AFI Fest 2017 Review: Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - With a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton

A must-see for fans of either man.
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For those who might not know them on a first-name basis, "Jim & Andy" are Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman, both two unique comedic talents of the 20th Century. The former played the latter in Milos Forman's biopic Man on the Moon. Much of the material in this documentary, which will be going to Netflix, comes from a video crew who recorded hours of behind-the-scenes footage as Carrey's approach to the role was to go so deep into method acting he tried to “be” Andy Kaufman as well as Tony Clifton, a character played by both Kaufman and his writer/partner Bob Zmuda.

A bearded, thoughtful Jim Carrey sits for an interview reflecting on the time, his life, and Kaufman. He clearly reveres Kaufman, watching him on television as a young kid in Canada and his fandom led him to purchase a pair of Kaufman's conga drums. As a fan of Kaufman myself, it was fun to see the archival footage from different TV shows and his time as a wrestler, especially material I hadn't seen before.

While playing the parts, Carrey goes so deep it almost appears he might have had an out-of-body experience and let these characters take over his mind. The off-stage antics are entertaining from the safety of the audience, or if one isn't dealing with them directly, as evidenced by Paul Giamatti, who plays Zmuda, and Danny De Vito, playing manager George Shapiro, seen snickering, but it was aggravating to some of those around him. Forman is understandably frustrated as he barely has any control of the set. It's especially bothersome for Jerry Lawler because Carrey plays Kaufman the public saw as the wrestling heel, hurling insults and other things lying around, but Kaufman and Lawler were friends, so it's hard to understand why Carrey wouldn't play an accurate version of Kaufman in this instance.

In the interviews, Carrey offers insight into his performance and personal matters that bubbled through. This documentary is a bit of a autobiography as it covers Carrey's life with his commentary. He also considers what Kaufman might have dealt with as both were on a hit TV shows, which can be both a blessing and a curse, so he had a similar frame of reference.

Jim & Andy... is a must-see for fans of either man. On the surface, it might not appear to offer much else, but it is compelling to see a glimpse of a man behind the acting mask and how he drew on his life to create his art.

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