Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton

Grade : A+ Year : 2017 Director : Chris Smith Running Time : 1hr 34min Genre :
Movie review score

I’m curious as to why, in 2017, Jim Carrey was ready to give us a glimpse behind-the-scenes, and offer up a personal look at his own process by giving us access to previously-unseen footage of him during the filming of Milos Forman’s 1999 Andy Kaufman biopic, “Man on the Moon.” It’s been at least a decade since Carrey was a big star in Hollywood, and “Man on the Moon,” which netted him his second Golden Globe in a row, was him at the peak of his creative powers, a run that would culminate in an all-timer performance in 2004’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” After that, he had some hits, but he was never the same force on-screen, and though he has worked regularly since, he’s a long way from the mugging powerhouse that set film comedy ablaze in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask” and “Dumb & Dumber” in 1994. The Carrey we see being interviewed by Chris Smith here still would seem to have that elastic face that made him famous, but there’s a soulfulness and introspection in his eyes that is fascinating to witness.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was, at best, an on-and-off Jim Carrey fan. I hated “Ace Ventura,” enjoyed “The Mask” and his teamwork with Jeff Daniels in “Dumb & Dumber,” but it wasn’t until his collaborations with Peter Weir (“The Truman Show”) and Forman in “Man on the Moon” that I truly appreciated him as a performer. His comedy style was just not really for me, but his “serious” side, and what came out of his work with fascinating collaborators (including Frank Darabont in the underrated 2001 film, “The Majestic,” and Michel Gondry on “Eternal Sunshine”) and post-“Truman Show” was interesting to me. What I remembered watching of Andy Kaufman in my early life, which basically was relegated to his work on “Taxi,” was fascinating to me, and seeing Carrey channel that in Forman’s film was an event for me, although it also helped that I was a fan of the director by this point, as well, after “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Amadeus” and, especially (at the time), “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” I knew Forman would get the very best out of Carrey, and I was not disappointed.

It’s difficult to consider discussing the footage, which Carrey has held on to for almost 20 years, without diving into a review of “Man on the Moon,” in general, but watching as Carrey took a deep dive into the mannerisms of Kaufman and his lounge lizard character, Tony Clifton, for the Forman film is a revealing piece of performance art, and gives us a great indication of where Carrey lives as an actor and comedian. And seeing his words now interspersed with not only that footage but also with his films and his own career give us a fascinating look at Carrey himself, and gave me an appreciation for the actor that I hadn’t really had as an individual for a while. You hear about Carrey in one way or another off and on, but as an on-screen presence, he hasn’t really been a consideration for me for a while (although it’s interesting that I just rewatched his work in Ron Howard’s “The Grinch” again with my wife and sister-in-law on Friday night). “Jim & Andy” makes me want to chart back on his career, rewatch some of his films, and watch some of them I never saw in the first place, with the perspective I have on him now, and see how I feel about his body at work as a whole. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do the same with Kaufman, but “Jim & Andy” also gave me a larger appreciation for him, as well, and the way the two melded for Forman’s film, and how it transformed Carrey especially, is a must-see for fans of not just everyone involved, but of any artist who offers a piece of themselves for us to enjoy.

Leave a Reply