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Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond Review

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond is a 2017 documentary about the behind-the-scenes look at how Jim Carrey adopted the persona of idiosyncratic comedian Andy Kaufman on the set of Man on the Moon.

No matter your opinion of Jim Carrey, there is no denying the incredible contribution to entertainment he’s had over his many years in the business, from his early stand-up to his work on television to his amazing evolution in film from slapstick comedy to heavy drama. If there is anything that can be said for him, its his obvious commitment to his craft that has long resonated with his fans and critics, even if he has, on reported occasions, gone to extremes. Never more has that been suggested than on the set of Milos Forman‘s Man on the Moon (1999), a biopic about Andy Kaufman where Carrey fell fully immersed into the character, so much so that it seems to have had permanent affect. 

Chris Smith‘s latest documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond is a curious film that sits Carrey down as he reflects on his experience, revealing to the public for the first time actual footage of a crew who followed Carrey around on the set as he remained in character throughout the duration, on and off set. Carrey confesses that the spirit of Kaufman came to him when he was cast, tapped him on the shoulder, and took over, removing Jim from the equation. That put the real crew of the movie and especially Forman in a real bind as “Jim Carrey” was not on available, that only Kaufman and his alter-ego Tony Clifton could be addressed. We are shown clip after clip of Carrey in character(s) trampling over everything while everyone around him can’t seem to understand or keep up, asking each other what are they going to do?

Carrey confesses to a “Hyde” inside of him that has long shaped his career as being crucial in his portrayal of Kaufman. Images of exasperated actors and crew become common as Kaufman steadily consumes Carrey. But we learn it’s not the only time, as he tells how each film he’s done has been transformative, where each have kind of been a statement of where he was at during filming. From The Mask to The Truman Show to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the characters in these stories are representative of himself, where parts of him are the people on screen. We realize of course that the footage (shot by Kaufman’s actual former girlfriend Lynne Margulies and his partner Bob Zmuda – who are portrayed by Courtney Love an Paul Giamatti in the film) allows Carrey to stay in character, serving as a kind of catalyst for the performance, which in turn helped shape the divide in him as a person now.

There are several highly observational moments in Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, where Carrey opens up about his life and family, and the almost mythical journey he’s had through all of this, which has clearly been impactful for the actor. He firmly believes that Andy Kaufman possessed him in those months on set, that he was off the planet, that everything he did then were choices made by Kaufman, including a huge public stunt with wrestler Jerry Lawler that came to imitate life itself. These are intimate revelations that Carrey let’s loose, comparing all that is happening to him now as a reality of Seaside, the imagined domed city in The Truman Show, staring right into the camera and stripping layers away that reshapes much about who we think this gifted talent is. While Man in the Moon changed Carrey as a person, Jim & Andy may very well change us, at least how we perceive Carrey and his entire body of work. It’s haunting to have him look upon us and say that the ‘disappearing’ is what fascinates him now. For fans who have clung to the energy and mystery of him, it’s a challenging moment. Who is Jim Carrey? The answer is deeply heartfelt and ultimately remarkable.

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond Review

Movie description: Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond is a 2017 documentary about the behind-the-scenes look at how Jim Carrey adopted the persona of idiosyncratic comedian Andy Kaufman on the set of Man on the Moon.

Director(s): Chris Smith

Actor(s): Peter Bonerz, Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito

Genre: Documentary

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