When he first arrived on the scene, the manic comedy of Jim Carrey saw him save money for studios on special effects (The Mask), turn tepid films in huge hits (Ace Ventura 2) and take roles that previously you suspected were going to be given to Robin Williams (Batman Forever). But his career has been broader than it’s given credit for, and here we chart how it’s gone, ever since Ace Ventura gave him that first breakthrough…Ace Ventura: Pet DetectiveVery much a one-man vehicle, the first Ace Ventura was one of the earlier examples of the trailer packing everything in, leaving behind a film that worked well as an occasionally funny showcase of its star, but not a lot more. Still, it was quite a hit…The Mask A real breakthrough, in that it proved Carrey was more than a one-film wonder. The film has its problems, but for this writer at least, it remains a huge ‘guilty’ pleasure. Carrey fits the title role perfectly, and it also gave Cameron Diaz her own big breakthrough performance. The Cuban Pete number is the best thing in it.Dumb & Dumber One of the funnier Carrey comedies, helped enormously by him teaming up with Jeff Daniels. It’s a duo that works extremely well, and while the film has some mighty guffaws for your money. It drags a bit, and thus could have used a bit more time in the edit suite, but it whacks the funnybone regularly enough.Batman Forever Or ‘where the Batman franchise went horribly, horribly wrong’. For years, it was assumed that Robin Williams would play The Riddler, and then up popped Carrey as seemingly the perfect fit. He wasn’t too bad, either, but the film around him was a chaotic, at times amazingly dull and tepid superhero movie.
Ace Ventura: When Nature CallsFor a man not known for doing sequels (he passed on follow ups to The Grinch and Bruce Almighty, among others), it’s perhaps apt that he was involved in two on the trot, and neither was any good. Ace Ventura 2 is the excesses of Carrey without any control, and it’s a fair struggle of a film as a result. Huge hit, though…The Cable Guy
The film that made Jim Carrey the first actor to receive a $20m paycheque, and inevitably it underwhelmed at the box office. A pity, because while The Cable Guy is flawed, and not a particularly good film, it is a risky one, and in different hands could have been far creepier, rather than the hybrid, muddled summer blockbuster that was eventually delivered.Liar LiarThere’s one joke in Liar Liar, and when Carrey is given free reign to explore it – that he finds himself unable to lie – then the film is very funny. Sadly, that bit lasts for about 10 minutes or so, amongst all of the schmaltz and sugar that Hollywood had in its cupboard at the time. Watch the clips, rather than the movie…
The Truman Show
Man On The MoonIf The Truman Show is Carrey’s finest feature, then Man On The Moon is arguably his best outright performance. He’s outstanding in the lead role of Milos Forman’s biopic of Andy Kaufman, mixing in restraint, humour and flat-out acting ability to quite brilliant effect. The film has problems, but it’s still very worth watching.Me, Myself & Irene Carrey teams up with the Farrelly Brothers for the first time since Dumb & Dumber, and it really doesn’t work. He plays a man with multiple personality disorder, a mechanic that allows him to deliver two characters for your asking price. It has a few good moments to it, but this finds all concerned a good deal below their best, sadly…How The Grinch Stole Christmas Carrey’s biggest hit. It’s a generally sound adaptation of the Dr Seuss story, and Carrey makes for an outstanding Grinch. The film itself looks excellent, but it’s undermined by its hypocritical preaching (commercialism is bad!), and the inevitable need to sugar wrap everything many times over by the end.The Majestic Frank Darabont’s overlong, but underrated, love letter to a bygone age, The Majestic is a 1950s film in both setting and feel about a man with memory loss who stumbles into a small town. Turns out that he’s a writer in Hollywood, who happens to be on the blacklist. While The Majestic really does drag from time to time, it’s very well made, and better than it’s given credit for.
Bruce AlmightyAnother one-joke comedy, this time pitching Carrey as God. Once again though, in conjunction with his Liar Liar director Tom Shadyac, too little time is given to Carrey doing what we’ve paid good money to see, and too much is handed over to the uninteresting plot and sweetening elements. This continues to be a puzzle, because for the majority of his comedies, Carrey has effectively been straightjacketed for all but a short period of time. Still, huge box office numbers perhaps explain the reasoning behind the decision.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate EventsIt’s still a surprise that this didn’t get to $120m at the US box office, as surely it’s got more strength, entertainment and outright quality than any Harry Potter film you could pluck off the shelf. A kids’ movie with a real edge to it, this is one of Carrey’s least-celebrated, but most impressive films.
The Number 2312 minutesNo star rating for this one, just the amount of time I watched it for before reaching for the off button. Sorry, Jim.
Horton Hears A WhoN/a
Again, I can’t fully rate this one myself, but according to those close to me who have seen it, it’s a solid, three-star kids movie, for which Carrey delivers some voiceover work.
Not seen: Fun With Dick & Jane
Feel free to debate that little lot in the comments!