Depending on who you ask, this doco is either incredibly indulgent or incredibly insightful. And that’s the surest sign you’ve got something unique here.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017) is a Netflix documentary directed by Chris Smith (American Movie, Yes Men). It stars and follows Jim Carrey as he reflects on his infamous and widely acclaimed turn as Andy Kaufman in the film Man on the Moon many years later.
A meditation on everything from Carrey’s career to method acting, Jim & Andy consists of little more than a couple of varying shots of Carrey being interviewed interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the film. Its a simple approach, which makes the fact its so intriguing all the more impressive. I have seen Man on the Moon recently – a rather conventional film about a very unconventional man (but that’s a review for another day) – and this documentary acts as a weird meta companion piece to that product so many years on.
The structure of the documentary, albeit simple, is incredibly effective in how it reflects back on the on-set turmoil of the film many years later. Carrey reminiscing is magnetic and he brings so much weird, inventive insight and energy into his manic decisions back then to show not only how he himself has changed over the years, but how he interprets his mindset at the time as completely distinct from his own. The footage as well is just as fantastic – while rough, it captures the weird and off-the-cuff microcosms of trying to function on that set in a light that makes it feel both repulsive and inviting at the same time. One blind spot that the film does have however is Kaufman himself – while we get a great sense of what Kaufman was to Carrey, an insight and investigation into the comedic genius/madman at the centre of it all would’ve been fantastic context to interpret Carrey’s subsequent performance and meltdown.
But overall, if you’re someone interested not only in films but also in the creative process, method acting or just simply Jim Carrey, this is a fascinating deep dive that cannot be skipped over. Netflix ain’t no Great Beyond so get streaming – Andy will thank you.
General Audiences: Recommended
Film Buffs: Must-see