- 14 Jul - 20 Jul, 2018
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
- 02 Dec - 08 Dec, 2017
The documentary starts with the present-day, Jim Carrey – bearded and wiser, sitting on a chair in front of the camera. He is being interviewed about the time he became Andy Kaufman. The documentary’s full title is Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton, and no, it is not as weird as it sounds.
In 1999, Jim Carrey pursued a role in Man on the Moon (MOTM), an adaptation of eccentric comedian Andy Kaufman’s life, which eventually won him the Golden Globe for Best Actor. The film was notoriously famous because Carrey, who played both Kaufman and Kaufman’s other fictional creation Tony Clifton, went to extreme lengths in the name of method acting. He was Kaufman and Clifton, both on and off the set. Once he attuned himself in the role, the role never let him go – or at least that’s what he tells us.
The documentary is made up of the behind-the-scenes footage that was sitting and collecting dust in Carrey’s office. The studio had banned its use for PR at that time, when Carrey’s method-acting antics put his image on the line. It made sense from the studio’s point of view – they didn’t want Carrey to come out as a bad guy, as the actor himself elaborates.
Now, after almost 20 years, we get to see the madness and the creative onslaught as Carrey goes on a rampage – and you understand the studios’ point of view even more.
With Carrey’s narrative and footage, the documentary builds up a lot of parallels between Andy and Jim from his childhood to the early years in the industry. We see him do improvisational comedy, the same sensibilities of shock-first and then laughter, which was, incidentally, also Kaufman’s style.
On the sets of MOTM, we see Carrey recreating Kaufman’s skits and performance in real life. However, the role’s eccentricity, and Carrey’s indulgence, effected many other events. Carrey recounts the time he was invited to a party at the Playboy Mansion. There he goes as the loud mouthed Tony Clifton, and hangs around Hugh Hefner. Later that evening, the real Jim Carrey arrives, and it is revealed it’s really Kaufman’s friend Bob Zmuda, who dressed up as Tony Clifton at the party. It was similar to what Kaufman did in real life.
The documentary, as a whole is intelligently made by documentarian Chris Smith (American Movie and Collapse). Smith takes Kaufman and Carrey’s story and cohesively brings it to an end.
The film questions if Carrey’s method acting had gone too far, or whether it was just plain and simple pranking on behalf of Andy. It also asks if it was too much fun being Kaufman to let go. That discussion, though, is left open for interpretation. But one thing is clear: the effect of donning too many masks and taking them off is an exercise of will and willingness.
However, the treasure-trove of behind-the-scenes footage just goes to show the love and mayhem people go through for their work. Also not to be forgotten are the people who work with them, because they themselves are no less kooky, or at least resolved at what they do (bless the make-up and production staff working in Hollywood, who have wills of steel, handling all the mental fatigue). •
The film questions if Carrey’s method acting had gone too far, or whether it was just plain and simple pranking on behalf of Andy. It also asks if it was too much fun being Kaufman to let go. That discussion, though, is left open for interpretation.