Title – Man on the Moon (1999)
Director – Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
Cast – Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Paul Giamatti, Courtney Love
Plot – A biographical look at the key moments in the life of comedian Andy Kaufman (Carrey), who become a household name thanks to key roles in Saturday Night Live, Taxi and his often bizarre stand-up and stunt routines.
“You’re insane, but you might also be brilliant”
Review by Eddie on 16/11/2017
Genius or lunatic, regardless of what you think of comedian and boundary pushing performer Andy Kaufman it’s safe to say he influenced and heralded in a whole new age of comedian and is responsible for the likes of Jim Carrey, Sacha Baron Cohen and other such similar blurred-line acts.
While perhaps not a household name as such, Kaufman who rose to fame in the late 70’s and early 80’s from roles in shows like Saturday Night Live, Taxi and his infamous live TV appearances such as what occurred with pro-wrestler Jerry Lawler on David Letterman, was an endlessly energetic and constantly mysterious human being that underrated director Milos Forman and his leading man Jim Carrey shone a light on in the memorable 1999 film Man on the Moon.
A film that harbors one of Carrey’s best individual performances (a performance that will be examined in upcoming Netflix doco Jim and Andy), Man on the Moon does a fantastic job of recreating many of Kaufman’s most infamous events from his early rise, his Taxi fame, wrestling exploits and perhaps most fascinating of all, his washed up Las Vegas singer alter-ego Tony Clifton.
Kaufman being the figure he was (or still is if you buy into many conspiracies around the fact Kaufman never in fact passed away), makes it extremely hard for Forman and Carrey to offer any significant insights into what drove Kaufman to do the things he did or what possessed him to pursue certain aspects of his too short of a career.
It’s part of the unarguable charm of the performer though, a man that as sure as day would be concocting his next surprise or event at any given chance and it’s this manic, almost otherworldly ability that Carrey and Forman capture to great effect.
In a performance that blurs the line between imitation and full on embodiment, Carrey literally becomes Kaufman and it’s a turn that deserved more plaudits upon initial release.
Ably supported by Danny DeVito as Andy’s committed agent George Shapiro and Paul Giamatti as long-time friend and fellow “comedian” Bob Zmuda, watching real life footage of Carrey and Kaufman and key scenes of the film compared with real life footage, you get a full understanding that this was as good of a reincarnation of Kaufman as we’re ever going to get.
Final Say –
For anyone looking for an insight into the life and times of Kaufman Man on the Moon is the perfect answer, as well as being a refreshing reminder that Jim Carrey can match it with the best of them when given material that suits his unique and often underrated acting abilities.
4 neck braces out of 5