Man on the Moon review by Tom Blain

Who Cares?

If Jim Carrey is an aquired taste, what could be said about Andy Kaufman? Beyond that, what could be said about Carrey playing Kaufman? Well whatever it is, its Man on the Moon.

Backin' up a step.

The Andy Kaufman bandwagon began rolling once again a little over 10 years after his 1984 passing. A generation, including myself, had not be exposed to Andy's style of humor so a number of Biography type shows were aired. One show in particular which I saw was on Comedy Central. I didn't understand the derranged humor of this man who took joy in pissing other people off. He was like Tom Green but (yeah here comes the hurt....) completely unfunny. And here were these Hollywood talking airheads (including queen airhead Marilu Henner) recounting the moment of genius; as if she had witnessed, in her career, a comedy greater than all other comedy.

So the bandwagon kept on rollin' and gained some sort of media speed. When this happens, someone like Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander (inkers of Screwed, Problem Child, and the monumental That Darn Cat) begin to pen the movie and Milos Forman takes charge to direct it. (Milos...Milos... how can you sink so low, when at times you rise so HIGH!?). Who will play the leading role... the role of a real man who has pased away no more than 15 years prior? Jim Carrey, I suppose, is as perfect a fit as anybody for this role. He can be an irriating comic, and Kaufman was an irritating comic. Give a cameo to Richard "I've been in every terrible movie made since Fame" Belzer and BAM you have a movie.

Andy Kaufman was a prankster first and comedian second. He was eccentric and strange but apparently for a short period of time people loved him. He had a bit of a stand up routine, including his obnoxious alter-ego Tony Clifton. At the height of his career, he was on the famous sitcom "Taxi". During the low-point, he was doing what he could to irriate people. He toured college campuses for a comedy routine but instead recited The Great Gatsby. Why? Because it was funny to him. Later, he joined the WWF and began a career as a man who only wrestled women. In true WWF form, he was vulgar and outrageous. People who watched him, hated him. Why did he do it? Again, it was funny to him. Everything he did was some sort of prank or practical joke. Even the people he was closest to didnt know when he was or wasn't kidding. His jokes were taken to a self-distructive level, and when he admitted to having lung cancer who would believe him? Classic tale of the boy who cried wolf.

As the movie draws towards a close we are asked (not direclty, but indirectly of course) to embrace this tragic mind. He was ahead of his time and possibly a misunderstood genius. People at his funeral clap along to this boyishly, silly tape recording he created for his funeral. Every joins in, even people who didnt get along with him because in the end, apparently they got the joke and had a little chuckle.

Not me.

This movie should not have been made. What is there to say about Kaufman? That we should love him just because he was a jerky comic? Throughout the movie you saw how his comedy hurt others. He scared the be-jesus out of people with his offensive, loud-mouthed, brutish Tony Clifton. He disappointed loyal fans who thought they would see a comedy routine but instead spent their money to be targets of his practical jokes. He disappointed and embarrased his parents everytime he was on TV following his Taxi run. His poor wife was humiliated on national TV countless times during wrestling matches. And as said above, he cried wolf so many times people didn't believe he was dying. Should I cry for him now? Thats asking quite a bit.

I had a longshot hope that, Man on the Moon would show me what the Comedy Central special had not. I wanted to see insight as to why the media of the late 90s wanted me to fall in love with this fallen comic. Its wasn't apparent to me then and after seeing Man in the Moon I remain unconvinced that Kaufman is a character who could be labeled "redeemable", let alone "funny."




1 out of 10 Jackasses
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