dark comedy than was necessary for it to work.
The film was also noted for its similarities to the Australian telemovie The Plumber (1979), which was written and directed by Peter Weir, who would later direct Carrey in The Truman Show (1998).
- 1997 MTV Movie Awards
- 1997 Kids' Choice Awards
- Favorite Movie Actor – Jim Carrey (Won)
- 1996 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards
- Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy (Nominated)
The Cable Guy was released on VHS on December 3, 1996, DVD on September 15, 1997, and a 15th anniversary Blu-ray release on March 1, 2011. Sony re-issued the latter format as a manufacture-on-demand title on December 17, 2019
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||May 21, 1996|
The Cable Guy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the official soundtrack. It consists of previously unreleased songs, largely of alternative rock and heavy metal bands, and includes the first solo recording by Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains fame. The soundtrack includes Jim Carrey's version of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" which was performed by him in the film. It also includes a song from $10,000 Gold Chain, a side project of Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready. White Zombie's "More Human than Human" is featured in a dramatic scene of the film but was not included on the soundtrack release.
Cantrell's "Leave Me Alone" served as the soundtrack's promotional vehicle and was released as a single, peaking at No. 14 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It had a music video that featured various footage from Cable Guy in a dark manner typical of Cantrell's style. It also had Jim Carrey's haunting face reaching out of a television screen observing Cantrell. The music video was included as a bonus feature on the 15th-anniversary edition Blu-ray of The Cable Guy in 2011.
While the album as a whole was not well received, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic noted that "Leave Me Alone" positively "rocks as hard as any Alice in Chains track". The track "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" gained popularity for its appearance in the film and reached No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 1996.
- Track listing
- "I'll Juice You Up" – Jim Carrey
- "Leave Me Alone" – Jerry Cantrell
- "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" – Primitive Radio Gods
- "Blind" – Silverchair
- "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" (The Velvet Underground cover) – $10,000 Gold Chain
- "End of the World is Coming" – David Hilder
- "Satellite of Love" – Porno for Pyros
- "Get Outta My Head" – Cracker
- "Somebody to Love" – Jim Carrey
- "The Last Assassin" – Cypress Hill
- "This Is" – Ruby
- "Hey Man, Nice Shot" (Promo-Only Remix) – Filter
- "Unattractive" – Toadies
- "Download" – Expanding Man
- "This Concludes Our Broadcast Day" – John Ottman
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- "The Cable Guy". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
- Variety Staff (12 June 1995). "Carrey set to land top-tier salary for 'Cable Guy'". Variety.
sources said he recently decided he didn’t want to commit to a film that far in the future and stepped aside
- Weinraub, Bernard (27 June 1996). "How a Sure Summer Hit Missed". The New York Times.
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- Welkos, Robert W. (June 25, 1996). "Humor Too Dark for Its Own Good?". The Los Angeles Times.
- "Humor Too Dark for Its Own Good?". Los Angeles Times. 25 June 1996.
- Sellers, John (March 1, 2011). "Judd Apatow Tells Us the Legend of The Cable Guy, the Bomb That Wasn't". Vulture.com. NY Mag. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
- Star Trek 30th Anniversary Special, October 6, 1996
- Kehr, Dave (February 25, 2011). "Jim Carrey as the Id Unleashed a Bit Before Its Time". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2019-10-02.
- "Weekend box office 12th July 1996 - 14th July 1996". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- "The Cable Guy". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
- "The Cable Guy". Metacritic.
- "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
- "J. Hoberman's Top Ten Lists 1977-2006". caltech.edu. Eric C. Johnson. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
- Ebert, Roger (host); Siskel, Gene (host) (January 11, 1997). "The Worst Films of 1996". Siskel & Ebert. Season 11. syndicated. Archived from the original on May 27, 2011.
My next big star in a bad movie is Jim Carrey, who got one of the year's biggest paychecks for The Cable Guy but forgot he became a top box office star by being a likable nut in funny comedies. The Cable Guy was an exercise in hatefulness with Carrey playing a pathological character who seemed not funny but obnoxious and annoying. [...] Jim Carrey has generated a very real comic talent but he can't work with material as negative as it is in The Cable Guy.
- Siskel & Ebert - The Cable Guy (1996). Tribune Broadcasting. Retrieved 2013-12-15 – via YouTube.
- "The Cable Guy - Original Soundtrack". AllMusic.
- The Cable Guy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Amazon.com. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
- "Jerry Cantrell "Leave Me Alone" Chart History". Billboard. July 6, 1996. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
- "Jerry Cantrell - Leave Me Alone". YouTube. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
- "The Cable Guy - 15th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. February 18, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Cable Guy - Original Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
- "Primitive Radio Gods "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" Chart History – Alternative Songs". Billboard. July 27, 1996. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
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