Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Top 5 Movie Guide: Jim Carrey

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we take a look at some of our favorite films featuring actor Jim Carrey, co-star of this weekend's "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone". Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Carrey was always a natural performer, even doing regular stand-up routines for his junior high classmates. A few years later, still determined to make it as a comedian, Carrey dropped out of high school at the age of 16 (he was a straight-A student). He spent the first years of his career mostly performing in comedy clubs and appearing in bit film and television roles. In 1988, while on the set of "Earth Girls Are Easy", Carrey hit it off with co-star Damon Wayans. Wayans and his brother, Keenen Ivory Wayans, were in the process of putting together a sketch comedy show and wanted Carrey to be a part of it. He agreed, and quickly became of of the biggest stand-outs on "In Living Color".


Only a few years later, Carrey was a box office monster. His first starring roles, all in 1994, came in the films "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective", "The Mask", and "Dumb & Dumber". Only two years later, with only a small handful of films under his belt, Carrey became the first actor to ever command a $20MM salary for a film (Julia Roberts would become the second four years later). He was the fifth-highest grossing star of the 1990's, picking up a slew of award nominations along the way. He's been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, winning two ("The Truman Show", 1998, and "Man on the Moon", 1999). Many felt he deserved an Academy Award nomination for his work in "The Truman Show", but unfortunately it did not come. At the time, Carrey lashed out at the Academy, stating that the organization was narrow-minded. He has, however, been nominated for a total of 23 MTV Movie Awards and won 11, both records for an individual.

Not many film roles have truly eluded him, though he did lose out on two separate roles to Johnny Depp, both "The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". Also, Carrey was the original choice to play the lead role is "Meet the Parents" (2000). While Ben Stiller would eventually replace him, Carrey still assisted with some of the jokes in the script (we can thank him for the idea to name the title character "Focker").

There's no doubt that Jim Carrey has and will always be seen as an icon of the comedy genre. His extremely outgoing persona and physical style is unmatched by his peers. While his star has faded some in recent years, he still continues to be a popular face on the comedy scene.


Alex Schopp -
So many great options for this list that all have strong roots to my childhood. That being said, comedies just don't typically hold up that well with me, and while it was hard decide which five to go with, none of these are anywhere close to any of my all-time favorites.

     1. The Truman Show (1998)

This film takes the top spot because we still get some classic Jim Carrey comedy, but also a nice dose of drama and some actual characters. This is a fascinating concept, and I thought Carrey did a great job in his portrayal of a character in this situation. If reality television were actually like this, maybe I would watch it.
     2. The Cable Guy (1996)
A great dark comedy that I admittedly didn't appreciate much when I was younger. But as I got older and re-watched the film a few times, I understood the bigger messages the film was presenting. And I enjoy the darker tones to some of the lighter fare that Carrey generally appears in. Matthew Broderick and Jim Carrey were perfect for the two lead roles.
     3. Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
Again, a darker take on Carrey's slapstick antics. Renee Zellweger doesn't do much for me, but overall the film is still enjoyable. I really like the dry wit that this movie embodies.
     4. Dumb & Dumber (1994)
This may be the most quoted movie from our generation. Carrey and Jeff Daniels play off of each other perfectly. While I get bored of this over-the-top "dumb" humor pretty quick, it's still a great comedy that is iconic in so many ways. Even having seen it more times than I can count, there are still parts that make me laugh.
     5. The Mask (1994)
Wait, is this the movie we most quoted? It wasn't quite as consistent as the film above, and has probably aged far worse, but it was definitely louder and flashier, thus making it more appealing to our young eyeballs. I haven't watched this movie for a long time now, but I always really enjoyed this one as a youngster.

Ben Foutch -
I can't believe a couple of films in particular that didn't make this list given the wear and tear on their respective VHS copies.

     1. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

I must have drove my parents crazy with the constant Ace impressions.
     2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Even though I'm a fan of some of his pure slapstick variety, it's always nice to see Jim act in a quality film.
     3. The Cable Guy (1996)
I remember seeing this in the theater and finding out soon after that most of the kids and teachers at school that had seen it didn't like the overwhelmingly dark humor. I wonder if they've come around since then.
     4. The Truman Show (1998)
It's modeled like a standard Jim Carrey film and was even marketed like one, but there are some thought-provoking ideas on display that you normally wouldn't see in his comedies.
     5. Dumber & Dumber (1994)
The Jim Carrey/Jeff Daniels team-up works better on screen than it probably sounded in theory. Even though it would probably be fun to see them in the sequel, the Farrelly Brothers' recent output puts little faith in the project.

Derek Clem -
This might be the hardest list I've made so far. I've loved so many of his movies so much and over-watched them so much that they've all fallen into the same spot in my heart. At different points of my life pretty much every major movie he made between 1994 and 1998 was at one point my favorite Jim Carrey movie.

