Film Scouts Reviews

"Man on the Moon"

by Thom Bennett

Starring: Jim Carrey , Danny DeVito , Courtney Love , Paul Giamatti and Tony Clifton
Directed by Milos Forman .
Produced by Danny DeVito , Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher .
Written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski .
Distributor: Universal Pictures


The wait is over. The much ballyhooed Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon", starring Jim Carrey as the man he was born to play. So why all the fuss? Sure, Kaufman was, to say the least, a fascinating individual. Hardly appreciated in his day, Kaufman has, since his death, become a cult figure of sorts and the subject of not one, but two R.E.M. songs. Kaufman's seemingly nihilistic approach to entertainment (he hated being referred to as a comic) caused him to be loved by some and hated by many more and he wouldn't want it any other way.

Director Milos Forman, the man behind such classic films as "Amadeus" and "Ragtime", directs what amounts to little more than a best of Andy Kaufman special (minus Andy Kaufman.) If you didn't like Kaufman to begin with, you will not like the film and if you are a fan of his work, you probably already know everything covered in the film. The result being a choppy, rather mediocre film carried solely on the merits of amazing performances by Carrey and Paul Giamatti (as Kaufman's friend and writer Bob Zmuda).

Forman's seeming fascination with American pop culture has now resulted in two sub-par efforts for the great director (the previous being "The People Versus Larry Flynt"). While Kaufman's life is a rather bizarre choice for a feature film, great films have been made about lesser figures (see Alex Cox's "Sid and Nancy"). One would serve themselves well to check out the original Kaufman material, which is now becoming more readily available due to the hype surrounding the film. The film, however, stands as a showcase for great performances, and not really as any great insight into Kaufman's life or career.

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