Directed by Milos Forman
Running Time: 1:58
Rated R for language and brief sexuality/nudity.

I came into Man on the Moon knowing all I knew about Andy Kaufman from watching those specials on Comedy Central. I left the movie knowing very little more. While the movie was entertaining, and Jim Carrey did a dead on Andy Kaufman, overall I found the movie to be lacking the answer to a very important question: Just who was Andy Kaufman?

Anyone who watched Comedy Central has seen numerous specials on Andy Kaufman. From his odd stand up routines, to his stint on the highly acclaimed TV show Taxi, to his strange obsession with wrestling women, Andy Kaufman was a mystery to just about everyone. Was he a comic genius or just a nutcase? There is no denying that his strange brand of comedy has influenced many performers today, including the man playing him in this film, Jim Carrey. So when a movie was planned based on Kaufman's life, I was looking forward to finding out more about the man. What I saw instead was a rehashing of the public moments of his life, that I had seen before. Even a lot of those public moments were glossed over without a lot of thought and effort put into it. His entire five years on Taxi was done in a few minutes, and then not brought up again until the show was cancelled. His wrestling fixation, including his feud with Jerry "The King" Lawler was over and done with in a matter of moments. I will admit though, I was happy to finally find out the truth about their feud. For years, Lawler refused to say whether their relationship was real or fixed, and finally, the movie answered the question whether they really hated each other, or it was just another one of Andy's comedic moments. What this movie played out to me as, was the Cliff Notes version of Andy Kaufman's life. He began as a standup, moved into TV, had a few TV specials, wrestled some women, somewhere in there meets this woman named Lynne (Courtney Love), then found out he had cancer and died. In between we saw some extremely funny moments from his public life, including his infamous Carnegie Hall appearance, but what we didn't really see was his personal life. We got to meet his best friend, Bob Zmuda, and his manager George Shapiro, but we didn't really get to see a lot of personal interaction between them. We meet his girl Lynne who he falls in love with, but we never got to see why? All we see is that he wrestles her, then they fall in love, but for no apparent reason. We see the wrestling, the Mighty Mouse - SNL skit, the reading of the Great Gatsby, all legendary stories and performances. But not a lot else.

Maybe I was hoping for too much, that's happened to me a lot. But I would have liked to have seen more about the life of Andy Kaufman we don't already know. Things that went on behind the public performances. Things that we didn't already know. Considering his best friends and I assume most of his family is still alive, I think it would have been easy to find out more about the private life of Kaufman, instead of rehashing the same tales we can see for free any Saturday afternoon on TV. Yes, a lot of the moments that were shown in the film were hilarious. And yes the movie was entertaining. But it wasn't as deep and personal as I had hoped it would be.

Will Jim Carrey get the Oscar nomination he deserved for The Truman Show? I think he should, but I don't think he'll win. He did an amazing version of Andy Kaufman. But it seemed to me more that Jim Carrey was doing an Andy Kaufman impression, rather than becoming the man himself. Like my friend, the Box Office Guru said, when you saw Denzel Washington in Malcolm X you saw Malcolm X. It wasn't Denzel up there anymore, he became Malcolm. Jim Carrey, while delivering a great performance, was still Jim Carrey doing Andy Kaufman, rather than Jim Carrey becoming Andy Kaufman. And I don't really think it was his fault. It's hard to become a person so many people already know and love. Anytime you try and play an historical figure, it's difficult for the audience not to see the actor as playing a role (I think of Anthony Hopkins playing Richard Nixon). I see Andy Kaufman's facial expressions, his movements. I hear his voice and see his mannerisms, but I see Jim Carrey doing them.

So overall, Man on the Moon was an entertaining film, but not very deep. I thought the best part of the film was near the end, when Kaufman goes to the Philippines to try and get a mystical treatment for his cancer. And when he gets there, and is lying on the table, he sees that this "mystical" treatment is all a hoax, and for the first time in his life, the joke is on Andy. And as he realizes this, while lying near death, he starts to laugh and I think finally realizes what his audience and his fans thought of him. A man who played with their emotions and tried to get them to believe things that weren't true, who finally had the tables turned on him in the end. But that was the only part of the movie that I felt really showed who Andy Kaufman was. So while the movie was fun, it didn't show me anything new about the man, and I was really hoping to find out the answer to the ultimate question: Just who was Andy Kaufman?

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Andy Kaufman Videos


Andy Kaufman - Tank You Vedy Much

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Andy Kaufman Books


Andy Kaufman Revealed!:
Best Friend Tells All


Lost in the Funhouse :
The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman


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