Andy Kaufman in the wrestling match

22 December, 2017 (00:07) | Reviews

I just finished watching Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond.  I think a lot of people won’t care to watch it.  I thought it was wonderful.  I just started the 4th sentence of this review beginning with “I”, and I think that’s fitting in the context of this movie.

What is an artist?  Someone who creates art.  What then, is art?  Existentially, this movie is about artists that become art.

When Man on the Moon came out, I was already anticipating it.  I know who I saw it with, who my friends were at the time, reading articles about it, and I can remember specific conversations about it–namely ones where my fanboy side was revealed, and people thought I was ‘way too into this movie.’

You see, I knew who Andy Kaufmann was from a young age.  Not fully, but I was exposed to his Mighty Mouse lipsync from Saturday Night Live reruns.  I knew Latka from watching taxi late night reruns at my grandma’s.  This dude was weird, and that intrigued me.  I was also fully aware of the diverse and depth talent of Jim Carrey through In Living Color, long before Ace Ventura and all that.  When I heard about the movie, I was interested.  When I saw Jim in character, even just the poster, I was awestruck.  Before I saw a single clip, I knew this movie was going to be like no other, and that there were going to be people that didn’t get it.  The latter only intensified my wonder.

I didn’t know the content they’d use to make this documentary existed until late 2016.  Apparently, not many people knew it for quite some time.  Typically, I’d look at this type of move as a cash grab; Hollywood regurgitating content because someone is going to watch it.  After watching Jim Carrey’s public life spiral over the past decade or more, it might be easy still to make that connection, but I think this is one of the most authentic pieces, from a man who is genuinely hollow…and that’s meant as a compliment.  He is not full of anything; and vulnerable enough to everything that it can simply pass through him as if he doesn’t exist.  That’s why I’m fascinated by artists.  That’s why I’m terrified of art.  I cannot do it.

The movie touches on this specifically throughout.  It’s beyond the deep method actors who get stuck in their roles.  Jim was Andy reincarnated – and that was intentional.  To have someone so sincerely dedicate their waking life to recreating someone else is a very selfless act.  You literally have to die to yourself.  I cannot fathom the denial of reality that has to take place to have a private conversation with Andy’s daughter, whom he had never met, and have it be a healing experience.  Can you imagine the therapeutic value in that authenticity?!  That is, if what we are told can be believed to be true…and that was the essence of Andy’s comedy.  It’s perfect.

This documentary was very personal for me, because it shows the vulnerability needed to achieve something greater than the facades we put on day in and day out.  I think we get confused and think that if we just shudder up, hunker down, and stare life in the face, we’ll be able to rise above it all and come out on top.  Jim’s own words describe the breakdown of these social constructs and even saying that’s what Andy’s humor thrived on.  Denying yourself can either get you to be a fired accountant at age 51, forcing your family to be homeless, or denying yourself can be letting go of the anchor of self and seeing where the sails carry you.  Or, Carrey you.  The most heart wrenching thing in the movie was Jim saying that failure is hard, but when you compromise and still fail, that’s even worse.  You can be dealt a fatal blow either way.

There’s lots of Scripture that ties in well here, like Matthew 16:25, or John 15:13, or even Luke 14:26.  It’s very much all or nothing…but isn’t it all counted as loss regardless?  Deep questions, from a deep movie.


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