Puppies, New Posts, and Jim Carrey

I owe you a new post, a few in fact.  I have been working on my essay for class, it’s a first year English course and I may be taking it more seriously than I need to, given my inherent ability in the first place.  I have been working very hard on it in fact, so much, that I would like to post it for everyone to read.  But first I have to introduce you to Otis who stayed with us for a weekend while Jacelyn went ghost hunting here.

This is Otis.  He is a very sweet little guy.

While he was hanging out with us he liked to sit on top of the futon in the basement with me while I worked at night.

Pickle Pie thought it was awesome to stalk Sweet Otis until Otis found out that hisses and clawless paws don’t hurt.  Pickle was in for it then, but first Otis looked to me for protection.

Not my best picture by far.  Yikes!

Now on to the super exciting essay I wrote on Jim Carrey.  You know, the one I have spent working on for the last 3 weeks.  I am really proud of it and it’s basically a conversation I have had with other fans of Carrey when he is at his best.  With no further ado I give you an untitled essay about my three favorite dramatic Jim Carrey roles.  Be gentle!

“I’m willing to lose everything to express that side of myself. I’m willing to give it all up.”  When Jim Carrey was a small boy his mother was bedridden, out of a small boy’s desire to make his mom feel better, Jim Carrey began to create what would become the foundation for his career in film.  He broke onto the comedy film scene in 1994 with his three most successful funny characters, Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber, and Stanley Ipkiss in The Mask.  His comedy crossed boundaries in ways that hadn’t been done before, as if each character had been written with Carrey in mind.  The common themes found in all Jim Carrey comedy films include his intense physical comedy and elastic like facial features; he was the first person to ever mimic talking with his own ass on film.  In contrast, Carrey plays three vastly different characters in his three most acclaimed dramatic roles, Truman Burbank, Andy Kaufman, and Joel Barish.  Carrey is the highest paid comedy actor in the world and nets 25 million dollars per film.  In order to explore the dramatic side of his career Carrey takes large pay cuts to perform in films that speak to him.  He also takes chances with a fan base that would prefer to see him eschew dramatic roles in favor of continuing to be everybody’s favorite funnyman.

“Somebody help me, I’m being spontaneous!”  Truman Burbank.  In 1998 Carrey accepted his first major dramatic role as Truman Burbank in The Truman Show.  Truman is a man who has unknowingly spent his entire existence as the star of his own reality show.  He lives a wonderfully oblivious life with a cast of Hollywood actors who have signed on to work on the set of the show for life, to grow up with Truman, live with him, and form relationships with him, all under false pretenses.  During the course of a normal morning a studio light falls from the sky and lands in front of Truman’s house, spurring him on to look at his environment differently and ask questions that had been taught out of him during his naturally inquisitive formative years.  “We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented; it’s as simple as that.”  Christof.  We watch as Truman seeks answers from a cast of actors with the ultimate goal of keeping him oblivious to the nature of his existence.  I was surprised with his ability to portray the emotions of a man who had just discovered his entire life had been nothing but fodder for entertainment to the masses.  His ability to project his emotions to me through the screen left me entranced.  When he puts his foot down and makes a stand for his freedom I can’t help but cheer for him with tears and grins of excitement for the opportunity Truman will have to finally learn about himself and the nature of humanity.  The movie explores not only the exploitation of human lives via reality shows but also the gross extent the human species will go to in order to entertain themselves.  Carrey’s performance helped me understand that there are limits to one’s desire for entertainment.  Respect for human life, freedom, and ability to choose are inherent rights that every human being has and they should always be upheld.  The idea of a future where an idea such as The Truman Show could be a reality worries me, it also spurs me on to model my belief in a human beings right to choose the life he wants and to have a hand in creating his own experiences.

