Anthony's Film Review

Man on the Moon (1999)

Stunning performance by Jim Carrey brings to life a very eccentric man...

Whenever I say that Jim Carrey brings Andy Kaufman to life in Man on the Moon, there is a sense of eeriness to it. Not only did the real Andy Kaufman already pass away, but also Jim Carrey's portrayal of Andy is so strikingly on target that it's like having Andy Kaufman waking up from death to be in this movie. Also, consider the fact that both men were born on January 17th of different years. To top it off, Jim Carrey insisted he be called Andy Kaufman through the entire production of the movie. This is one of those movies where the actor and the person in real life being portrayed are virtually identical.

Man on the Moon is both a movie about the weird Andy Kaufman and an R.E.M. song about Andy Kaufman. An early scene features Andy as a kid, performing a puppet show for an imaginary audience while his father insists he perform in front of real people. That is a sign of what is to come. He grows up to be a performer who really amuses only himself. When he does an Elvis impersonation in a club, the audience cheers, and when he thanks the audience in a high-pitch voice, the audience laughs. Yet, he doesn't know why they're laughing.

But he is nevertheless offered an opportunity to be on television, most notably Saturday Night Live and Taxi. Then the outrageous antics really start. For one thing, Andy has the idea of adjusting the television camera vertical hold just to make the audience think their own television sets are having a problem. And he thinks it's funny. If that isn't bad enough, consider Andy's other offenses, including dressing as an obnoxious lounge singer named Tony Clifton and wrestling with women. The latter surprisingly leads to a love interest in Lynne Margulies, one of the few people who choose to stand by Andy despite being hated by so many.

The movie is both a comedy and a drama, though it is much more serious than funny. Sure, there are scenes that generate genuine laughter, like the first scene featuring some of the end credits. But there are other scenes that make you laugh reluctantly, then stop in suspense, before you laugh in relief. Sometimes you don't know how to react until you find out it's just a gag.

This is very much the kind of reaction people had when Andy was alive. This eccentric performer relied on tricking the public for amusement, no matter how heated things would get before revealing the truth. But the film's most dramatic moments are towards the end. Andy eventually comes to the realization that there's a price to pay for what he has done.

What I like about the film is how I myself never knew who Andy Kaufman was, yet I understood what made him either loved or hated. This was someone who truly was a man on the moon, out of touch with reality and the rest of society. Overall, I think Jim Carrey pulled it off fantastically. I cannot imagine any other actor in the shoes of Andy. If there was a man so misunderstood during his life, it was Andy Kaufman. Thanks to this movie, we get to see the real side of this mysterious man.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Man on the Moon, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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