Netflix Pick – Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony CliftonDecember 5, 2017
This week’s Netflix Pick is a movie made so personally by an actor the lines all but vanish between the performance and the reality of it all. Jim Carrey was one of the highest paid actors when he won the role of Andy Kaufman. He left all that behind for a job that would change his entire existence. Rarely is a movie so powerful it changes your outlook on the world. Man on the Moon is one of those movies and Jim & Andy is justification for it.
The announcement of “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton” created mixed feelings. Man on the Moon is an incredible film about one of the most original human beings to ever walk the earth. That led to excitement. But Man on the Moon came out almost twenty years ago. That led to some skepticism.
The skepticism was totally unfounded. Watching the story behind the story unfold is a very emotional and fascinating experience. Watching Jim Carrey, as himself – all personas aside, is also very interesting. Made of archival footage from Kaufman himself, as well as the making of the film, the story spans decades.
Having watched Man on the Moon without having lived through the Andy Kaufman era it’s easy to see why he was so beloved. The man pushed boundaries. The man pushed so many boundaries it’s as if we wasn’t aware of them at all. He created bizarre characters to cope with his life and did everything except face reality. He played his life out like a sketch but was never disillusioned. Not in any dangerous way anyway.
There’s been some strange interviews and stranger reactions around Jim Carrey’s behavior in recent years. Having watched this documentary it’s clear that Carrey was always a bit odd. Wouldn’t you have to be to be a comedian at his level? The revelations behind his own childhood parallel Kaufman’s. When the movie was announced Carrey didn’t want the role, he felt he had to have it. The interview portion of the show delves deep into Carrey’s philosophies, far deeper than a standard interview on a movie. Hammering home the fact that Man on the Moon was a transformative experience for Carrey as an artist and a man.
Carrey was so determined to land the role of Andy Kaufman he made an unsolicited audition tape for Director Milos Forman. Forman didn’t want Carrey for the role.
Carrey was so deep into the role as Kaufman he embodied the old comedian. Refusing, or unable, to break character he started doing gags and the 24/7 performance Andy himself did. Without spoiling too much fun of the documentary Carrey ran the same kinds of gags Kaufman did along his “friend” (alter ego?) Tony Clifton. The best part? They still worked.
Carrey’s performance was tough on his co-workers. The performance exhausted Forman but he played into Carrey’s game to get the best out of the film he could. Judd Hirsch and Danny DeVito couldn’t get over the similarities in the two men. Even Kaufman’s brother and sister were invested in Carrey’s performance. They felt as if it was some kind of acted out therapy to be able to see their brother one last time.
Jim & Andy doesn’t really go beyond the Jim Carrey of Man on the Moon, nor should it have. Carrey was the movie, was Kaufman, and was at the top of his game when the movie was made. Carrey poured everything of himself into the role to the point where he wasn’t sure who he was when it was over.
If you’re a fan of Man on the Moon Jim & Andy is a MUST WATCH. If you aren’t or have never seen it. Watch it first, then watch the documentary. You will be won over.