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O. C. LIVE | KIDS ON FILM

Dark Side of the Goon Confuses Some of Carrey's Admirers

In "The Cable Guy," a lonely man (Matthew Broderick) hooks up with an obsessive installer (Jim Carrey) who was raised by a television set and who tries to destroy people he can't connect with. (Rated PG-13)

June 20, 1996|LYNN SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After "The Mask," "Dumb and Dumber" and two installments of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," Nicole Bennett, 11, of Tustin knew pretty much what to expect from "The Cable Guy": grade-school silliness, slapstick humor, something over the top.

"I thought it would be stupid, and I wanted to see if it would be stupid or not," Nicole said.

How stupid was it?

"Just a little," she answered. "Some parts were funny, though."

But she and other kids said it was a different kind of funny for Carrey, a kind that bordered on not funny at all.

"In 'Ace Ventura,' he was funny, but he wasn't crazy," Nicole said. "In this movie, he was a lunatic. Sometimes it was a little bit too much. . . . "At the end, it wasn't, like, fun any more."

Her parents, Michael and Diane, Carrey fans from former movies, hated it and were relieved they hadn't taken Nicole's younger siblings.

"It's very inappropriate for kids," Michael said.

"They're older," sighed Nicole, explaining her parents' opinions. But she said that she too was glad the younger children stayed away.

The movie is laden with sexual innuendo, including a game of Porno Password the cable guy initiates during a visit with the family of Steven Kovac (Broderick). The other family members enjoy it, but Steven finally quits out of embarrassment and winds up decking Carrey's character.

To get in his good graces, the cable guy tricks Steven into thinking a prostitute is a woman who is simply attracted to him. He photographs them together and later uses it as blackmail.

The cable guy attempts to destroy Steven's career and his on-again, off-again romance because Steven won't be his friend.

The laughs turned uneasy midway through the movie during one particularly nasty restroom scene. Carrey's character surprises a man who is also dating Steven's girlfriend, shoving his head into a toilet and his mouth around a blow dryer.

Many kids missed the movie's mini-message about the destructive potential of the media. Having been left too long in front of the TV by his barfly mother, the cable guy lives his life on talk-show philosophy. He doesn't even know his real name and borrows those of TV characters, such as Chip Douglas and Ricky Ricardo.

Some kids, conditioned to find humor in whatever Carrey does, laughed at his lisp, his manic laugh and his 1970s karaoke routine at a party.

And many remained loyal.

"It was funny," said Michael Nguyen, 9, of Irvine.

"I thought it was funny and hysterical," added his friend Chris Ramos, also 9, also of Irvine.

Deric Walintuka, 11, of Trabuco Canyon thought Carrey deserved the $20 million he reportedly received for playing the part. "This was more funnier than 'Ace Ventura II,' " Deric said.

But twins Joe and Jeff Huang, 16, visiting from Fremont, called the movie "far fetched."

Not that they expected anything different. Said Joe: "He has to keep doing movies [like this] to live up to his reputation."

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