Image via IMDB
Directed by Chris Smith (The Pool, Collapse)
Cinematography Brantley Gutierrez
Edited by Barry Poltermann (American Movie, Zedd: True Colors)
Produced by Brendan Fitzgerald (Abandoned, Cyberwar), Danny Gabai (The Bad Batch, The Beach Bum), Spike Jonze (Her, Three Kings), Chris Smith
Starring Jim Carrey (The Mask, Liar Liar, The Truman Show), Danny DeVito (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The War of the Roses), Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus), Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man, Straight Outta Compton), Jerry Lawler (Girls Gone Dead, Man on the Moon)
Over the past few weeks, my wife and I have been binge-watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. We hadn’t seen it before so when we began the series I was determined not to Google any spoilers and enjoy the incredible progression of Walter White’s character into Heisenberg. When the show was over and my nerves had finally calmed down, I experienced what we all call “show hole.” And let me tell you, I was in free fall. To curb this feeling, I began writing music reviews for this blog again and even reviewed a couple of films.
I have determined not to get into another binge-worthy show until some more time has passed. Until that time, my wife and I have been watching a few good flicks on Amazon Prime and Netflix as we try to pick and choose the new releases. One evening, we stumbled upon this documentary entitled Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. We watched the trailer and were intrigued. Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman are both household names, but I wasn’t as familiar with Kaufman. I discovered through the trailer that Kaufman was Carrey’s idol, and Carrey had the privilege of portraying his idol in Man on the Moon in 1999. I’ve always known Carrey was a bit of a nut who didn’t take himself very seriously, but what I didn’t know was that in his impersonation of Kaufman, he literally lost himself. This Netflix documentary shows behind the scenes footage of the incredible, yet alarming performance by Carrey and the mental stress that the cast and crew suffered.
Universal Studios didn’t want this behind the scenes footage released, because they didn’t want fans thinking Jim Carrey was an a-hole. Those are the actual words that Jim Carrey was told. Jim Carrey did not makes choices based on what Jim does, he makes decisions based on what Andy does. He wouldn’t answer to “Jim”; he would only answer to “Andy.” He may have gone too far.
Image via Netflix
The documentary shows a great deal of archived footage of Andy Kaufman and Tony Clifton, one of Kaufman’s created characters. Most of the documentary has Carrey narrating, recalling his time on the set of Man on the Moon. He can’t seem to recollect everything because he was into character almost all of the time. His driver during those days even said that it wasn’t always Jim Carrey that woke up in the morning. Sometimes it was Kaufman, and other times it was Clifton. No one knew what to do when Kaufman or Clifton took over for Carrey. It reminded me of Edward Norton in Primal Fear when he would “lose the time” and go absolutely berserk on someone. He would take on a different persona as someone possibly possessed and make everyone around him uncomfortable. These moments were plenty on the set of Man on the Moon.
The performances seen in the archived footage by Kaufman are wild and exhilarating, and Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Kaufman and Clifton are nothing short of spectacular. According to Jim, when he went on Hyde shows up even for his stand up. It’s a good Hyde – not a bad Hyde, but it’s still a Hyde. Jim Carrey loses control once he goes on stage for his performances as he aims to help the audience forget their troubles, so he portrays a guy that doesn’t have any worries.
(Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman – Image via Coming Soon)
When Carrey portrayed his idol Andy Kaufman on Man on the Moon, he completely lost himself in character. From a director’s viewpoint, Jim Carrey is nowhere in sight, and this becomes extremely stressful for Milos Forman, Man on the Moon’s director. Eventually, Forman confronts Tony Clifton, and informs him that Kaufman is wearing him out, and he wishes to speak with him. He also tells Clifton he wishes to speak to Jim. The past few weeks for Forman have been exhausting, and he has had enough.
As usual with Jim Carrey, antics abound, and with the behind the scenes footage, while portraying Tony Clifton on the movie set, Carrey attempts to meet Steven Spielberg and relay to him that not all of his movies need to be crowd pleasing. Spielberg wasn’t in his office, but this still causes a ruckus for Spielberg’s aides and a rather awkward situation.
Carrey even goes as far as picking on professional wrestler Jerry Lawler like a petulant child would. Years ago, Lawler and Kaufman had their dispute via a wrestling match, and would later become friends. This friendship led them to stage a fight between the two on David Letterman’s show where Lawler slapped Kaufman’s face and Kaufman threw coffee at Lawler during a curse-laden rage. Due to Carrey’s constant ribbing of Lawler, Lawler loses his cool and even threatens to throw down on Jim Carrey. Honestly, he probably deserved it. His constant, childish antics were a bit much.
(Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler on David Letterman – Image via Bleacher Report)
There was a moment during filming that Carrey received a dose of reality. The crew was recreating the match between Kaufman and Lawler that saw Kaufman fake a neck injury and go to the hospital. The move by Lawler that gave Kaufman his fake injury was the pile driver, and Carrey wanted the pile driver. The insurance companies on the film were having none of it, so Carrey secretly asked Lawler to do it on their last take. Lawler didn’t consent, and Carrey became furious. In an interview, Lawler recalls his days working with Carrey on Man on the Moon.
“…he comes right over and gets right in my face. His veins are bulging out the side of his neck; I’m looking at him like he’s nuts. And he just looks at me and spits right in my face. Spits a big hocker right in my face! And I just lost it.”
Like Kaufman, Carrey found himself in a hospital, but this time it was for real. This event led to the firing of Lawler, but eventually he was brought back on to finish filming.
The documentary closes things out with the news of Kaufman’s lung cancer and Jim Carrey giving his thoughts on how he’s lived his life, and even though he loved portraying his idol, there hasn’t been a day where he’s missed it. He’s just living life one day at a time and enjoying it.
Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond was a gripping and eye-opening documentary that is well worth 90 minutes of your time.