The story of Kaufman's quick rise to fame through early appearances on Saturday Night Live and the conceptual stunts that made his club and concert appearances an instant legend in the irony-fueled 1970s and early '80s, Man on the Moon never makes the mistake of artificially delineating Comic Andy from Private Andy. True, we get to see something of his private interest in meditation and some of the flakier extremes of alternative medicine, but even these interludes suggest the presence of an ultimate con behind apparent miracles of transformation.
Screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. Larry Flynt) allege that transformation was Kaufman's purpose--more than a shtick but less than a destiny. As we see him constantly up the ante on the credibility of his performance personae (the obnoxious nightclub comic Tony Clifton; the insulting, misogynistic professional wrestler), Forman makes it harder and harder to detect Kaufman's sleight of hand. But it's there, always there, always the transcendent Andy watching the havoc he creates and the emotions he stirs.
Carrey is magnificent as Kaufman, re-creating uncannily detailed comedy pieces etched in the memory of anyone who remembers the real Andy. But while Carrey's mimicry of Kaufman is flawless and funny, the actor probes much deeper into an enigmatic character who, in life, was often a moving target even for those closest to him. --Tom Keogh
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski are fun screenwriters, (though I am not sure they are still working) having produced script for Larry Flynt and Ed Wood....they are not always concerned with tradition, and find great hools in telling the story. They then seem like the perfect choice for writing the story of Andy Kaufman, the most non traditional of performers...and certainly the first five minutes of the film does not dissapoint...Kaufman(Jim Carrey) stands in a movie screen, tells everybody it is his movie and the weirdness ensues.
Well, then the next two hours never captures this same kind of "what is real?" feeling. I mean, don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this movie, and Carrey does an amazing job of recreating Kaufman onstage...but I thought there were a few problems...one is that no one knew Kaufman that well, and therefore it is almost impossible to create a bio pic for someone you can't actually identify with. Therefore we are saddled with forties bio cliches" I Want to Be The greatest of all times" and the fantastic"I want To Play Carnegie Hall", and the obligatory "guy finds cyst on his neck".
Second of All, Kaufman just comes off like a jerk half the time.
Third of All, when the film ends, we are no further along about Kaufman than When the film started.
But as I think about it, here an hour and a half after seeing the movie, I wonder if the wanting more, the frustration, the unanswered questions is not the ultimate Kaufman prank. And the pranks are the major gist of the film. Much of the film is about an audience not knowing how to take it all...and they are brilliant pranks...just when you think you have it figured out, Kaufman's illusionary reality takes over.
So have we been had? Is this film pretending to be a meaningful bio, and is the ultimate prank? Did we watch
this just to be part of a giant illusion, to be caught up in the routines, to cringe at the innapropriate gags, to wonder why all the members of Taxi are playing themselves twenty years later and DiVito is playing someone else?, and then walk away feeling we have seen a genius or a madman or both...
and feel like we have been involved in some giant Kaufmanesque experience...
All in all, I think this is a worthwhile experience...
or maybe Kaufman is alive, and paid me to write this.
You won't really learn much about Andy Kaufman from this movie - bits and pieces, but from the look of his life, no one really knew a lot about him. You never are told why his dad is so upset Andy is playing in his room by himself. You never get a grasp of what made Andy Kaufman constantly invent characters that people even loved or hated. His "Latka" character was brillant as well as funny. His "Tony" character was the portrait of an obnoxious lounge singer. He appeared to use everybody and everything as a huge prop to complete practical jokes. This may have been gunny to Andy, but lots of times, he was the only one who got the joke.
Jim Carrey is fantastic as Andy Kaufman. Seeing Carrey do the "Mighty Mouse" bit brought me back to the first time I seen the bit - fearing that Kaufman had simply became a victim of stage fright and than laughing as he pantomined the "Mighty Mouse" song.
Andy Kaufman was a complex and troubled man. He seemed determined to elicit extreme reactions from people, good or bad were the same to him. Just provoking the reaction was what he seemed to crave.
I have to admit, I still don't understand Andy Kaufman and I still am not a big fan of his, but the movie was very thought provoking. On one hand, he is seen meditating, trying to become a more spiritual person - on the other hand he is seen being a total jerk to his co-workers for no apparent reason or at least no reason that is elaborated on in the movie. If you want a look at a complex performer, I recommend this movie highly.