Jim Carrey is often considered as a comic genius, but he is much more than that, at least something his ardent fans believe after his incredible performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The interview documentary film, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond discuss his approach and methods (as pseudo nerds call it) towards characterization of one’s of his most difficult character, Andy Kaufman for biography film, Man on the Moon (1999).
Many cynics still believe that Jim is a comedy actor, but the documentary might change some opinions as you witness the transformation of Jim into Andy.
“The comedian’s promise is that he will go out there and make you laugh with him… My only promise is that I will try to entertain you as best I can.”Andy Kaufman
Who was Andy Kaufman?
Phew! Andy Kaufman is simply someone who is beyond description as he evades all the cliches of your imaginations regarding comedy by simply being him. He was the epitome of simplicity and genuinity, as throughout his career he always looked at everything from his perspective and according to him he was not a “comedian”, but a performance artist. Andy in his own words was simply the “song and dance man” and that is in sheer congruence with what his career as he wasn’t providing the audience with conventional comedy. While the stand-up routines were gaining popularity amongst the masses, Andy Kaufman lip-syncing to the midwestern musical classics is hilarious. He was a wrestler too who wouldn’t shy away from suplexing his audience and taunting “Who wants to fight with me”.
Milos Forman and the family of Andy were looking for an actor who would be convincing even to be accepted as an accurate imitation of Kaufman. Andy Kaufman was the person who would utter his mind out at every occasion because he was the guy who didn’t care about how the audience would receive him. Jim Carrey wanted to be that actor and his audition tape for Andy is acting in its purest form. To top this off the eccentric lounge singer act of Kaufman had his own take on everything, including the actor playing him.
Jim Carrey Transitions into Andy
In every era there are films that re-define the limits of acting and ‘Man On The Moon’ does that with perfection. Jim Carrey simply embodies the characters to the extent where Jim became invisible for the cast and crew. As the documentary suggests, the 100+ hours of behind the scene footage was at the disposal of director Chris Smith to amalgamate the “real documentary” as documented by the people in it.
Carrey’s method-acting is something that is already known by everyone and in this documentary he allows the audience to have a look at the delirium ridden beautiful chaos in an actor’s head. Being Tony Clifton liberated him to dissect his own self, whilst the Andy in him provided avenues for Jim to introspect and grow as an actor. He documents every emotion with psychological reasoning which makes the documentary even more engaging for the audience as we learn how difficult it is to “act”. He reflects upon his own characters like Truman and the Mask and how he persisted in the industry where even his heartbreaks were cherished as his performances benefited from agony in his real life.
A Cinematic Brilliance
The director Chirs Smith who doesn’t dwell around the celebrity documentary genre does an amazing work as he is able to convey Jim’s resonance with Andy Kaufman and his thought process. The editing is quite satisfactory and swiftly allows the story of Andy to prevail within the story of Jim. The music and background could have been better as the better part of the documentary counts upon the voice of Jim Carrey to carry the film and for most of the part it does.
In conclusion, Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond is a documentary that finds subtle sadness that undertones the larger than life charisma of Andy Kaufman and Tony Clifton.