Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
For a couple of years in the late 90’s, actor Jim Carrey seemed to be moving beyond the screen persona he’d honed in the Ace Ventura movies and The Mask and was really challenging himself (and his audience) as an actor. This period led to some great movies by Carrey including The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the Andy Kaufman bio-picture Man on the Moon.
Carrey’s performance as Kaufman in Man on the Moon generated critical buzz and even had some speculating that he could get an Oscar nod for the year. Carrey never got that Oscar nod (though he did joke about it on the Oscar broadcast that year) and, in many ways, those three films stand as some of the best work Carrey has done.
So, it’s interesting that twenty years after Man on the Moon hit theaters that a new documentary would reveal that maybe Carrey wasn’t so much acting in the film as channeling the spirit of Andy Kaufman. Early in the documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, Carrey tells us that he spirit of Andy Kaufman came up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and told him that he’d be taking over for the duration of filming.
Behind-the-scenes footage seems to support this with Carrey not breaking character as Kaufman or his alter-ego, Tony Clifton. That footage, originally banned by Universal because it made Carrey look like an asshole, forms much of the documentary along with a new interview from Carrey, looking at not only his time on the picture but also his career as a whole.
In many ways, Jim & Andy feels like a lost extra from the DVD release of Man on the Moon. The footage will also make you want to immediately seek out the original Man on the Moon and visit it again.
But the more the movie goes along, the more I couldn’t help but wonder if Carrey was pulling a Kauffman-like prank on that has gone on for these twenty years. The footage seems to indicate this could be the case, but it’s never entirely clear one way or the other. (Which, on some level, would make Andy Kauffman proud, I suppose).
Focusing on only on Carrey, the film never allows us to see reactions or reflections from the rest of the cast and crew, except in the footage taken during production. Part of me can’t help but wonder what certain participants made of Carrey’s dedication to the role and the craft and how they feel about it today. (It’d be interesting to see what Jerry Lawler thought of things, for example).
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t come up with any answers but instead leaves it to you to decide.