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Josh Reviews Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond

January 17th, 2018
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Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton is a new documentary by Chris Smith that documents Jim Carrey’s process of remaining entirely in-character as Andy Kaufman (as well as Kaufman’s abusive alter-ego, Tony Clifton) during the entirety of the making of Milos Forman’s 1999 bio of Andy Kaufman, Man on the Moon.

I have always been fascinated by Andy Kaufman, and I quite like Mr. Forman’s film Man on the Moon.  Jim Carrey’s performance as Mr. Kaufman in the film is spectacular.  He is brilliantly able to inhabit the character, perfectly recreating many famous on-screen moments from Mr. Kaufman’s life (his appearances on Saturday Night Live, Taxi, and more).  It’s an amazing act of recreation, as Mr. Carrey is able to modulate his voice and his physicality in order to nearly-perfectly recreate Mr. Kaufman.  The film is made by Mr. Carrey’s performance.

Throughout the film’s production, Mr. Carrey apparently hired a team to film behind-the-scenes footage, in an effort to produce a promotional material for the film that would be more interesting than the boring EPKs (Electronic Press Kits) that usually accompany a film’s release.  But the footage has remained unseen, until now.  Mr. Smith’s documentary Jim & Andy presents an extraordinary amount of this incredible footage, intercut with an in-depth interview with Jim Carrey conducted last year.  Ninety-five percent of the film is from those two sources: the twenty-year-old behind-the-scenes footage and this present-day interview with Mr. Carrey.  (We also get a generous amount of clips from Man on the Moon itself, as well as some great archival footage of both Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Carrey from throughout their careers.)

This behind-the-scenes footage is incredible.  I had heard rumors that Mr. Carrey had refused to step out of character during the months of making Man on the Moon, and this footage supports that.  It is… wow.  It is pretty jaw-dropping.  At one point in the film, Mr. Carrey recollects that he was told that Universal would not at the time allow any of the behind-the-scenes footage to be released because they didn’t want people to think that Mr. Carrey was an asshole.  I can see what they were worried about.

I cannot imagine how tough this must have been for the men and women working with Mr. Carey on the making of Man on the Moon.  Mr. Carey as Andy Kaufman was clearly difficult to deal with, as this footage makes clear, but Mr. Kaufman as Tony Clifton was absolutely horrible and abusive to everyone around him.  There are a lot of moments in which we see poor Milos Forman struggling to keep the peace and keep his film … [continued]