Combustible Celluloid
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
Own it:
With: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Paul Giamatti, Courtney Love, Jerry Lawler, Richard Belzer, Bob Zmuda, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Caroline Rhea, Tracey Walter, David Koechner
Written by: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Directed by: Milos Forman
MPAA Rating: R for language and brief sexuality/nudity
Running Time: 118
Date: 12/20/1999

Man on the Moon (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Foreign Man

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jim Carrey playing Andy Kaufman is a little like Buster Keaton playing Charlie Chaplin. Sure, he can pull it off. He's no method actor, he doesn't quite look like Kaufman, and that Jim Carrey persona is always there. But no one else can understand Kaufman like Carrey can. Carrey gets inside Kaufman's skin.

Carry has the weight of the entire movie on his shoulders, and he's like a circus strongman trying to hold up the tent by himself. The screenplay by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, whose other work (Ed Wood and The People vs. Larry Flynt) I greatly admire, skims over Kaufman's life in a hurry. Director Milos Forman, whose work has always been so meticulous and craftsmanlike, seems asleep at the wheel. Likewise, talented actors Danny DeVito, Courtney Love, and others have nothing to do in their supporting roles.

I'm a pretty big Kaufman fan, and I found little in Man on the Moon that I didn't know before. This is a movie for newcomers, which is fine. The movie has fun playing little tricks on us, especially during the opening and closing credits. And I can't understate the power of Carrey's spectacular achievement. I've found myself thinking about his performance again and again since I saw the movie some weeks ago. It is really something quite spectacular and makes this movie worth a look.

In 2022, Kino Lorber released a great-looking Special Edition Blu-ray, in a new 2K transfer, approved and color graded by cinematographer Anastas Michos. It includes a commentary track by writers Alexander and Karaszewski, recorded conversations between the writers and director Forman, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, music videos for R.E.M.'s "Man on the Moon" and "The Great Beyond," and a trailer. Recommended.

Movies Unlimtied