The preparation Jim Carrey undertook to play Andy Kaufman has often bee cited as a surreal experience that went oddly under reported and barely discussed. In 1998, Jim Carrey played iconic stand up comedian and performer Andy Kaufman for a biopic and embodied the man in every form, refusing to break character even between takes. For years the studio behind “Man on the Moon” hid the footage recorded of Jim Carrey on set of the Andy Kaufman film to avoid bad press for the actor. Nowadays with the man known as Jim Carrey shunning Hollywood, “Jim & Andy” is a glimpse at how he crossed that road, and how it began with Andy Kaufman.
“Jim & Andy” is a stellar documentary and chronicle in to the mind of Carrey and how he perceives himself. As well, it’s an ironic look at how Carrey’s career seemed to align alongside Kaufman’s. Carrey like Kaufman started as man hoping to break conventions, and soon found it impossible to destroy the persona that kept him bound to high expectations he couldn’t fulfill. There’s even footage of Kaufman and Carrey’s tryouts for “Saturday Night Live,” both of which are incredibly similar. Director Chris Smith edits together over a hundred hours of footage chronicling Carrey’s aggressive tryouts to play Kaufman, and how he took on the skin of the man. Much of the documentary is surreal bordering on the absolutely spooky, as Carrey often gets lost in Kaufman. There are a lot of asides with former colleagues of Kaufman, including good friend Danny Devito.
In one scene Devito sits watching Carrey as Kaufman between takes, and marvels in slight horror at how it felt as if Andy was right there in the flesh. Carrey is a man who fell deep in to the mindset and atmosphere of Kaufman and never quite pulled himself out of the funk, spending his latter years stepping back from his career. Carrey in interviews is just as spacey and unpredictable as he’s always been. Except he discusses his approach toward filming as Andy as if for a short time he’d been taken over by the spirit of the late comedian. There is so much compelling footage to view, that Smith displays for the viewers. This includes Carrey as Kaufman bonding with the comedian’s family, deliberately antagonizing wrestler Jerry Lawler on set arousing violent confrontations, and director Milos Forman’s exhaustion in trying to rein the actor in time and time again.
Whether he or didn’t go too far (as Kaufman) remains insignificant to Carrey, as he’s generally indifferent toward the memories. Carrey spends a lot of time during the film discussing how he hated Hollywood convention and artifice, and viewed taking on Kaufman’s persona as a spiritual journey of self realization rather than a role. Like Kaufman, Carrey had a lot of emotional issues, and used his tragic background to help inspire a lot of popular characters. Smith even implements footage from Carrey’s most popular comedies as a metaphor for his rise to fame and self exile. It’s not just a rare behind the scenes glimpse at an acclaimed biopic, but a weird, spooky, and enlightening glimpse in to two iconic comedians and how their creative energies resulted in one truly stunning experience for all involved.