“Andy, you have to look inside and ask this question: who are you trying to entertain – the audience or yourself?”  George Shapiro.  Man on the Moon gave Carrey the opportunity to act on film as one of his earliest and most inspirational influences.   To audition for the part Carrey sent the director of the film a videotape of himself as Andy.  He took the role so seriously that he lived in character as either Andy Kaufman or Tony Clifton (a Kaufman alter ego) during the entirety of filming.  Carrey’s ability to play this role comes from not only talent but also desire.  Andy Kaufman was considered a comedian before his time.  He could repel and draw an audience with equal ease; each encounter whether positive or negative was exactly what he wanted it to be.  He was able to orchestrate flawless pranks that he carried farther than most people would ever allow.  The very public altercation with Jerry Lawler and Andy Kaufman comes to mind, as well as Carrey’s real life re-enactment of it on the set of the film which ended with Carrey in a head lock and ultimately an injured neck.  Jim Carrey has often been compared to Andy Kaufman in his comedy, and watching him bring the character to life within the movie was uncanny.  After watching his performance I watched videos of Andy Kaufman that were recreated during the film and I found it difficult at times to tell one from the other.  Carrey’s performance was one that went beyond mere impersonation, he was intent on not playing Kaufman, but becoming him.  The proficiency he displays in stepping out of his own skin and into another’s is a testimony to his talent as a performer.  The lengths he went to, effectively turned him from an actor into an artistan artist with respect for his medium and his influences which can be rare to find these days.  Man on the Moon is Carrey’s ultimate achievement as an actor to date, and while I am not an Andy Kaufman fan, the performance Carrey gave is worthy of mention in any article concerning his acclaimed dramatic performances based on the technical merit of his talent alone.

“It would be different, if we could just give it another go-round.”  Joel Barish.  The third film in this triptych, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, brings the character Joel Barish forth for the world to glimpse.  Carrey portrays his character as shy and withdrawn; he looks weathered and seems to be irritatingly socially awkward.   Joel meets Clementine on a bus to Montauk; it is the second time they have met for the first time.  Through flashbacks we are introduced to a fictional procedure which purports to completely erase unwanted memories, and we find out that after a tumultuous relationship, Joel and Clem have broken up and Clem has erased all of her memories of Joel.  Joel reacts by booking an appointment to erase his memories of Clementine, until he realizes it is something he does not want to do.  The remainder of the film is spent crawling with Joel through a mind full of memories that he does not want erased, running away from the idea of losing the only part of Clementine he has left.  We watch as Joel frantically relieves his past with Clementine, while at the same time watching him lose forever the knowledge that he once loved someone with every part of himself.  The movie explores memory and the act of visiting the most painful ones to see with hindsight the mistakes that you made; the act of consciously choosing to do so requires a desire to understand what happened, what could have happened differently, and what role you played in the situation, good and bad.  Carrey plays a man with a true second chance.  His chance comes with the 20/20 hindsight we all have when it is already too late.  Memories we hold affect our decisions on levels we are not usually even aware of.  The process of learning from our mistakes can be long and hard.  Joel’s determination to convince Clementine at the end to try again, despite the evidence they have of the breakdown of their relationship was the ultimate expression of love.  He accepts the possibility of the relationship going sour again; ultimately he only wants the memory of her back.  Carrey plays the role of a man simultaneously running away and toward the same thing.  His portrayal as a love sick, withdrawn, and complex artist is a departure from his normally quite energetic characters.

While all of Jim Carrey’s comedy has common themes related to his execution and performance, he explores multiple themes within his dramatic work ranging from rebirth to abandonment.  He set the bar high for himself with his performance in The Truman Show.  Present Carrey with a compelling script, an amazing director, and a strong supporting cast and as evidenced by his subsequent performances in Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you receive a performance in return that is raw and real.  When Jim Carrey steps into the shoes of a character he believes in, it’s hard to remember he is a seasoned actor and not a newcomer I’ve never seen before.


3 thoughts on “Puppies, New Posts, and Jim Carrey

  1. Pingback: Sarah 139/365 « Envisage 365

  2. I’ve occasionally thought of Carrey as an obsessive guy who has turned his pathology into gold. I like him but probably couldn’t live with him. That won’t be a problem, tho. No invitations forthcoming… You told his personal and professional story well, Sarah.

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