“I’m retiring…probably. I have enough. I’ve done enough. I am enough.” That is what Jim Carrey said in a recent interview. Do I believe him?? Of course not. Much like boxers, pro wrestlers, & aging rock stars I don’t think actors ever really retire. They can always be coaxed into a “comeback” to enjoy the spotlight “one last time”. Carrey hasn’t been a hot commodity in Hollywood in several years, so I’m not sure anyone would notice if he really did quit altogether, but I feel quite confident in predicting that he’ll continue to make movies here & there. However, his “retirement” proclamation seems like a great excuse to enjoy a Weekend Movie Marathon, much like we’ve already done with Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman, and Ivan Reitman.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
This stupid film is what made Jim Carrey a superstar. I say “stupid” with all due respect, because I have no problem with goofy, mindless, foolish entertainment that exists for no significant reason other than to make people laugh. No life lessons, no deep philosophies, no connection to real life whatsoever…just belly laughs, because laughter really is the best medicine. Since he never won a Super Bowl his supporting role in Ace Ventura may be Dan Marino’s greatest contribution to pop culture, and I’d love to shake the hand of the casting director who listened to Wild Thing & Funky Cold Medina and decided Tone Loc would make a good cop. Ace Ventura has a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is expected. Actually, I’m surprised it’s that high given the austere disposition of most critics. Conversely, it was the 16th highest grossing film of 1994, making more money at the box office than Pulp Fiction & Tombstone amongst others. A sequel was released a year later, but the lightning had escaped the bottle.
Man on the Moon
I’m all about biopics. I vaguely recall comedian Andy Kaufman from his supporting role on Taxi & his infamous altercation with pro wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler on Late Night with David Letterman in 1982, and at first I thought Carrey was an odd choice to portray him in a movie. The strange thing is that Carrey’s casting turned out to be the best decision amongst a host of poor choices made by the filmmakers, including having the actual cast of Taxi appear as themselves in scenes set nearly two decades earlier. Carrey should’ve been nominated for an Oscar, but had to settle for a Golden Globe.
The Truman Show
Reality TV was barely a thing in 1998, making The Truman Show seem quite prescient in hindsight. Carrey stars as a man whose entire life has been a reality show, only he has no idea. It’s a dramedy, which is my wheelhouse, and the performances are terrific. This was the first time that Carrey was robbed of an Academy Award nomination, although Ed Harris was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (he lost). There is a scene near the end of the film when the whole world seems to be glued to their televisions to see what will happen with Truman. When the show suddenly goes dark (if you’ve seen the movie you know why) crowds of people are shown in a brief moment of confusion before simply changing the channel, quickly moving on & resuming their lives. It’s a fleeting yet powerful moment that serves as accurately cynical commentary on our society.
A Christmas Carol
I’ve written extensively about A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella that has been adapted into a decidedly mixed bag of films in the past century. In 2009 director Robert Zemeckis gifted us with a motion capture digital animated version of the story, with Carrey portraying multiple characters (Ebenezer Scrooge, The Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, & Yet to Come). Motion capture seems to be an oddly polarizing technology…some people love it, a lot of folks hate it. Personally, I’m a fan. I also respect movies that remain faithful to the book they’re based on, and this film is a remarkably authentic translation of Dickens’ tale, especially given the fact that it is animated. Critics & moviegoers had a tepid response, but it has become part of my annual Yuletide tradition.
This is Jim Carrey at his comedic plateau. Sure, he made Me, Myself, & Irene (not terrible by any means) & Bruce Almighty (you probably like it better than I do, although I don’t hate it) afterward, but certainly his roles started to lean toward the dramatic and/or the completely forgettable as a new century dawned. The premise…an attorney who is unable to lie for 24 hours…is inspired. How we get there is reminiscent of the 80’s Tom Hanks classic Big, but I’m willing to overlook the mystical contrivance since it leads to a comic showcase for Carrey’s unique skills, a more polished rendition of his Ace Ventura persona. Critics & audiences both gave Liar Liar two thumbs up, and it was the third highest grossing film of the year (Titanic was released right before Christmas 1997, so it was the box office champ of 1998…but with just a couple of weeks in theaters it was still the 7th highest grossing film of ‘97).