(Review originally written at 16 January 2007)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a perfectly good and entertaining movie to watch. However as a biopic the movie remains pretty shallow and we never fully get to understand the character, though that also would had been virtually impossible, considering who's the subject of the movie.

Not really Milos Forman's fault that the movie remains too shallow, since he's obviously capable of making an unsympathetic and unpredictable character accessible and likable (watch "The People vs. Larry Flynt", for instance). This movie doesn't ever really gives us an impression of the real Andy Kaufman. It's hard to tell in the movie when he's trying to be serious and when he's joking around. This is also due to Jim Carrey's acting. If you look at footage of the real Andy Kaufman you'll notice how incredibly natural and subtle his humor is He's not ever acting, he's just natural. Jim Carrey, no matter how great he is in his role, is clearly acting and playing a character. Guess that Andy Kaufman just wasn't the right subject to pick. He was too complex and unpredictable to make a fascinating and engaging biopic about. It has always been hard to define Andy Kaufman, since he was not your ordinary comedian and never referred to himself as being one.Having watched this movie, I still have no idea of who the real Kaufman was and what drove him and went on in his head.

Don't get me wrong, Carrey is great, I mean he gets really absorbed by its character but he just isn't Kaufman. It perhaps makes his performance- as the entire movie a bit overrated.

It's fun to see that lots of persons involving Kaufman's life and career play themselves in this movie such as most of the "Taxi" cast, Jerry Lawler and David Letterman. But the movie also features some other great 'real' actors such as Danny DeVito, Vincent Schiavelli, Paul Giamatti and Courtney Love.

The movie focuses on Kaufman's entire career as a comedian (and wrestler!). Obviously a lot to put in a merely 2 hour movie but the movie manages very well to put the interesting and groundbreaking legendary things of his career into the movie. It also makes sure that the movie always keeps pace, though its not always for the best of the movie. Basically in a 15 minutes time-span we go from the beginning illness, to Kaufman's Carnegie Hall performance and his death. The movie doesn't leave much room for thinking. Perhaps also a reason why the movie remains pretty shallow, though the movie still has some good emotions in it.

So the story-flow is a little offbeat at times and things happen to fast and are forgotten in the next sequence again. It's perhaps the only flow in the otherwise great directing (though the audience reaction in the movie were also distractingly overdone at times with lots of over-the-top laughing and standing ovations, as if Kaufman was some sort of God to everyone.) and entertainingly written story.

It's definitely true that the movie focuses on the more merry aspects of Kaufman's life. For instance the birth of his give up for adoption child with his only 17 year old girlfriend is not mentioned at all in any form in the movie. The movie focuses on the humorous side of life and is made in the same style as Kaufman's kind of humor. Guess that the movie is pretty much like Kaufman himself would had liked it

But even if you weren't a Kaufman fan, I think this movie would be still one worth watching. It's greatly directed with good productions values and a solid cast.

More entertaining than engaging or interesting really.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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