Let’s wind the clocks back to 2009; I’m 12. About one or two months into my first year at secondary school, and high on my obsession with Jim Carrey that started just the year before. Being able to use school computers at break and lunch meant just reading about Carrey all the time, finding out about all his films. See, at the time, I knew him as nothing other than a comedian. He was the greatest comic, the way he used his body and voice was unparalleled by anything I had seen, and I would watch him in anything. I had read about Man on the Moon, and soon found it in a Blockbuster (R.I.P). I snatched it up and took it home for another Jim Carrey riot. What I got? A life changing experience.
I’m serious, Jim Carrey’s performance in Man on the Moon was the thing that made me love cinema; I would not be writing right now were it not for this. It turned me on to a whole world of beauty that I didn’t appreciate, and for that reason, Jim Carrey is still my favourite actor of all time (Ryan Gosling is a close second. Like, real close. Like, basically just breathing into Jim’s ear). So to find out that this film was being released was momentous. It was like Netflix was talking directly to me, and saying “Hey buddy, you know the last eight years of your life, and the rest of your life from here on out? Well why don’t you take a peek at the reason behind it all?” Behind the scenes of footage of Carrey’s deep exploration into the character of Andy Kaufman, with a present day interview with him to reflect on it all, it was too good to pass it up. As such, there is a certain level of biased in this review. Anyone will tell you that it’s a great documentary; I might be the only one to say that it’s a wondrous masterpiece.
Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t believe this hadn’t already been made; the footage kept from us for so long is electrifying. Everything Carrey does is unbelievable. What he did back then, was essentially what Jared Leto gets trashed for doing now, and Carrey says it himself that the footage was withheld by the studio to prevent him being called an arsehole. There are so many shots of co-stars, crew members, and guests shaking their heads at the camera like an episode of The Office, begrudgingly accepting his decision to fully embody Andy Kaufman and Tony Clifton at all times, to his absolute full extent. He was frustrating, and infuriating, and unreasonable…And beautiful. Just beautiful. His pure talent as an actor shines through so well. I’ve complained about method acting before; I’ve not always cared for it and sometimes judge actors worse for it. But seeing this has honestly changed my perspective a little. And yeah, that’s obviously because it’s my favourite actor doing it, but I’m entirely blown away by Carrey not just putting on a performance, but becoming two other people entirely. It’s not refusing to wash because you’re a soldier, it’s not getting tattooed and sending dead rats and used condoms to your co-stars. Those are cheap tricks used to create the illusion of a character, but Carrey wasn’t an illusion. He was as real as they come. The footage is beyond extraordinary. The dedication, and the co-operation from those around him, is mesmerising.
What’s even more beautiful is the interview that takes place; the majority of documentaries get the thoughts and feelings of many people involved in the film, spectators, researchers, family etc. but this film is Jim Carrey and Jim Carrey only. Beyond just a reflection of what he did for this role, he reflects upon himself too. He’s had a lot of attention recently regarding some of his more out there approaches to life – Personally, I think it’s a little weird, but I think he’s finally found some peace and I’m happy for him to live that way – so there’s been a lot of questions about where he is right now with his mental health and such. He says some really beautiful things in this film, talks about his past in a way that feels completely new, and brings up some more painful memories. He reflects on his career too, with many clips and quotes from his other famous works to draw up a timeline of his success, and how he has a personal connection to all of his characters. It’s just riveting; the man speaks with so much peace and wisdom, things that maybe sound ridiculous until you really give it some thought, and it’s honestly kind of wonderful. Jim Carrey is very important to me, and to hear him speak in a way that’s so honest, so raw, and so engaging, is an indescribably beautiful and satisfying experience.
Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond is a fantastic documentary, showcasing an insane and unapologetic approach to a bizarre character, that turned into one of the greatest performances of all time. On a personal level, I can’t remember the last time I was this unbelievably grateful for a film’s existence.
Jim and Andy is available on Netflix!