Milos Forman directs Jim Carrey in this biopic about the zany Andy Kaufman. Andy Kaufman wasn’t a comedian, he was a performance artist. He didn’t tell jokes; he had characters and tricks and would try to get real reactions from his audience. Is he entertaining the audience or himself?
When people defend Jim Carrey’s acting ability they usually name Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and/or the Truman Show. The fact is that there are a dozen actors that could have played the lead in those movies. John Cusack would’ve killed as Truman. Johnny Depp could have been Eternally Sunshining. The Majestic sucks; we don’t talk about that travesty. Man on the Moon works just because of Jim Carrey. Only Carrey has the ability to transform into the enigmatic Andy Kaufman. You forget that you are watching Jim Carrey. There are times in Truman or Eternal Sunshine where he kind of flails about and you remember that you’re watching Jim Carrey and not a movie. Jim Carrey is Andy Kaufman, you forget about Jim Carrey entirely.
Most biopics are about a very famous person, but Jim Carrey is more of a celebrity than Kaufman ever was. I was born in 1985, there’s no way I ever would have heard of Andy Kaufman if it weren’t for Jim Carrey reintroducing him to the world. Without Carrey, Kaufman might have been forgotten by my generation and the ones that follow.
The cast was great. Danny DeVito and Paul Giammatti play great supporting roles. Even Courtney Love turns in a good performance as the love interest. You can almost forgive her for killing Kurt. Almost. There are lots of cameos from celebrities in Kaufman’s life. David Letterman, Lorne Michaels, the cast of Taxi, and a bunch of other celebrities show up as themselves.
The whole movie is summed up in one simple scene. Andy is sick and dying and seeks out a psychic surgeon. He realizes that it’s just a scam artist pulling a fast one and laughs at the irony.
Kaufman was larger than life, a true original. He deceived the audience and loved messing with them. It didn’t matter if they loved him or hated him, as long as their emotions were real. Real responses and reactions make real art. The film covers a lot of Andy’s great moments, from his early standup, to his SNL appearances, to his antics as Tony Clifton, and to his final triumphant show at Carnegie Hall. When you finish watching it, you want to go online and find more of his bits and material. You want to learn more about Andy Kaufman, and that’s the sign of a successful biopic.
Critically Rated at 15/17