Introduction: The Rise of Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey's energetic brand of comedy- using overly exaggerated body movements and flexible gestures and body expressions gave slapstick comedy a new lease of life in Hollywood and the film industry in general. Jim Carrey has that family friendly type of comedy which the whole family can enjoy- both parents and children. Not to say that Jim Carrey's films are meant exclusively for families with children, but adults too can enjoy them. Jim Carrey started out as a stand-up comedian in the 1970s, and in 15 years he made impressions of over 150 people (Sobchack, 279). He got a chance to perform regularly in the Comedy Store starting from 1979.
In the early 1980s, he got signed by the comedy great Rodney Dangerfield, and Carrey then wanted to experiment with new stand-up. He wanted to be himself on stage, and his stand-up comedy featured less of impressions of famous people. In the 1980s he started getting roles in film and TV. In 1983 he starred in the movie-infomercial "Copper Mountain" alongside Allan Thicke.
In 1984 he landed a television role for NBC sitcom "The Duck Factory" which was canceled before the end of its first season. "In Living Color" (1990-1994) was Jim Carrey's first significant television role, where he starred and wrote the jokes for the successful sketch comedy show. 1994 was an exceptionally final year for Jim Carrey and three reasons: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber. These 3 Box Office hits arguably made Jim Carrey the Charlie Chaplin of the 1990s. The star of Jim Carrey was lighting up.
A Detailed Overview of Jim Carrey's Individual Works
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, 1994
In 1994's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Jim Carrey admitted having added elements of his style to the titular character "Ace Ventura." Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a critical consensus review of 47%. Parental guidance is advised for children under the age of 13. The dolphin mascot of Miami Dolphins NFL team is kidnapped, and it falls on Ace, specialized in recovering lost pets, to follow the trail. Soon, actual human players of the Dolphins are abducted too, and the matter becomes too severe to be followed up by a pet detective. The movie had mixed reviews but more negative than positive ones.
It received massive criticism for being overly homophobic. He investigates a former player Ray Finkle, and when he finds out that he is now a woman police detective knows as Lois Einhorn (who has kissed Ace) he vomits. In the movie, it was meant to be funny along with Jim Carrey's animalistic take on the character of Ace- cooing, grunting, flapping hands and so on. However, a more introspective watching of the movie reveals critical flaws. What everybody agrees on is that if not for Jim Carrey playing the role of Ace Ventura the whole film would have been a disaster (Bonilla, 21).
In Ace Ventura, Jim Carrey mainly carries the franchise on his shoulders. He was energetic and goofy- he was like an animal inside a man's body. Audiences flocked to theatres to watch Jim Carrey make animal sounds and jerky gestures, and they were delighted. It could be that Jim Carrey performances like Ace Ventura make people feed their inner child and forget for a pleasant hour or so how it is to be an adult.
The Mask, 1994
"The Mask" was released in 1994, and Jim Carrey brought to life the titular character in half realistic and half animated manner. The movie is like a parody for all super-hero films where the super-hero usually has two well-hidden identities; the normal, virtual harmless human versus the powerful crime-fighting vigilante. In super-hero movies, the costumes are usually practical but in "The Mask" the costume is laughable- a wooden mask!
The theme that resonates with everyone in the film is the fact that sometimes we have all wanted that one chance to transform our lives in ways we cannot imagine (Liao, 262). Jim Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss who is a depressed bank teller whose life is going from bad to worse at every step of the way. Following being thrown out of a nightclub, he contemplates suicide by drowning and at the water's edge he spots something floating on the water. He thinks it is a human being drowning. He jumps into the water to save the drowning person, only to find out that it is a wooden mask.
Masks are usually worn to hide true identities. Batman wears his mask to protect that he is Bruce Wayne. However, Stanley Ipkiss's mask gives the character something to live for. As The Mask, he gets himself singing and dancing karaoke, making guns out of balloon figures and shooting and chasing the bad guys. Jim Carrey plays the role of the hapless and reluctant hero so well; audiences were charmed. It became a favorite movie for family gatherings in the 1990s.
Jim Carrey's cartoonish facial expressions were a huge plus (there is this scene where he spots a woman, and his eyes pop out of their sockets like a cartoon's). The make-up (mostly eerie green and weird colored suits) lends credence to Jim Carrey's performance in the mask. Roger Ebert considers the character of Jim Carrey's The Mask as "a cross between the Joker and Aladdin's genie." In the end, Stanley gets the girl of his dreams Tina, they kiss and get rid of the mask. What they did was very brave and is the most prominent lesson in the movie for the audience; that to be ourselves, we need nothing except ourselves.
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, 1995
"Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" or rather Ace Ventura 2 as it is sometimes referred to in fashionable circles showcases Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura coming out of retirement to rescue a rare white bat, the totem animal of an African tribe. Like the first movie, it is rated PG-13. The setting of the film was first of all very fresh and, compared to some ideas in the first movie, a hundred times more original. There is a scene where Jim Carrey is trapped inside a mechanical rhino naked, and he crawls out of the rhino through a hole underneath its tail.
