"The Majestic" finds director Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption") in unashamedly feelgood form, producing a sweetly romantic tale of 50s Americana.
Set in 1951, Peter Appleton (Carrey) is a shallow up-and-coming screenwriter whose blithe attendance of a leftwing meeting winds up as a full-blown accusation of Communism and blacklisting.
A subsequent car accident finds him in a small town suffering from amnesia, where he's mistaken for long-lost local boy Luke Trimble. Embraced by the townsfolk, he sets about rebuilding the local cinema with his deluded 'father' Harry (Landau).
Given that much of Hollywood's alleged feelgood fare is cynically market-tested to death, that "The Majestic" comes off as pure-hearted is quite an achievement. Like "Cinema Paradiso", the film parades an enormous affection for movies.
It's less successful taking on early 50s politics: despite the tense backdrop of the McCarthy anti-communist witchhunts, no real commentary is supplied, resulting in a painfully preachy denouement.
The film is at its best, however, when the rediscovered 'Luke' brings hope to a community that lost 62 young men during World War II and has never fully recovered. In return, the town erases Peter's sense of jadedness.
In a thoroughly impressive and likable performance, Jim Carrey works a Jimmy Stewart 'Everyman' turn that complements Darabont's Capraesque direction. Carrey is ably supported by some superb character turns, particularly Martin Landau as Luke's father, and Laurie Holden as the liberated love interest.
The film's unabashed nostalgia for a kinder, innocent American era may be lost on - and unpalatable to - non-American audiences, but Darabont undoubtedly provides a beautifully crafted and engagingly performed crowd-pleaser.