Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
Actors are a strange lot by nature. When performing on stage or screen, they have to convince us they are someone else, that even though we know they are playing a part, every actor wants us to believe they are that person and not the actor. Some actors like Daniel Day Louis have been known to stay in character between scenes in order to better play the role. Recently, James Franco directed The Disaster Artist in the voice of Tommy Wiseau so that he wouldn’t lose the cadence and the weird accent that Wiseau talked with.
In 1998 Jim Carey was at the top of Hollywood, coming off a string of hits like Ace Ventura, The Truman Show and Liar Liar. He would team with two-time Oscar-winning director Milos Forman to make Man on the Moon, the story of the late, great comedian Andy Kaufman. Little did Forman know that Carey was going to stay in character throughout the filming, not only becoming Andy Kaufman but also Kaufman as Tony Clifton, a vulgar lounge singer whom Kaufman often portrayed on talk shows and in his standup routine. Carey allowed a film crew total access to the set to get a behind the scenes look at the making of the film. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond is a documentary that uses that footage to give us a look at the madness of making Man on the Moon. We learn that the footage has been in Carey’s office for the past 20 years. The footage was never used as the studio decided it was just too weird for an audience, that releasing the footage would hurt the film, not help it.
The film is full of fascinating facts, like that Carey was given Andy Kaufman’s famous bongos (they were a part of Kaufman’s notable appearances on Saturday Night Live and the Tonight Show) by the Kaufman family sometime before Carey had to audition for the role using those very bongos. Lynne Margulies, Andy Kaufman’s girlfriend, shot the footage for the behind-the-scenes film, which must have been pretty surreal for her. Carey explains that basically, Kaufman took over his performance, that he was no longer in control. There is a scene very early in the film that sums up what happened when making Man on the Moon. Milos Forman is talking to Jim Carey in full Andy Kaufman makeup and actor Paul Giamatti who plays Kaufman’s writing partner, Bob Zmuda. He tells Giamatti ‘You start now when Andy steps in.’ You can see the confusion on Forman’s face when Carey says, “When me, I step in.” They continue to talk back and forth with Carey insisting that he is Andy and that Forman must address him as such. Giamatti tells the camera “It’s really weird, totally surreal.’ That perfectly sums up the rest of the movie as Carey becomes more and more Kaufman as the filming goes on.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond is a look into almost madness as Carey pushes the boundaries of reality. At one point Carey, as Kaufman gets into a heated argument with the actor who is portraying his father, both men staying in character and bringing one of the crew members to tears. The movie moves back and forth from those four months of filming to present day where Carey comments on what was happening at the time. We learn as much about Carey as we do about Kaufman and how similar they think about life and comedy. Carey reveals a lot about himself both as a person and as an actor, and I have a feeling that this film was a catharsis for Carey. The interviews could have come off as self-important/indulgent, but instead, they give a real insight into creativity and how actors deal with it.
I don’t think I would have liked being a part of the crew of that film, but I am so glad that a camera was there to capture the creative madness of Jim Carey as he immersed himself into a role to give us an insight into the magical world of Andy Kaufman. My Rating: I Would Pay to See It Again
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
The film is currently available on Netflix.
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