The true story of legendarily bizarre comedian Andy Kaufman,
whose shocking antics on and off-screen made him a household name.
Man on the Moon (1999)
Directed by Milos Forman
Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
Starring Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Paul Giamatti,
Courtney Love, Vincent Schiavelli, Jerry Lawler, Gerry Becker
If you know anything about Andy Kaufman, then you know that nobody but Jim Carrey ever could've played him in a movie. Kaufman's brilliance (or madness) was unmatched, with dozens of layers of jokes that were only funny to him most of the time. He wanted to be a superstar, but he wanted to do it in his own way. He did whatever the hell he wanted to, as long as it was funny. Personally, I think the man was either mentally ill or an alien sent to Earth to study human life. Regardless, this retelling of his crazy life cut short by tragedy is a brilliant biopic and arguably the greatest performance Jim Carrey has ever given.
Carrey completely disappears as Kaufman and his lounge-singing alter ego Tony Clifton. Everything from his eyes to the way he walks is pure Kaufman. It's an underappreciated, incredible performance that transcends the movie from formulaic biopic to unforgettable story. The supporting cast is great too, but obviously Carrey steals the show. The various antics of Andy Kaufman are too insane to be real, but they are. He and Jerry Lawler worked out a wrestling scam that nearly killed his career. He posed as Tony Clifton and tried to destroy Taxi just to get out of his contract. You honestly couldn't make this guy up.
Man on the Moon is very funny, but it handles Kaufman's eventual diagnosis of terminal cancer with dramatic heft. Sure, there's the tease that he may or may not have faked his own death, but that's for another time. This film is a look into the whirlwind of crazy that Andy Kaufman created everywhere he went, simply because he thought it would be funny and didn't care who he inconvenienced or made uncomfortable. He wouldn't prosper in today's world, but he became a star in his.