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Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Retro Review: Man On The Moon (1999)

Man On The Moon
Cast: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Courtney Love, Paul Giamatti 
Genre: Biographical Comedy- Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $42 million

Plot: The life & career of a legendary comedian, Andy Kaufman 

'An Amazing Jim Carrey Performance Is Marred By A Distinctly Average Movie'

I love the song 'Man on the Moon' by R.E.M, as well the one they recorded for this film's soundtrack, 'The Great Beyond', but I went into Man On The Moon, not knowing very much about Andy Kaufman, other than he was in the sitcom, Taxi, alongside Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd.

Writers Alexander and Karaszewski wrapped up their trio of 1990s biopics, Ed Wood (1994) and The People vs Larry Flint (1996) with Man On The Moon, as well as produced by Danny DeVito, this is a biopic story based on the late comedian and actor's rise to fame, his struggles and his uncertain demise & death in 1984. 

Based on what I saw of this portrayal, this Andy Kaufman character, persona, celebrity, whoever you may wish to call him, was not exactly a nice person, but a bit of a loose cannon who insults the audience and has no qualms in hitting women. & whilst many people see him as a comedy genius, nothing in this movie, and but for his turns in the sitcom, Taxi convinced me enough to be a fan of his style of comedy and humour. 

Jim Carrey was nothing short of wonderful here, capturing Andy Kaufman's mannerisms, his voice when he speaks, his attempts at humour, his mania and his comedy style. It was to a tee. It was at this point that the success of this film and the high praise he received for his portrayal as Kaufman that he went on to make a name for himself as a dramatic actor in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Even though he doesn't have an extensive resume of movie work under his belt, which I so wished he had, Carrey is still one of my favourite movie stars and actors and I enjoy his brand of comedy, despite some of the flops he has had (Batman Forever & The Number 13) Bruce Almighty was okay, even though I wasn't into the whole religious aspect of it. He has been predominately known as a comedic actor and performer through his work on TV show, In Living Color and films such as Ace Ventura, Dumb & Dumber, Liar Liar & whilst those are the types of projects stuffy critics prefer him not to do and as they are the lowest form of entertainment in their eyes, they have brought me joy. But it is also good of him to stretch his abilities and do serious roles, which are few and far between. He was so deserving of his Golden Globe for his performance here and yet even to this day, his efforts as Kaufman still go unnoticed by many. Carrey is Kaufman and he subsumes the role as if he was Kaufman. I couldn't have anybody else but him in the role, he was just the perfect fit. 

I thought it was an excellent idea to have the cast of Taxi in the movie and as it brings more relevance to it. There is also an appearance by wrestler Jerry ''The King'' Lawler.

As a film, the story just never really exploded, despite its moments such as the wrestling scene and fight between Kaufman and a crew member that turned out to be a prank and as such I was bored senseless. It also played things far too straight and given the guy was supposed to be a funnyman, there just wasn't enough examples which illustrated that Kaufman was that type of person. The writers left out so many hilarious and wonderful and colourful moments from his past life. Plus, it lacked a theme for me to follow through. It was just scenes of Kaufman experiencing his share of highs and lows.

Suffice to say, it just never dug deep enough. 


Final Verdict:

Probably the last significant movie before the turn of the 21st century, Man On The Moon just about survives on the strength of Jim Carrey's standout performance & impersonation of Andy Kaufman. Yet the writers blew it by playing this film a tad too safe and never really going that far and beyond a persona of a man that many others felt was closer to madness than man-child.  

The direction this film took and how it played out, was not what I had envisioned, and not how I'd wanted it to turn out. 

Man On The Moon is a great vehicle for Jim Carrey's dramatic acting talents, in addition to 2 or 3 off-my-seat moments, but that is as far as it goes because as a movie, its execution and one-dimensional stance leave a lot to be desired.  


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