Jim Carrey appears in this week’s hyper violent sequel Kick Ass 2 as a former mob enforcer who’s re-invented himself as military-themed hero called ‘Colonel Stars and Stripes’. With the help of some prosthetic make-up and a thick Noo Yawk accent, he’s next to unrecognisable in this film.
For us, this performance serves to highlight how underrated he continues to be as an actor. Despite the fact he’s appeared in a wide-range of films including a number of classic drama, he’s still seen by many as just a slapsticky, Jerry Lewis figure.
For the sake of argument, we’re counting down what we believe to be Jim Carrey’s 8 Greatest Film Roles.
Liar Liar is the kind of concept comedy no one seems to make anymore. Jim Carrey plays a lawyer whose lifestyle seeming revolves around deceit: he lies to judges and co-workers all the time. He even breaks promises to his young son. So imagine what would happen if he magically couldn’t lie anymore!
Pretty much any Hollywood actor could have played the lead in this. You could even see a mid-90s Mel Gibson making a fine go of this. But with Carrey on board, the makers of Liar Liar jumped at the opportunity to let him loose on this slapstick scene:
In his first starring role, Jim Carrey knocked it out of the park with this bawdy, catchphrase-spawning comedy. You understand the concept of the film from the title, but here’s the plot anyway. A private detective who specialises in recovering stolen and missing animals is charged with recovering the Miami Dolphins mascot. What he actually uncovers is a decade long revenge plot that involves Dan Marino and a really P.O.’d transsexual.
Remember when Borat came out and everyone at school or workplace was going around shrieking ‘my wiiiife’ in the Borat voice? Remember when Austin Powers came out and those same workplace jokers would shout ‘Yeah, Baby!’ at the slightest cue? Well, there was a time when everyone went around the school yard spouting ‘Alllllrighty then!’just like Jim Carrey did in that movie one time!
That’s how you know a film has captured the public’s (lack of) imagination.
As one half of The Farrelly Brothers’ super-stupid duo Carrey plays Lloyd Christmas, an idiotic limo driver who embarks on a cross-country road trip to return money to a woman he drove to the airport (Lauren Holly).
After Ace Ventura and The Mask, this was the third film of 1994 that essentially existed just to showcase his talents. And in case you’ve forgotten what his talents are, check this out:
5. Man on the Moon (1999)
In playing one of his heroes, 80s alt-comedy icon Andy Kaufman, Carrey threw himself into a role like never before. He went all method during production, responding only to the name ‘Andy’ and fabricating a feud with wrestler Jerry Lawler (just as Kaufman had). Carrey absolutely nails Kaufman’s comedy routines and shines in the film’s final scenes depicting the comic’s terminal battle with cancer.
Before Carrey won the part, stars mentioned in connection with this film included serious acting men like Ed Norton. In order to convince director Milos Forman he was perfect for the role, he went to the trouble of creating this audition reel in which he re-enacted Kaufman’s most famous bits:
Aspiring actors: this is how you make an audition tape.
Directed by Ben Stiller from an uncredited script by Judd Apatow, the thing most people remember about The Cable Guy is the fact that Jim Carrey got paid $20 dollars to star in it. At the time, it was most any actor had ever been paid for a role. With the albatross of that factoid hanging around its neck, the press was simply waiting to brand the film a failure.
Time, however, has been kind to this film. Jim Carrey plays the title character like a lisping relative of Max Cady from Cape Fear: a twisted loner who takes cable-customer Matthew Broderick’s kind platitudes as a cue to enter his life and destroy his relationships.
It might not have been worth 20 million, but Carrey’s performance deserves a spot on this list.
While Ace Ventura was Jim Carrey’s break-out role, this is the film that made him a Star. Playing Stanley Ipkiss, he’s a nice-guy banker transformed by the mask of Loki (yes, that Loki) into a green-faced, supernatural force of nature. This was the perfect vehicle for him, allowing him to show off his unique ability to play live-action cartoon character. Without Jim Carrey, it’s questionable if this film could ever have been made.
Truman Burbank lives the perfect Norman Rockwell-type existence. He lives in a perfect town with a great job, a cool best friend and a wife straight out of Good Housekeeping magazine. The thing he’s about to find out, though, is that his entire life has been a fiction and that he’s merely the lead character in the world’s most popular reality show.
Like Groundhog Day, this is film whose title has since fallen into the English lexicon to describe a situation that feels like a ruse. Director Peter Weir has to be given props for creating the world he lives in, but it’s really Carrey’s lead performance that carries the film. Through his eyes, we see him slowly realise the truth about his life; the film is so perfectly pitched in scenes and Carrey’s performance is wonderfully understated at times.
In our minds, there is no greater film of the 2000s than this magical romantic drama from writer Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry. Carrey plays Joel Barrish, who intercepts a letter in the mail one day, revealing that his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) is undergoing a procedure to erase him from her memory. Perhaps out of spite or maybe out of jealousy, he decides to undergo the very same procedure.
But no sooner than the erasing process starts, Joel realises he’s made a mistake and scrabbles through his sub-consciousness, desperately trying to find a way to hold on to the memory of his failed relationship.
In a reversal of expectations, Carrey plays a meek and subdued man while Kate Winslet –an actress associated with more serious roles—is tremendous as a quirky and “f—d up girl looking for her own piece of mind”.
Most people wouldn’t class this as ‘a Jim Carrey movie’ but his performance is an absolutely essential piece of this puzzle: he’s truly perfect as the soulful core of this perfectly soulful film. If you’ve never seen this movie, we cannot recommend it enough.
Did we miss out any of your favourite Jim Carrey films? Which ones deserved to be higher up on the list? Let us know in the comments board below.
Kick Ass 2 is now available at blinkbox