Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond
Directed by Chris Smith
Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond. Amazing method actor or eccentric asshole?
By J.G Amphlett©2017 & Marley Amphlett©2017
There is an immediately evident sadness in the eyes of actor, Jim Carrey, as he begins his monologue on Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. Carrey looks exhausted, reflective and speaks incredibly seriously-which contradicts the loud, upbeat showmanship his fans are used to.Over the course of his career the ‘Man with the rubber face’ has indeed had many faces. It was back in 1994 that his stardom began to rise. ‘Ace Ventura’, ‘The Mask’ and ‘The Riddler’ are all silly, obnoxious, charismatic and wild characters that would probably be familiar to the average movie connoisseur.
Even if you are not particularly a fan of Carrey, this documentary tells a fascinating narrative of the parallels between Carrey and a man he idolized and would ultimately portray, unorthodox comedian, Andy Kaufman.
Andy Kaufman is best known for playing Latka Gravas from 1978-1983 in the ABC sitcom, ‘Taxi.’ Kaufman has publically stated that despite the success of the show, he didn’t enjoy the role and much preferred to perform Elvis Presley impersonations or lip sync ‘Mighty Mouse’ records. Kaufman would often perform as his foul-mouthed alter ego Tony Clifton. A rude, overweight, chain smoking lounge singer.
Kaufman is also controversially known for offering cash prizes to any woman who could defeat him in a wrestling match.
Despite his unusualness, Kaufman expressed gratitude to those who attended his performances. In 1979 at Carnegie Hall, New York he famously invited guests to join him for milk and cookies. He arranged 24 buses for those who wished to attend.
Kaufman passed away in 1984, at the tender age of 35 from a rare form of lung cancer.
There was speculation that his death was nothing more than an elaborate hoax.
Andy Kaufman came to turn reality on its head…he blew my mind’ said Carrey, in Jim & Andy.
In 1999 Carrey portrayed Kaufman in the box office success Man on the Moon. Jim & Andy compiles previously unseen behind the scenes footage from the Man on the Moon set with Carrey responding to it in the present day.
Throughout the film Carrey refers to himself playing Kaufman, in the first person. Implying that he did not simply play Kaufman. He became Kaufman.
Carrey doesn’t act, he becomes possessed by the person he’s required to play.
“Andy felt it was necessary to stay in the character” explained Carrey, in Jim & Andy.
Suffice to say this method both intrigued and annoyed many of his co-stars and co-workers at the time.
To quote REM, Jim Carrey takes us to the great beyond where the lines between actor and artist are blurred.
Carrey was so convincing in his portrayal that he even comforted immediate members of Kaufman’s family, including his parents and daughter. Carrey gave them the gift of reconnecting with their deceased son and father, if only briefly. Carrey describes meeting Kaufman’s family as an incredibly emotional experience and discusses this encounter with a loving nostalgia.
Jim & Andy is a good insight into Carrey’s method and mental health issues. Carrey has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Depression. He is not currently medicated and avoids stimulants- but has previously taken Prozac as a form of treatment. Whilst Carrey’s methodology may seem excessive to some, it worked undeniably in his favour, both on an emotional level and in terms of his acting career. Carrey earned his second Golden Globe for his work in Man on the Moon.
Carrey shows a side of himself that has remained largely hidden behind the persona of Jim Carrey the larger than life mask that has paraded around our screens for well over 20 years.
After all this time it turns out that he is only human. The inspiration Carrey draws from Kaufman allowed him to come into his own.
As Kaufman had Tony Clifton to throw a spanner into the Hollywood machine Carrey had, well, Carrey. ‘You are what you create.’ said George Shapiro in Man on the Moon. This quote can sum up both Kaufman and Carrey.
Fans will be shocked by how humble and painfully honest Carrey is about himself. The way he has been confronting the media lately has left many confused, notably at the Bazaar Icons Party, but if you really watch carefully he’s not hiding behind ‘Jim Carrey: The mask’ (he’s not goofing on Elvis).
Carrey’s monologue is authentic, raw and honest. An arguably rare attribute in Hollywood.
Carrey has let go of the ego driven persona and found peace within by absolving himself of ‘Wants‘ & has found the beauty in ‘What is’.
I found Jim and Andy to be quite moving. I discovered Andy Kaufman staring out at me from a beat up Rolling Stone magazine when I was about 14 and it was captioned something like “Possibly the funniest man who ever lived.”
I was intrigued.
I was 15 when I got a hold of Man on the Moon and I was in love. To this day I’m inspired by both Carrey and Kaufman. They have a motto that basically says “Forget all logic” and enjoy the ride.
Jim and Andy makes for truly insightful viewing. It is clear that Carrey has a multi-faceted identity. This film gives him the opportunity to peel back some of his layers. Exposing himself, for better or worse.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond was directed by Chris Smith and produced by Spike Jonze.
It was released on Netflix on November 17th in Australia and is currently available to view on the streaming service.