Plot: Andy Kaufman (Jim Carrey) wants to be the biggest star in the world, but he wants that success on his own terms. His stand up routine bores crowds and has club owners baffled, but over time his oddball antics earn Kaufman some attention and his career begins to blossom. After some exposure on Saturday Night Live, Kaufman finds more fame and is offered the chance to star on a network sitcom, though this is not what he wants to do with his time. But he takes the cash and makes some demands, including some guest roles for his friend Tony Clifton, an abrasive lounge performer dreamed up by Kaufman his friend Bob Zmuda (Paul Giamatti). As he adjust to being part of the pop culture mainstream, Kaufman pushes to find new avenues to express himself and new ways to seek out happiness. Can he find a balance between his negative energies and the creative expression he needs so desperately?
Entertainment Value: This movie was met with critical praise and audience approval, but in the years since it was released, the stories about Jim Carrey’s method acting have eclipsed the movie itself. The role would have a real impact on Carrey, as he dived deep into the mind of Kaufman and essentially lived as the eccentric comic while making Man on the Moon. His performance is quite good, one of Carrey’s best roles, but I wasn’t as awestruck as some viewers. I didn’t see him vanish into the role as some have, but I still think it is a remarkable effort that is imbued with obvious passion. The narrative shows Kaufman’s rise to fame and his detour into pro wrestling, then his battle with cancer that would claim his life. I appreciated seeing some of Kaufman’s greatest hits recreated, but I wish the movie was more in depth about the man himself, not just a rundown of his stunts and time in the limelight. I know some claim this was done to preserve the enigma he was careful to create, but to me, the lack of personal, in depth moments kind of limits what Man in the Moon can do. But it is still a capable, well crafted picture that is a love letter to a unique, eccentric talent. If you’re a fan of Kaufman, Carrey, or this movie, you should also watch Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, the documentary that chronicles the shoot and Carrey’s memories of the role.
The lone nakedness is in a scene where Kaufman wrestles a couple of topless women, so brief and non graphic sexual content. No blood. There’s a psychic surgeon late in the movie, but the blood is from raw meat he handles and is unrelated to any kind of violence whatsoever. The only real violence here is when Kaufman wrestles a couple of women and then Jerry Lawler, but this is stylized, pro wrestling style action, so it is never that intense here. As this movie is about Andy Kaufman, the dialogue is of course hilarious and off the wall at times, especially whenever Tony Clifton happens to be in a scene. I love Clifton, he is so disruptive and over the top, so I had fun anytime he was featured here. As for craziness, Kaufman himself was a mad genius, but the movie tends to stick within biopic drama boundaries. I did appreciate the open however, as it at least captured a little of Kaufman’s style well.
Overall Insanity: 1/10