To be completely honest with you, it's rare I fire up my Netflix account these days because of both lack of time and lack of interest in most movies the service offers, especially stuff I've never seen before. But for the first time almost all week, I had some free time on Sunday night and I spent it watching the Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond documentary on Netflix thanks to a strong recommendation from wrestling podcaster Jason Solomon.
Let the record show I've actually never seen Man on the Moon, and perhaps it would've helped if I did to get a better understanding of the movie. That said, I've seen several clips from it and have heard about what went on behind the scenes.... but no one was able to see for themselves what went on behind the scenes until this movie was released. And let me tell you, it needs to be seen to be believed. As said in the documentary itself, the real movie was happening while Man on the Moon was being filmed.
For those unfamiliar with Man on the Moon, it basically follows the life and death of iconic comedian Andy Kaufman, who is played by Jim Carrey. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond details the making of the movie and specifically how Carrey took to the role of Kaufman and his alter-ego Tony Clifton. But the transformation is unlike anything you've ever seen before.
It's well-documented that Carrey is a brilliant actor, which is obvious based off his work from throughout the 1990s (The Mask, Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, etc). One of the main reasons why those movies were so successful was because Carrey essentially became another person to play those parts, and Man on the Moon was no different, but to a much larger extent. After going through make-up and whatnot, he looked a lot like Andy and Clifton, but his mannerisms were even more spot-on, so much so that it was almost scary.
For example, while working with WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler (who Kaufman had a historic relationship with for a long time), Carrey was completely in character and did things that Kaufman would have done while he was in character as well. Needless to say, Kaufman and Lawler were friends off screen, and although the director tried to tell Carrey that, he refused to believe it and instead made filming that movie a living hell for Lawler by antagonizing him. In fact, he pushed him so far that Lawler hurt him on set, an incident that was covered by a ton of news outlets at the time.
Carrey did not see himself as being Jim Carrey on set. He was either Andy Kaufman or Tony Clifton, no one else. It took him a long time to get out of the minds of those characters when the movie was finished filming, and he declined shooting a music video while in character afterward because he didn't want to return to that place in his head. Again, it's an incredible transformation that only an elite few artists/actors can master, and Carrey is one of them.
Another cool thing about this documentary is that isn't only about the making of Man on the Moon; it also covers quite a bit of Carrey's life and upbringing. There were a lot of things I didn't know about him before, such as how his dad was also very funny and that he dealt with depression for a long time in his life. Seeing other projects he's worked on as well around that time and getting to know what went into that extreme mindset helps you connect with him on an all-new emotional level.
I haven't seen Carey in much in recent years whatsoever, and the only mention I had seen of him before this was a brief appearance he made at some "meaningless red carpet" event as he called it in a bizarre albeit eye-opening interview. He has this real interesting outlook on life that he touches upon briefly at the end of this documentary. That alone is fascinating to hear about and how he struggled to find his true self.
Carrey openly admits that the reason none of this surreal footage was never previously released for over 20 years was because Universal Studios thought he would come across like an "asshole" and no one would ever pay to see him again. I don't know if the second part would have been necessarily true, but the first part absolutely is. He definitely looks like an asshole while on set portraying Kaufman and Clifton, but it didn't make me dislike Carrey. Rather, it made me appreciate him and his ability to create compelling characters that much more.
I had no idea I would be watching Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond until I heard The Solomonster offer his two cents on it on his podcast on Sunday night, and an hour and a half later, I can wholeheartedly agree with what he had to say about this being a great piece of work that is well worth watching. The time flies by, and regardless of whether you've seen Man on the Moon or not (though it would help), you'll be glad you checked it out.
Should you see this movie? Yes.