Jim Carrey is an actor who time and time again demonstrates the range that he has, despite his solidified reputation as a brilliant comedian. He has been playing leading roles since his meteoric rise to fame in the 90s that have become classics such as Ace Ventura and The Mask. There is a reason why he was Hollywood’s highest paid actor at one point, he has such charisma that his films are incredibly fun to watch. It is unbelievable to think that he has never been nominated for an Academy Award despite winning two Golden Globes and showing that he is capable of pulling off performances that are memorable and impactful.
Carrey was one of my favourite actors growing up. I loved watching his films thanks to his larger than life characters and his hilarious physical comedy, particularly his dramatic expressions. What has been wonderful about Carrey’s career is seeing him evolve and taking part in a variety of differing roles from his mid-90s expressive comedy to his more serious roles in the late 90s and early 2000s. Like marmite, people tend to either love or hate Carrey’s work and I am definitely in the former.
Here are my top 5 Jim Carrey performances in chronological order:
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)
One of those rare instances where I enjoy the sequel much more than the original, Carrey reprises his role as the titular pet detective which sees Ventura recruited for a mission to retrieve a rare white bat that belongs to the native Wachati tribe. The film is an explosion of signature Carrey jokes and the film is my personal highlight of the mid-90s period where Carrey was all the rage. His unpredictability still remains the main point of attention for audiences as we watch him knock out a man and wear him on his shoulders to make a point on the fur trade as well as numerous musical moments including a hilarious rendition of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. My personal highlight, however, is the seen in which he encounters the bats for the first time bringing us great lines such as “take that, you winged spawn of Satan” and “die, devil bird”. His filmography at thie point in his career wasn’t for everyone as it is so over the top but personally, I love it and it’s interesting watching this film back and watching it from an animal rights point of view.
The Truman Show (1998)
The film that showed an entirely different side to Carrey’s range, The Truman Show sees Carrey play Truman, a man who believes he is living a regular suburban life when in fact it is a reality show filled with actors that is broadcast to the world. Truman begins to suspect that something isn’t quite right and tries to escape the edge of his town where he hasn’t been before. It’s a poignant film about identity and finding that sense of belonging. Truman’s life has always unknowingly been synonomous with a global audience who share his journey. Truman has always been controlled by the show’s creator, Christoph (Ed Harris) who acts like the puppet master. He adds in drama and conflict if Truman’s life is going swimmingly. Carrey’s performance is a true tour de force thanks to his naive and subtle approach to the role. He is able to detract from the typecast view that he has created in his filmography thus far. It is because of his ability to switch between ranges so well that won him a Golden Globe for his troubles.
Man on the Moon (1999)
Following on from his critical and commercial success as Truman in The Truman Show, Carrey knocks it out of the park again in this biopic that seems him play Andy Kaufman, a man who redefined comedy in the 1970s. This film sees Carrey join forces with the brillint director Milos Forman and gives him the chance to show that The Truman Show performance wasn’t a stroke of luck. His portrayal of Kaufman is fantastic as we follow his rise in comedy and his stints on Saturday Night Live as well as the TV show Taxi which he starred in. The film overall isn’t the best but usually biopics allow for the actor portraying the subject to really standout as Carrey does here. He is the major draw and highlight but this isn’t a bad thing because he has such command on the role. Also hearing how he stayed in character offset shows his commitment and dedication to getting his performance right shows that he does take his roles seriously. His impersonation strikes the right tone, it is never over the top in classic Jim Carrey style and eventually the audience forgets that we are watching an actor rather than Kaufman himself.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
My favourite Jim Carrey performance comes in the form of this career-defining film following Joel (Carrey), a man unhappy with his life who finds out that his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had her memory wiped off him by the mysterious Lacuna Incorporated and shows him undergoing the same treatment to get rid of his memories of Clementine. Charlie Kaufman’s script is fantastic and won him a well-deserved Oscar that has redefined original screenplay writing in the 21st century. The concept is so bizarre and yet the humour is subdued within a darker context making way for the film to focus on the drama within Joel and Clementine’s relationship. Carrey’s performance should have garnered him an Academy Award nomination but sadly it wasn’t to be. His portrayal of Joel is tinged with sadness throughout. The idea of not being with Clementine initially to the realisation that he will lose all memories of her while he is being forced to relive the memories during his procedure. It’s a heartbreaking film about the breakdown of a relationship and is made real by the strength of Carrey and WInslet’s performance.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
2004 was a resounding success for Carrey who made an unforgettable appearance in this popular adaptation of the best-selling series of the same name. Playing the villainous Count Olaf, Carrey channels his signature overtly expressive humour as his figuratively and literally towers over the three bauldelaire orphans who are subject to his care after the tragic death of their parents. The film is littered with stars including Joan Cusack, Timothy Spall and Meryl Streep but it is Carrey who shines the most. His performance was exactly how I envisioned Count Olaf would be when reading the books. The film overall strikes a completely different tone but Carrey’s performance is overly dramatic, unapologetically obnoxious and loud but most importantly, he has charisma which is crucial for the role. The film does have its flaws but Carrey’s performance is definitely not one. He is clearly having fun being in such a menacing role and it makes the film enjoyable to watch.
There are so many performances that could have been included in this list such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) and Bruce Almighty (2003) but I think that the films I have listed above really demonstrate Carrey at his best. Although he hasn’t done many major roles in recent years, i hope he does make a comeback because it’ll be interesting to see what kinds of roles he would take on.
Do you agree with the films I have picked? Which Jim Carrey performance and/or film is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!