Anyone who has been a regular reader of Love Your Movies knows that we love the undervalued. One of these films is 1999’s Milos Forman’s Man On The Moon starring Jim Carrey as the incomparable Andy Kaufman. After receiving mixed reviews at it’s release Jim Carrey went on to win his second straight Golden Globe for his portrayal of the legendary comedian.
The film chronicles Kaufman’s life from childhood thru his rise to fame with his unique and unconventional brand of humor. From the stages of L.A.’s fame Comedy Store to the set of TV’s Taxi Andy Kaufman made audiences laugh heartily and uncomfortably with his one of a kind brand of comedy. The movie examined and touched on subjects such as his Tony Clifton character to his “wrestling” career to his final legendary performance at Carnegie Hall. Andy Kaufman was a one of a kind individual who hated his fame but loved his talents. He alienated cast members and fellow comedians but in the end most of them saw what he was doing as border line genius. The film revealed the truth behind his battles with wrestler Jerry Lawler but still left a little wonderment as to if his death was his greatest joke. The numerous cameo appearances are a testament to peoples love for Kaufman and his ability. Notably left off the cameo list was Tony Danza who famously did not get along with Kaufman at all, therefore his was the only Taxi cast member not to appear in the movie. Everyone form his friend and writer Bob Zmuda to the local memphis ring announcer who called his matches with Lawler.
The shinning star of this movie was Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Kaufman and his flawless performance. Within a few minutes of Carrey appearing on screen the audience is left feeling as if they are watch Kaufman himself instead of Carrey. Carrey gives a once in a career performance and while he was honored at the Globes he was snubbed for a second straight year at the Academy Awards despite being one of the best actors of the year.
Courtney Love once again proved she had what it takes to work along side Hollywood heavyweights for her second film with Forman having previously been brilliant in The People vs. Larry Flynt. She played Kaufman’s long time girlfriend/companion Lynne Margulies.
The artistic comedy of Kaufman is not for everyone. He was an aquired taste that not everyone will like. he none the less made his mark on the comedy world and whether he wanted to or not, he left a mark on the sitcom world with his lovable character Latka. Kaufman was different but not a bad guy. He saw things differently and expressed himself behind a mask of characters. While he hid most of his life people never really got a chance to know who he really was, or maybe that IS who he really was.