[Picture of projector]

Laramie Movie Scope:
Man on the Moon

Jim Carrey goes for the Academy Award again

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

January 9, 2000 -- The only problem with Jim Carrey's performance as comedian Andy Kaufman in "Man on the Moon" is that he makes it look too easy. Carrey is brilliant in the role, dissolving without a trace into his character. Maybe this will get him that academy award for best actor which eluded him last year for some reason.

I never liked Andy Kaufman's act, except for his Elvis impersonation, which was pretty good. Kaufman was misunderstood, and I think the film helped me to understand him a little better. The film shows that he brought these misunderstandings on himself by playing with the minds of his audience. His act has been described by some as anti-entertainment.

One of the saddest moments in the film comes when he reveals to his closest friends that he has cancer. They don't believe him, they think it is just another of Andy's gags. That is warped. The film suggests that Andy always wanted to be an entertainer, but audiences didn't appreciate him. They hurt him so that he fought back with anti-entertainment. At times, he punishes his audience. In one performance, the audience won't accept the act he has prepared for them, so he reads an entire book to them, "The Great Gatsby," as punishment.

The different personas that Andy Kaufman uses are also weapons in his arsenal. He hides behind these personas and he uses them to vent his frustration. Most rational people know that not all acts are successful, that sometimes people won't like you. Andy never seems to quite get it. He feels that performance is a right, not a privilege.

The wrestling bit is another thing the movie explains pretty well. There are some good scenes involving the wrestling acts and how they are set up. The concluding performance at Carnegie Hall, after all the gimmicks, is quite entertaining and it lets us, maybe, see a little of the real Andy Kaufman at his best. Besides Carrey's bravura work, Courtney Love (of "The People Vs. Larry Flynt") does a nice turn as Andy's wrestling opponent, and later, his girlfriend, Lynne Margulies. Danny DeVito ("The Rainmaker") is very good as George Shapiro, Andy's Manager. Paul Giamatti ("Saving Private Ryan") is great as Bob Zmuda, Andy's best friend and partner in many acts.

The opening sequence of the film is a little gimmicky as director Milos Forman ("Amadeus") tries to do an Andy Kaufman-like number on the audience. It is a little irritating, but I notice it did keep the audience around to the end of the credits, just to see Kaufman stick his head around the corner of the screen one more time to peer at the audience in ghostly black and white. This film rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2000 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]