Review: Jim and Andy the Great Beyond
Netflix Wows with Jim Carrey Documentary
Man on the Moon was one of my favorite movies of 1999. I had no idea what went into making the movie at the time I saw it in 1999. Had I been more aware of the tabloid crazy story that was going on behind the scenes I likely would have loved the movie even more. Jim Carrey has now detailed the making of Man on the Moon in a new Netflix documentary that debuts November 17th and it is a remarkable and fascinating insight into the mind of an artist.
On the surface, Man on the Moon was a straight-forward biopic of the always not so straight forward comedian Andy Kaufman. Directed by the legendary Milos Forman, Man on the Moon had the air of an Awards friendly true life story of a man who had fascinated millions of people before and after his life came to an end. Even with it being the first of Jim Carrey’s attempts to become taken seriously, there was a prestige to the movie that was innate.
Then stories began to emerge about Jim Carrey’s behavior. In 1998 the film became fodder for the tabloids as Carrey’s shenanigans seemed to be overwhelming the film. In particular, Carrey had a very public run-in with co-star and real life Kaufman antagonist, professional wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler. Carrey was said to have gone off the deep end, requiring everyone to call him Andy or Andy’s bizarre, obnoxious character Tony Clifton. Rumors were spreading that Carrey’s behavior was sinking the film.
Now, with the release of the Netflix documentary Jim and Andy The Great Beyond, we have a notion of what things were like behind the scenes of Man on the Moon. Now we know that all the tabloid nuttiness that was reported nearly 20 years ago was pretty much true and helped to make Man on the Moon the remarkably authentic and fascinating film it became. Using Carrey’s own behind the scenes footage, shot by Andy Kaufman’s real life girlfriend Lynn Margulies, we get the whole story and we know that sometimes madness is creativity at its most pure.
That however, is only part of Jim and Andy The Great Beyond. The other part is just as strange and fascinating as Jim Carrey essentially narrates the picture via a straight to camera interview filmed earlier this year. Carrey still talks about himself in the form of sometimes having been Andy and sometimes having been Jim and what Jim thought of Andy’s on set actions and, even stranger, what Andy thought of Jim Carrey.
Among the strange and beautiful highlights of the documentary are the tearful interactions between Carrey as Andy, and believing he was really Andy, as he interacted with Andy’s family, his brother and father. Most surreal is an encounter that wasn’t captured on camera but that Carrey relates about having spoken with the daughter of Andy Kaufman. The two spent an hour together and Carrey’s tears in the recounting the story are remarkable and one of the great reasons to see this documentary.
Jim and Andy the Great Beyond also confirms a famed Hollywood story about a prank that Carrey and Andy’s long time best friend and compatriot Bob Zmuda pulled on patrons of the Playboy Mansion. Carrey wistfully recounts waiting to attend the party while Zmuda showed up first dressed as Tony Clifton while convincing everyone that he was Jim Carrey playing Tony Clifton in a bizarre meta-prank. The film captures the moment through Lynn Margulies’ camera but watch the documentary for Carrey’s wonderful recollection.
Much has been said about Jim Carrey having become strange and disconnected from reality in recent years with strange appearances on the red carpet and tabloid stories about his private life. The documentary grounds Carrey a little bit, giving him the air of a movie star who has lost touch a little bit but is genuinely following his own muse. We may find Carrey strange but the stories he recounts and the thoughtful manner of his recollections renders him as charismatic and fascinating as ever, certainly not the trainwreck that some have attempted to paint.
Jim and Andy the Great Beyond debuts November 17th on Netflix and it is yet another strange and wonderful triumph for the streaming service. It’s a rare and fascinating insight into the creative soul of a man people don’t really understand and it’s a true Hollywood behind the scenes tale with all of the innate juiciness and schadenfreude of the best of true Hollywood tales.