“JIM & ANDY: THE GREAT BEYOND” is a captivating documentary now streaming on Netflix. It centers around the 1999 biopic “Man on the Moon” where Jim Carrey played the quirky comedian Andy Kaufman. More specifically, this narrative explores the depths Carrey took to portray Kaufman, and the turmoil it caused on-set. As well as the emotional toll it took on Carrey personally who quite possibly was never the same after his portrayal.
Kaufman’s run in the spot-light was before my era but I do remember some of his antics, especially revolving around his feud with pro wrestler Jerry Lawler. I was interested to learn more about him, but what this documentary provided was an intriguing look inside the mind of Jim Carrey. As each minute passes this piece peels back layers to his unique personality and it was extremely compelling. “Man on the Moon” was the first biopic for Carrey and he admitted he didn’t exactly know how he was going to pull it off.
It was clear that Carrey felt very similar to Kaufman, and that he related to, and connected with him on a deeply emotional level. With claims of Kaufman’s spirit talking to him one afternoon at the beach, Carrey would go on to pour himself into the role. So deeply in fact that it was hard to tell if Carrey was trying to become Kaufman for the role, or escaping the torment he felt being the ‘Jim Carrey’ the world knew and loved from his hit comedies. Something this documentary would go on to show was not exactly who Carrey was, but more so, the Carrey he thought people would like more.
Carrey provides insightful commentary with the vast amount of time-period footage that was recorded behind-the-scenes during the filming of “Man on the Moon.” It was intriguing to watch Carrey arrive onset in character. He was sometimes drunk, always odd and offbeat, and watching the reactions of the filmmakers and the other cast members was fascinating. The efforts taken in recording all the footage during his portrayal of Kaufman was interesting, almost like it would be used later as a mild explanation for his actions. It was also bizarre to see Carrey onset, in character as Kaufman, talking to Kaufman’s parents. Watching their interactions and seeing the parents of Kaufman looking at someone playing their deceased son (in character) was awkward but without a doubt magnetizing.
This piece also explores the rise of Carrey and how he grew up in the ranks of comedy from his childhood by playing different personas. How this was an escape for him from an early age and that when he reached a point where there was a potential for stardom that he had to decide what persona people would connect with. He admits that when his portrayal of Kaufman was completed that he was lost, and to an extent didn’t know how to get back into that traditional Jim Carrey mold the world knew. It was riveting to see this side of Carrey that was unknown to me and how this role specifically was a sort of subconscious turning point for him.
This documentary is extremely well edited and paced, and the blending of Carrey’s interview style narration was woven perfectly with the archival-footage. This one grabbed my attention from the first minute and took me on a highly engaging journey of Jim Carrey, this role, and his emotional connection with the late comedian. As well as exploring the darker sentiment to his personality and I definitely recommend it.