Wheels here with the second edition of a series where we, the AICN bullpen, get together and answer a simple question with complex answers: “What is your favorite film by a given talent?”
This time to coincide with tonight’s premiere of his new Showtime series, KIDDING, I chose comedian/actor/artist Jim Carrey. Carrey has had a long and varied career. So, I was really interested to see what sort of responses I would get from our diverse staff.
So, without further ado…
I LOVE THAT ONE!
AICN Pick Their Favorites vol. 2: Jim Carrey
Up first is AICN’s favorite sock puppet, Precious Roy! He starts us off with a brief look at a film that started cluing in the masses to what kind of dramatic talents hid underneath Carrey’s silly persona.
THE TRUMAN SHOW. THE TRUMAN SHOW is so good for so many reasons besides Carrey, but he really is remarkable in it. He's playing a guy that's been fed an imitation of life, and it all goes wrong when the showrunner tries to interfere with the natural human process of attraction and love.
To see Carrey’s Truman fight back against the actors who are his jailers is a thing of beauty. There’s a level of malice in the way he deals with ‘Meryl’ being a part of the conspiracy that is satisfying and brilliant. The way Carrey briefly flashes recognition as he realizes by Marlon’s denial speech that he’s a part of whatever weird conspiracy that has him is beautiful acting.
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Next, we have AICN’s resident animation expert and photoshop ninja, Big Eyes! She chose one of my favorites and easily one of the best films of Carrey’s career so far.
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND was the first DVD I ever bought with the money I made from my first paycheck. I had no idea what it was but I had a feeling about it. ETERNAL was truly a beautiful movie that delves into the reality of what would happen in a situation I’m sure a lot of us have wondered what if? What if we could just forget those who we once held dear, but have hurt us? Would it not be better for us to forget the pain and the trauma? What if we could just start over anew and try again?
The character that Jim Carrey plays, Joel, decides to have his ex girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) erased from his memory, just as she did the same to him. As his memories are being erased, we go backwards through his memories with Clementine that shows the tragic end to their relationship. But as we go further through his memories, he realizes that he had a lot of validating experiences with her too. Even though the pain of the break-up and losing Clementine seems almost too much to bear, he’d rather keep those good memories.
I feel that the main message of the movie was that even if we could erase the hurtful memories of unpleasant experiences, they are inherently a part of us and we need them in order to grow. Both Joel and Clementine find out that they have both erased each other after inexplicably finding each other again, and they both know that they’ll just make the same mistakes again, but they need that experience with the other to move on. However, since the experience was erased from their memories, they WILL make those mistakes again, because they don’t remember what they learned the first time around, sadly. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is not a love story, but a love-letter to the genius of pain.
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Coming up now we have McEric who talks about the time Jim put on a mask and kicked some ass for America!
After a few years of relative silence (aside from a family film about penguins), Jim dipped a toe back in the spotlight with a few smaller roles in 2013, appearing as a David Blaine-type in THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE, a quick appearance as a brawler in ANCHORMAN 2, and (my favorite) as the born-again Christian superhero Colonel Stars and Stripes in KICK-ASS 2. Donning minor prosthetics to complete the transition from page-to-screen and utilizing a voice unlike any before, Carrey completely lost himself in the role of the reformed hero.
His performance was lauded by many, particularly the filmmakers, themselves. Even when he refused to do any press tours for the ultra-violent film in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy the filmmakers supported him, stating “The thing about Jim is we love him in these movies because you never know what he is going to do or say, and I'm here to tell you, in real life, you never know what he is going to do or say.” If fresh unpredictability and a willingness to disappear into a character for the sake of the project are hallmarks of an excellent actor, Carrey excels at his craft on this performance, alone.
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I guess I’ll jump in here and go next. My pick is one of the first looks we ever got at the darker side of Carrey’s on-screen persona.
Jim Carrey was at the height of his popularity in 1996. He had just come off a string of hit comedy films capped off by appearing as "The Riddler" in the mega-successful BATMAN FOREVER. He was officially a massive star and box office draw. So, what does he do next?
He stars in a very dark comedy directed by Ben Stiller. Stiller at the time was not seen as a sure thing at all. Still, Carrey signed on to THE CABLE GUY in the titular role and audiences reacted... well about the way you would expect them to. They were puzzled and downright hostile towards the darker turn from Carrey as the emotionally disturbed, customer stalking lead character. The film was not nearly as successful as what Carrey had been doing before but it showed something.
It showed Carrey was a fearless performer who doesn't care about box office potential or really what people think at all and he's shown that throughout his career after THE CABLE GUY. Which is cool and all but you know what? THE CABLE GUY is really entertaining and he's great in it.
Carrey walks the narrow path of the dark comedy better than anyone else in the film. He pivots gracefully from over the top comedy, to genuine menace, and back to pathetic loneliness sometimes all within the same scene. It's a bold performance that gave us our first real look at the kind of multilayered performer that Carrey really is... and I love it.
