Main cast: Jim Carrey (Andy Kaufman), Danny DeVito (George Shapiro), Courtney Love (Lynne Margulies), Paul Giamatti (Bob Zmuda/Tony Clifton), Gerry Becker (Stanley Kaufman), Leslie Lyles (Janice Kaufman), Melanie Vesey (Carol Kaufman), Michael Kelly (Michael Kaufman), Vincent Schiavelli (Maynard Smith), Peter Bonerz (Ed Weinberger), and Michael Villani (Merv Griffin)
Director: Miloš Forman
Who’s Andy Kaufman?
I don’t know. My excuse is that I am not exactly a hoity-toity film guru. So the ultimate test of this movie is to see if, by the end of the movie, whether I can say who Andy Kaufman is.
Sorry, but I still don’t know.
For a biopic of a man who is a chronic prankster that enjoys pushing his audience’s tolerance to the very limit, this movie doesn’t tell me anything. Man on the Moon starts off with Andy’s beginning as a failed club performer (he can’t tell risque jokes to save his hide) to his embarrassing expulsion from Saturday’s Night Live to his death from lung cancer.
Jim Carrey stretches his limited range to the max, and his Andy is enjoyable in a fascinating way. This is a man who sees the world as an endless opportunity to amuse himself and test how much his audience can take. “I must be unpredictable. I must always be one step ahead,” he says to his manager Shapiro, so he fakes death scenes, personal catastrophes, and even has a reviled career wrestling with women while taunting them (and Southerners) with insulting ballyhoos.
So I am really very disappointed not to be allowed into the psyche of Andy Kaufman. This man has a fascinating hidden self, a man that loves meditation, and hence it would be wonderful to see how Kaufman reconcile this part that keep him sane (his words) to his flashy, sometimes obnoxious showbiz persona.
What this movie offers is instead something akin to those This Is Your Life things – safe, enjoyable montages of scenes in Andy’s life. Nothing is explored deeper than the surface. An enjoyable movie, I admit, but still…
Who’s Andy Kaufman?