Review: “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond”

 
Direction
9.0


 
Acting
9.0


 
Plot
9.0


 
Execution
9.0


 
Total Score
9.0


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Posted November 17, 2017 by

 
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Jim Carrey. The mere mention of this name brings up so many memories as a kid growing up that loved comedies. In Living Color clips, Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask were viewed more times than I can remember. As I got older, his comedy seemed to grow with me. Films like The Cable Guy, Man On the Moon, and Me, Myself, and Irene. These performances proved he could do something a little darker, a little less Carrey-esque, and still bring in a large audience.  Jim Carrey was one of the biggest names in Hollywood as I was growing up and it seems today the only time I hear about him is when he’s seemingly trolling interviewers or dealing with a very personal, yet extremely public, court case. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to see the new Netflix documentary “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (Featuring a very special, contractually obligated mention of Tony Clifton)” if for nothing else than to revisit what I consider to be one of his best performances and hear the man I grew up with speak on it.

The Jim Carrey I used to know appears to not exist anymore. I caught glimpses of him in this film when he’s answering questions with commentary on his own philosophies, but that’s all they were: glimpses. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it at first, hearing him waxing philosophical about never really knowing anybody, never really being anybody. He mentions his past successes but it’s almost like he’s talking about someone who died; someone who no longer is anymore. The question is, did embodying someone known to have pushed the limits on what reality was crush the facade that Carrey believed was his own reality? The answer: yes.

He says that the studio that produced ‘Man on the Moon’, Universal, did not want the footage in this documentary getting out because it would make Carrey look like an asshole. In reality, it gives a deeper insight into what it means to act. How easy it is to become someone else, to live a completely different life for long periods of time, which Carrey then relates to maybe he was acting all of those years when he was just Jim Carrey. When at first I was confused at who this person was being interviewed in the documentary because it was a version I had never seen before, I started to understand what he was saying and I started to think that maybe it’s my fault for holding onto the memories of who he used to be. Maybe I was longing for a person to return that never truly existed.

Scenes of Carrey as Andy Kaufman, or Andy’s alter ego Tony Clifton, show that the cast and crew didn’t know what to think about all of it. It’s such a spot-on impersonation of someone they all knew that the lines of reality began to blur on the set. There’s a moment when Carrey is in the makeup trailer and the man who plays his father in the film, Gerry Becker, begins to treat Carrey as if he is Kaufman and as if Becker is Kaufman’s father Stanley. The two have a heated exchange that leaves one of the makeup artists in tears as it brought back memories of her own life. That’s when you realize that something different than just making a movie was happening on the set.

My favorite exchanges in the documentary, however, were between Carrey as Kaufman and Jerry Lawler. Lawler had a real life bit with Kaufman when he was still alive and trying to become a wrestler that would only wrestle women. While their feud on television seemed real, the two actually had a strong friendship behind the scenes. Needless to say, when Lawler shows up on the set of “Man On the Moon”, he thinks he’s going to be in on the joke but Carrey doesn’t seem to agree that’s how it would go. Verbally harassing Lawler, throwing water at him and his girlfriend, putting juvenile signs on Lawler’s back, and actually spitting on him between takes just became the norm; the norm that Lawler was not okay with. You almost can’t believe, while you’re watching it, that Carrey would take things to that extreme for his art, but as Carrey says himself, it wasn’t him doing those things; it was Andy. The whole film becomes professionals dealing with an alter ego of sorts, but an alter ego that was once a real person, and what happens when the man behind the wheel is actually three different people and never at the same time.

While at the beginning of making the movie, Carrey does come off as an asshole for being so deep in character that those around him can’t deal with him, by the end of the film everything has come full circle. Even as someone who is just watching everything go down, what I couldn’t believe was happening became something I didn’t want to end. It’s such an inspiring performance from Carrey that he actually brought back someone who died. It was therapeutic for Andy’s family because they felt like they got to talk to their brother and son one last time, it was therapeutic for Andy’s real life daughter he gave up for adoption at a young age who met with Carrey as her father and had an hour long discussion with him, and it was therapeutic for Carrey himself because it helped him realize that not everything is as it seems. Reality is changeable. You can be anyone and no one at the same time.

After viewing this film, I realized I will never get the Jim Carrey I had as a kid growing up watching his films and that’s okay. He’s someone different now. And so am I.

“Jim & Andy” is now streaming on Netflix.


DavidRyanM

 


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