Friday, January 5, 2018

Movie Review: "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond" (2017)

Director: Chris Smith
Year: 2017
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

A look behind the scenes at the making of the Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon" and how playing Kaufman affected actor Jim Carrey's entire life.

There are a lot of method actors in Hollywood. A few who instantly come to mind are Daniel Day-Lewis, Dustin Hoffman, Christian Bale, and more recently, Jared Leto. "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton" features Jim Carrey telling the story of his personal venture into method acting when he played the late Andy Kaufman for the 1999 film "Man on the Moon." The film consists of an ongoing interview with Carrey himself as he recounts the experience of becoming Kaufman juxtaposed with archival behind the scenes footage of the making of "Man on the Moon" featuring the cast, crew, and Kaufman's actual family. The footage featured in this documentary has been kept on the shelf for years because the studio feared how it would make Jim Carrey look. They were concerned that if the footage ever got out to the public, it might not only destroy the career of one of the biggest stars in Hollywood but more importantly would hurt the box office and awards potential for their film.

About 18 years have passed since the release of "Man on the Moon." It has won all the awards it was ever going to win. It has made about as much money as it was ever going to make. Now, Jim Carrey's star has faded. Once, Carrey was a $20-million-dollar man, and over the last two decades, he has slowly but steadily become the creepy uncle nobody really wants to talk about anymore. The studio has finally seen fit to allow Carrey to release the behind the scenes footage from the making of "Man on the Moon," which definitely doesn't show him in the best light. It begs the question: when does being a 'method' actor and getting fully into character for the sake of art cross the line into just being a difficult asshole? Andy Kaufman was known as a bit of a prankster and was often difficult to work with. Carrey heavily embraced this aspect of his character and regularly set out to be a prankster, causing intentional dust-ups and was being belligerent toward his fellow cast members. The most noteworthy behind the scenes kerfuffle was a conflict he had with professional wrestler Jerry Lawler, who Jim regularly taunted on set. Lawler felt Carrey's actions were the opposite of what Kaufman himself had done when behind closed doors, and Carrey used being 'method' as an excuse to be a wretched jerk.

Truth be told, we are a little on the fence about "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond." On the one hand, it is a somewhat interesting look at the filmmaking and acting processes. It goes deep into what it means for an actor to not break character and shows how one can immerse themselves in a part. On the other hand, it is very self-indulgent and lacks depth. It's no wonder why the studio locked this footage up for decades because it makes Jim Carrey look like an obnoxious dickhead. The way Carrey views this era is a little off-putting and borderline insane at times. In the end, this documentary is sometimes engaging, but as it moves along its runtime, we started to lose interest in the overall story and it gets a bit dull because it's so repetitive in nature.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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