     1. The Truman Show (1998)

I feel like I can safely put this at #1 based on the man I am today. It has everything: high watchability while remaining contemplative, possessing both comedy and dramatic themes. Plus, it's spooky how spot-on Andrew Niccol and Peter Weir were on predicting the direction of television.
     2. The Mask (1994)
Of all his movies, this is the one I've watched the most. I loved it so much as a child. I'm amazed that my VHS copy is still intact.
     3. Liar Liar (1997)
He has so much energy in all of his movies. It's a lot of fun watching him fight himself trying to get lies out of his mouth. I feel like this is too high on my list but the high watchability has remained pretty consistent as years have passed; though the older I get the more I dislike his son.
     4. Batman Forever (1995)
I was obsessed with Jim Carrey as The Riddler. My first exposure to The Riddler was the 1960's Batman television show, so to me, Carrey was perfectly cast. The dark pallet keeps me from watching this as often as I used to.
     5. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
I'm surprised that this isn't higher on my list. When I was younger I'd go to school dressed as Ace Ventura just to do it. Not for Halloween, not for dress as your favorite movie character day, I just did it to do it, and I stayed in character all day. I'm sure the teachers loved it!

Nathan Hinds -
He is one of the all time greats of comedy. Unfortunately, as is with most of the guys who stick to this genre through most of their career, he has been on a dry streak for quite a while. Luckily, he has two highly promising movies in his near future: "Kick-Ass 2" and the sequel to "Dumb & Dumber".

     1. Dumb & Dumber (1994)

It's my favorite comedy, easy #1 choice.
     2. Liar Liar (1997)
"The pen is blue. The pen is blue. The goddamn pen is blue!" My favorite line from another one of my favorite comedies.
     3. Batman Forever (1995)
I think this film gets a lot of unnecessary hate because it's so closely associated with "Batman & Robin" (which also gets too much hate in my opinion).
     4. The Truman Show (1998)
This is such a great premise. I was so frustrated for Carrey's character throughout the entire film. The ending of this movie is amazing.
     5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
This is one of my favorite Christmas movies. One of the few Christmas movies I've been known to watch in the middle of summer.

Tracy Allison -

     1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

I’m a huge fan of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s movies and this one is no exception. He has an uncanny ability to make a movie like none I've ever seen before. I think this was the first movie that I saw in which Jim Carrey had shed a bit of his funnyman persona, and over the years I've grown to prefer his dramatic fare often. What I love is that he can still inject some fun and comedy into those roles. This is one of my favorite films, and I can’t do it justice here in this small description.
     2. The Truman Show (1998)
This movie is like a fine wine. There are some movies that can’t stand the test of time but, this one has become even more relevant. The Truman Show has Carrey again in more thoughtful and dramatic fare and he shines in a role in which opposing forces try to dictate his life. It’s a morality tale and also a commentary on the impact that media has on present human life.
     3. Dumb & Dumber (1994)
Is this my most quoted movie of all time? This movie is exactly what the title suggests. Even if some of the jokes fall flat for you, there’s another one right around the corner in this ridiculous farce. Jeff Daniels is the perfect counterpart for Jim Carrey here. Carrey somehow makes this ridiculous dork a lovable, ridiculous dork. If you can get a time machine, try to go back and watch this as a child at least seven times.
     4. The Majestic (2001)
This oft underrated movie is just the right amount of meta. It’s aware of itself and its commentary without being kitschy or obnoxious. I especially admire Carrey’s acting chops in scenes in which life changing realizations are made. His quiet and jarring ability to be stunned while his eyes fill with tears is something I've admired in the likes of Sam Neill (especially in "Jurassic Park" and "Bicentennial Man") as well and I don’t see many actors who can portray this quite so convincingly.
     5. Liar Liar (1997)
An unrealistic concept with heart, this movie gave Jim Carrey a chance for his physical comedy to truly shine. Even though his character is a bit of a jerk, deep down he’s good and the viewer is sympathetic to that. Carrey is best in likable roles, and this is no exception.

There we have it, folks. Overall, only eleven different films depicted above this week, and eight of them in multiple fashion. A very tight grouping from what we've seen recently in our Filmmaker editions. And while nowhere near enshrinement (only two first-place votes), we do have a film that hit on all five lists this week: "The Truman Show". It feels like it's been a while since we've seen a film resonate with all five writers, but "The Truman Show" is definitely a film that deserved the recognition this week. A great mix of comedy and drama, with great commentary both on personal and societal levels, this film should appease most viewers.

Just behind it was "Dumb & Dumber", which received four votes. If you recall back to our Farrelly Brothers list, this film narrowly avoided enshrinement at the time. It was again well represented this time around, but may have now missed its two best chances at ever being enshrined. Still, this is a classic comedy that, while a bit overwhelming at times, is guaranteed to make anyone laugh at least a few times.

Otherwise, "Liar Liar" was the lone film with three selections, while "The Cable Guy", "The Mask", "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", and "Batman Forever" were the films each received two picks this week. A wide selection; much more than we have time to detail. All great options though and worth checking out if you haven't already.

As always, we hope that each of these selections helps you to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that Jim Carrey has provided over the years, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!