Man on the Moon - C
Viewed December 02, 1999 at the Universal Screening Room

I am an Andy Kaufman virgin. While I've seen (and enjoyed) his Mighty Mouse bit on Saturday Night Live reruns, I consider myself largely unfamiliar with his body of work, as it were. (I don't think I've ever even seen an episode of Taxi.) And after Man on the Moon I still don't feel that familiar with him. Moon alternates between re-creations of Kaufman's best known antics and a deadly dull biopic. The performance bits are fun and at least provide solid evidence that Andy Kaufman was either a genius or a madman, and Jim Carrey is clearly having a ball mimicking one of his idols. The biopic elements on the other hand are astonishingly awful, opting for mild hagiography instead of trying to delve into Kaufman's psyche. It hints at some interesting complexities such as Kaufman's belief in Transcendental Meditation and then fails to provide any insight, and takes Kaufman's relationships with his agent, his girlfriend, and his partner-in-crime Bob Zmuda for granted. The schizophrenic split of the film between biopic and recreated performance flick also reveals that Carrey, as great a performer as he is, is not a gifted actor; his work as Kaufman strikes the same note of naive innocence as his work in The Truman Show. But the biggest disappointment to me may be an uninspired soundtrack from R.E.M. The new single "The Great Beyond" is lovely, but the rest could have been done by any number of Hollywood hacks.