Springing to mind immediately are the immortal words of Tommy Lee Jones, uttered in disgust to cast member Jim Carrey. “I will not sanction your buffoonery”. If Jones does not have to sanction it, then why must audiences? Comical stuff. But that is Batman Forever, a feature that cannot take itself seriously because director Joel Schumacher dared to touch close to the Adam West influences. Icarus he is not. Flying too close to that line means there is a rift between what Schumacher wants to try out as a comical feature and what newcomer to the Caped Crusader series Val Kilmer wants to do with a performance that, if handled right, could offer much depth.
Danny Wallace had a way with words when it came to Yes Man. His comedy book that inspired the Jim Carrey-led feature was an interesting bit of work because Wallace has the conviction of a man telling the truth. He did tell the truth. Showing evidence of lottery tickets that win him big bucks but are cancelled out by the gluttony of scratching off one more square and subsequently voiding it, travelling around the world on a whim and involving himself in scenarios that are well beyond what any dedicated socialite could hope to achieve. It is the freewheeling lifestyle so many dare not live but love to dream of that Wallace lived. It died in the hands of Carrey, but it lives on the page forever.
Despite a light touch from director Peter Weir, it is hard to forget how monumental a film The Truman Show is, not just for Jim Carrey, but for the narrative expectancy of comedians adapting themselves to other genres. Now, it is a commonplace event. To see some funny guy or gal from the stage manoeuvre them to pastures new, usually in the chase for awards glory or fulfilment of a larger role. That is The Truman Show for Carrey, and while Batman Forever surely helped, it is not the critical and beloved darling that can have such a monumental impact. The Truman Show has an inherent comedy underlining it, but a deep and quite horrifying message within.
As his world crashes around him, the fearful animosity and anger that Ron Burgundy transmitted through the airwaves of the 1970s comes to a close. His reign of terror is over. For a decade, movie-goers were able to enjoy a time of peace and tranquillity, a character based on Mort Crim would be laid to rest. Of course, no good thing can come to an end, nor, it seems, can a mediocre product. It will live forever, shuffling through the minds and hearts of somewhat nostalgic young adults. Their minds unphased by copious drinking and drug use, they are the perfect audience to experience Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. A hefty experience indeed, one whose running time exceeds that of many more rewarding experiences.
The comedy genre is one of the few strands of film that ages dreadfully. One little slip up, cultural appropriation or timely nod to a no longer relevant media personality and you’ve nearly crushed the entire build-up of the film. Some are rather timeless, like Chuck Norris’ brief cameo in Dodgeball, or Adam Sandler’s little role in Dirty Work. Nothing kills the pace of a film quite like a comedy that feels very much a product of its time. It can’t be all that bad though, especially since Me, Myself and Irene cements itself into the “Jim Carrey is a zany fun lover” brand of moviegoing. I couldn’t imagine a worse time if I’d tried.
Years ago, the release of Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond on Netflix inspired a whole new era of interest in both the work of late comedian Andy Kaufman and the biopic of his life, Man on the Moon. Carrey’s blending of reality and fiction with his method acting approach, coupled with the already engaging life of Kaufman, was a recipe for success. The final year of the 20th century saw such success in the form of Miloš Forman’s Man on the Moon, a biopic that documents the rise, fall and return of performance artist Andy Kaufman.