Man On The Moon


Directed by: Milos Forman
Written by:Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Starring: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Courtney Love, George Shapiro, Paul Giamatti
Released: February 17, 2000
Grade: A

Andy Kaufman died of lung cancer in 1984 but he lived one hell of a life.  As a kid he dreamed of being the most famous comedian in the world and he gave his vision a pretty good ride.  Discovered by producer George Shapiro, Andy secured a role on the 6-year run of TV’s Taxi - the same show that launched the careers of Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, Marilu Henner, Carol Kane and Christopher Lloyd.

Andy’s goal in life was to be different.  I guess it’s that little bit of him in all of us that makes this movie so appealing.  Kaufman took his comedy to a new level by setting up elaborate comedy situations that left audiences baffled - was he joking or not?  One early story had him disguised as a loudmouthed lounge singer named Tony Clifton.  Despite Kaufman being a relatively famous celebrity - audiences never knew that Clifton was actually Kaufman - it was his gift.

Looking at all this, it’s hard to see what point it serves to make a movie about the life of Andy Kaufman and frankly it’s not the kind of movie that’ll change your life.  It’s just amazing to see behind the scenes and get a close look at all the tricks and jokes he managed to pull - it’s like seeing a magician reveal his tricks.

I love director Milos Forman (Amadeus, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The People Vs. Larry Flynt) and my admiration for him has only increased upon seeing Man On The Moon.  It’s the most difficult movie to pull off that I’ve seen in a long time.  It would be so easy to lose the audience but Foreman keeps you intrigued.  Take the opening of the movie for example which is something I’ve not seen before but couldn’t be more appropriate.  Milos is the man!

I cannot continue further without commenting on the recent realisation of Jim Carrey.  How far he has come since Ace Ventura launched his career on the big screen.  Every role he takes on now just illustrates further the broad range that is Jim Carrey.  After seeing The Truman Show I commented how Carrey was the only actor who could have played the role of Truman Burbank.  After seeing Man On The Moon, that statement can only be reiterated.  Not only does he play Kaufman like a dream, he also shares his birthday (January 17) - was it destiny or what?  It is a burning tragedy that he was overlooked for an Oscar nomination for both roles because he did deserve it.

Milos Forman always finds illustrious casts for his movies.  Casting Courtney Love is a gamble he’s taken before and it works again here.  Danny DeVito is also wonderful especially since he knew and worked with real Kaufman on Taxi and the real George Shaprio even makes an appearance as the club owner who fires Kaufman in the film’s opening.

Many still believe that Kaufman’s death was staged and that he’s still alive today looking back and loving his greatest joke of all.  Andy Kaufman - misunderstood, complicated, genius.