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12/1/17

JIM & ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND - REVIEW


Released on Netflix this month, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond is a documentary revealing actor Jim Carrey's unusual behaviour on the set of Man On The Moon as he appeared to embody the spirit of ground-breaking comedian Andy Kaufman both on and off camera.

A bushy-beard Jim Carrey is interviewed on the subject and this is intercut with actual footage gathered back in 1999 during Man On The Moon's production. We meet a Carrey completely committed to "be" Andy Kaufman (or the typically aloof Tony Clifton) from start to finish confusing just about everyone from cast-members to director Milos Forman. With the help of Kaufman's partner in crime Bob Zmuda, Carrey keeps this method acting train going no matter what, staging stunts at the Playboy Mansion, with the crew and reporters in the process. One staged incident, for example, sees him getting seemingly gravely injured while filming a wrestling scene in the film and getting carried out on a stretcher. The actor's antics are fascinating but, of course, like with Andy Kaufman himself, this kind of real world pranking can lead to comedy gold but also unexpected reactions from those not willing to play along like wrestler Jerry Lawler who never warms up to Jim Carrey's full-on impression but, then again, even that could have been staged.

It's this fine line between reality and fiction and how it can be blurred very easily that Andy Kaufman explored back in the day so for Carrey to accept this challenge and not hold back is artistically admirable though he himself admits to fearing he'd just be seen as "an asshole" if he was to release that long-dormant footage. It's interesting to see how various individuals react to this new Kaufman: the likes of Danny DeVito and Courtney Love are pretty much sold on the idea while Milos Forman has reservations throughout and there are some sweet, if rather bizarre moments with Andy Kaufman's actual family and friends. Whether you think Jim Carrey went too far or not, it's hard to deny the boldness of such an experiment and applaud the actor's dedication to such a performance. The film isn't just about Carrey's take on Andy Kaufman, however, it's also about the actor's career as a whole and how his life as a comedian evolved through his films with some existential question marks thrown in from The Riddler himself.

Fans of Andy Kaufman, Jim Carrey or comedy in general should find a gem in Jim & Andy: an excellent character study worthy of both comedians. It's certainly worth visiting, even if only for the few deliciously awkward moments prompted by this behind-the-scenes performance.

Very good.

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