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As we start to wind down… we move on to AICN's horror-loving goofball, Freddy Beans. ‘The Beans’ talks about the time Carrey paid tribute to another comedic genius…
MAN ON THE MOON –
It’s hard to walk by all the comedic contortionist roles Jim took on early in his career and go with the biopic on a comedian most never heard of. Here I am representin’ though, because Andy Kaufman was a comedic genius, well ahead of his time. He was sort of a Youtuber way before Youtube was a thing. Simply creating odd situations of discomfort and forming wild entertainment out of those bizarre scenarios. In a way it’s very akin to Jim Carrey’s comedy. It’s loud, in your face, and makes you feel uncomfortable at times, but there’s a tiny heart buried in there beyond all the physical comedy and discomfort. I suppose that’s why, for me, he nailed MAN ON THE MOON.
MAN ON THE MOON is a biopic of Andy Kaufman played masterfully by Jim Carrey. Jim nails the subtle voice and subdued mannerisms of Andy along with the loud and boorish behavior of Tony Clifton, the lounge singer (Andy’s alter ego). Andy made his name in comedy yet famously said “I am not a comic, I have never told a joke” and he was right. He didn’t need to. His comedy was much more cerebral, testing comfort zones and plucking smiles hidden along the way. Whether he dusted off an old record player to mimic the 7 word motif of the super-powered rodent or picked a fight with the Jerry “The King” Lawler he embodied his characters completely. His comedy tended to leave victims in its path and oddly enough that path took Andy unfortunately too. When he died in 1984 at the too young age of 35 many didn’t believe it was real. Most seeing his disappearance, as yet another unseen act, from the unique mind of Mr. Kaufman, there simply wasn’t a lot of sympathy. I’ll bet SNOPES has had to debunk Andy Kaufman rumors living life here even in 2018. (Takes a sec and returns with the evidence to back his theory)
OK… OK I guessed, 2014 isn’t so far off, ya know.
I’m clearly an Andy Kaufman fan and didn’t want Jim Carrey playing Andy at all when it was announced.
1999 rolls around and I’m so afraid of this movie I can’t even explain it. Andy is already a man no one truly understands or gets. Making a movie about him risked outing what made him unique, while also risking a joke telling comedian to ruin Andy’s jokeless act. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Jim nailed it and really opened my eyes to his abilities. Then ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND comes around and I’m not sure why I ever doubted him. Jim Carrey has had so many great roles, many created out of thin air with his outrageous personality. MAN ON THE MOON is one of his more subdued roles. Or it feels that way to me, maybe it’s the man he’s aping. He’s fully in character and fell into this role like Alice does the rabbit hole. If you weren’t satisfied with MAN ON THE MOON and wanted to know more about how the role came to be Jim’s then I would recommend you seek out JIM AND ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND. It’s a fantastic documentary that shows how hard Jim pushed for this role and then transformed himself into Andy Kaufman, even if to the detriment of some of the other cast.
Can’t make a shiny stone without some sand right?
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We finish up today with someone who has been with AICN since almost the very beginning, the wonderful and talented Annette Kellerman. I asked her to pick one film and when she came back with “I’m doing two films because I love them both and I can’t decide.” Who was I to tell the O.G. of this place no? So, I leave you with Ms. Kellerman’s take on two early films in the career of Jim Carrey.
Like many of you, I have a soft spot for the early works of artists who have gone on to achieve ellusive Hollywood success. So when it was suggested to write a bit about our favorite Jim Carrey effort, I’d be a total liar liar (sorry, couldn’t help myself) if I didn’t admit that the first two films that popped into my head were the oft-ignored 80’s gems ONCE BITTEN and EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY.
In EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY, Carrey and his fellow furry aliens (Jeff Goldblum and Damon Wayans. I repeat, JEFF GOLDBLUM and DAMON WAYANS!) crash land on earth and befriend former MTV veejay and flash-in-the-pan pop phenom Julie Brown (not to be confused with Downtown Julie Brown of Club MTV fame). Anyhoo, once the boys get a serious makeover- including copious amounts of Nair depilatory cream- it turns out that they are all smoking hot. Which is funny, because while most people don’t necessarily associate heartthrob looks with Jim Carrey, I was most definitely crushing on him in my HBO-addicted adolescence. Not only was he obviously a gifted character actor already mugging for the camera, he was also extremely easy on the eyes. There was also that tongue thing...google it.
So speaking of hormones and HBO, another little-known opus of Carrey’s that I was already obsessing over at the time was the reversed-roles vampire flick ONCE BITTEN. Yes, I’m the girl who actually recognized Carrey in EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY from his previous turn as the young man taken by vixen/cougar/vampire Lauren Hutton. Dang, they just don’t make movies like that anymore. Carrey’s innocent character is seduced by the vamp who needs to feed three times from a virgin to maintain her youth. Carrey’s gradual metamorphosis into a devilishly handsome member of the undead is swoon-worthy enough, but when he emerges from a coffin smoking a post-coital cig with his college girlfriend hence thwarting the vampiress’ scheme and saving himself from a life of bloodsucking... let’s just say the film provided much fodder for my young, impressionable mind. Also, did I mention where on his body he got bit? Yowza.
Needless to say, Carrey went on to wow me with his comedic antics as well as crushingly poignant dramatic prowess later on, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for his hunky early work.
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So, there you have it! We picked our favorites… now it’s your turn! Let us know in the comments below what your favorite Jim Carrey performances are and if you want to feel free to use this place to share your thoughts on the premiere of, his new Showtime series, KIDDING.
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