Man on the Moon is a film about the life and career of the eccentric avant-garde comedian, Andy Kaufman.
Andy Kaufman was a man who lived completely misunderstood by everyone he’s ever met. That probably includes Bob Zmuda, his long time writing partner and best friend. See, everything has always been on big joke to Andy. He’s the real-life equivelant of Watchmen’s The Comedian except he’s actually funny, isn’t very dark and probably has mental issues. It’s so hard to tell. The man may or may not have been a genius.
Jim Carrey completely embodies him and really is Andy Kaufman. I paused the movie multiple times to see old clips of Kaufman and I couldn’t believe how close it was aside from a few obvious physical quirks. I would call it one of the greatest acting achievements of art-house cinema.
The movie opens with Jim Carrey doing a show at an improv club where he’s discovered by George Shapiro (Danny DeVito) who is unsure about Kaufman himself. Once he’s signed and has the paychecks coming his way, Andy uses the world as his playground. In fact, he is the world’s first mainstream troll. From purposely spouting sexist rhetoric on network television to wrestling women and having long drawn out feuds with wrestling champion Jerry Lawler. He also played the beloved Latka Gravas in the NBC program Taxi.
The film does move a lot around for dramatic purposes, like the fact that he did not meet his girlfriend after wrestling her on Merv and completely exaggerates plenty of his great stupid and idiosyncratic moments. While nothing stood out from a technical standpoint, I felt like it was Milos Forman’s best film. Even before having seen the movie, something inside me knew it’d become a favorite and all the film did was prove me right.
To the Andy Kaufman the world was a joke and the audience was the butt of it. My only issue of the film is the ending, which doesn’t make clear whether Kaufman faked his own death as his persona, Tony Clifton, returns months after cancer caused Kaufman’s untimely death in 1984. His fans are never satisfied, even with his birth certificate roaming around the internet. The movie is nothing but the gasoline near the fire of that already-burning rumor.
Not only does it have great acting, it has magnificent set pieces, portrays exactly who Kaufman was and is in fact a love letter to the comedic genius himself. If I were you, I’d add this to my Netflix queue right away. It’s worth the two hours I put into it and I wouldn’t mind it having been two hours longer than it already was.
Now if only this was added to the Criterion Collection, I’d be a very happy camper. This movie is a near masterpiece.
93 – Film-Social.com