When mild-mannered Steven (Broderick) slips Chip, the cable guy (Carrey), $50 for free cable, he lets himself in for a world of trouble, as Chip decides to become Steven's new best friend.
"I gave you free cable, what have you ever done for me?" What began life as the film that scooped Carrey the title of Hollywood's highest paid actor, ended as being the movie that wiped out his winning streak. Yet for all the debate about whether it was too dark, too radical a departure, or just too crap, The Cable Guy was, let's face it, never going to out-gross Ace Ventura at the box office. A pet detective speaking out of his arse is one thing, but a cable man who buys his buddies prostitutes (having previously checked them out first) or plucks the eyebrows from a love rival, is a whole new comedic ball game.
It was a bold decision by Carrey to eschew his loveable goofball image to such a degree, and as Chip Douglas, the psychotic cable TV engineer who inveigles his way into the life of architect Steven (Broderick), you actually believe he could do some serious damage. The film begins with Steven, having just moved into his new bachelor pad after splitting with his girlfriend Robin (Mann), offering Chip a $50 bribe to chuck in a few extra channels, not realising that this lonely, seriously unhinged guy desperately wants a friend, to the extent that he will take over his life.
As the lisping, TV-obsessed Chip, Carrey is at his most maniacal to date —witness his karaoke version of Jefferson Airplane's Somebody To Love. He could, we feel, go both ways. And does. So too the film veers from the wildly comic to the uncomfortably nasty — the scene in which Chip beats the daylights out of a prospective suitor of Robin is almost too horrible to watch. Only at its denouement does the film lack the courage of its blackly comic convictions; otherwise, this could well be seen as Carrey's most interesting work.
The mix of light comedy and really quite dark themes proved too much for many viewers, but this is worth a look for Broderick's performance and Carrey's obsessive touches.