To the tourist family watching, who expect the birthing of a baby rhino, they see something very unexpected. It is a gross scene for the onlooking adults, but their boy remarks "cool." It shows the various points of views shown throughout the movie especially from observers of different age groups, race, and social upbringing. In some ways, the character of "Ace" has changed from the first movie. Some elements of Jim Carrey's "Mask" character are present in "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" (Drake, 76). In some instance, there is a clip where Ace dodges poison darts, twisting and bending so acrobatically, it looks like an animation.
The movie is like seeing Ace Ventura through many sets of eyes and interpreting each view independent of another; which is the central core of the film. The audience gets to wonder how Ace Ventura has been spending his short-lived retirement. One widespread view is that the second movie is a big calamity which tried to build on the castle-in-the-air feel of the first movie; a slap-stick laughable mess, so to say. However, some of the younger viewers felt a connection with the type of slapstick humor all throughout the movie. Like the first movie it divided critical reviews- Rotten Tomatoes rated it 33%.
Man on the Moon, 1999
In this biopic showcasing the life of Andy Kaufmann, Jim Carrey displays his spot-on impression of the dead celebrity comic. Growing up, Jim Carrey watched stand-up comedy. Andy Kaufmann was a comic whom he idolized a lot. Hence, when the chance came to play him, Jim Carrey was more than delighted. He was honored, and he would put all the effort required and some more into depicting Kaufmann. In this regard, Man on the Moon has a 63% critical consensus review rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Viewers who had watched Andy Kaufmann perform were delighted by Jim Carrey's performance.
In a Netflix documentary of 2017 called "Jim and Andy," Jim Carrey shares his feelings on portraying Andy Kaufmann. It was challenging for Jim Carrey, but on the upside was the fact that he had spent all his life making impressions of anybody and pretty much everybody. Jim Carrey names his father as the one person who pushed to do whatever he wanted to do.
Jim recounts how his father Percy, an accountant by profession, did not have the time to pursue his passion which was to be a musician. His father got fired from his accountancy position when he was 51 years old. Jim Carrey was emotional about this scenario in the interview. He retorted that "I learned that you could fail at what you do not love, "so you might as well do what you love."
In Man on the Moon, Jim Carrey's impression of comedian Andy Kaufmann has all the elements that made Kaufmann's comedy so unique, relatable and all the more outrageous. With tremendous energy, gyrating hips, flapping hands and snarling lips, it is like Kaufmann has risen from the grave (Kerr, 12). Jim Carrey admitted being a method actor in this specific role. He wanted to be like Kaufmann in every possible way and the performance while being an accurate depiction was nevertheless criticized for being too much so. In Hollywood, it is very hard, very impossible, to impress everybody.
Like every other act and screen personality he had been in so far, Jim Carrey admitted to having a dichotomous character. In fact, he said that he had a Jekyll and Hyde in his portrayals; saying that he had a Hyde inside him that came out when people were watching him. In the movie, Jim Carrey stayed in character all throughout the shooting, refusing to respond to being called Jim. He insisted on being named Andy or Tony; such was his dedication. It was an excellent method acting on the part of Jim Carrey. Up to this point, method acting had been a technique favored by drama and thriller actors such as Marlon Brando in various movies such as "The Godfather."
General Impact on Slapstick Comedy
Slapstick humor was not just Jim Carrey's Hollywood big secret. Even as a baby, he entertained his family with slapstick. At school, he made impressions of anyone and anything- especially perceptions of animals. Jim Carrey as a boy was a delightful ball of high energy extroversion. He kept the energy growing up, through his stand up. Even in "In Living Color," he is all enthusiasm. Jim Carrey gave and gave and gave. Jim Carrey personalized passion and made it his avenue for all his performances. There was no other way of acting for Jim Carrey. It was either give all or give nothing.
Unique in his brand of comedy, Jim Carrey did not stop at delivery. He used costumes a lot- and accompanying make-up too. In "The Mask" he wore green face paint every time they were shooting. Cameron Diaz who played Tina his love interest in the movie admitted that the face paint was scary especially as every other time Jim Carrey had to remove it at the end of the day of shooting. Nevertheless, this did not stop Jim Carrey from putting on the make-up, wearing the costumes and dancing ridiculously. Hence, he encouraged comedians never to stop experimenting, improvising and breaking the boundaries of what it means to be a comic.
In conclusion, virtually every one of us has in one way or another enjoyed Jim Carrey's movies and performances. Jim Carrey's career in the 2000s saw him venture out into hitherto new parts of Hollywood. In 2004 he starred in "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," a psychological thriller and Science Fiction film alongside Kate Winslet (Rosenstock, 119).
In the movie the duo act as a couple who have stopped loving each other and so proceed to remove all the memories of each other from their minds. However, they meet again and what made them fall in love the first time brings them together yet again. This type of movie was something which fans of Jim Carrey had not seen him tackle before. The film has become a cult classic, with a 93% approval r...
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