Jim Carrey. The man with thousand faces. He isn’t omnipresent and unrecognizable like Johnny Depp or Jared Leto or Sellers. He is a man with a single face, but capable of molding it into thousand others with contorting muscles that are absolutely inhuman. He’s also equally capable of adding equally twisting emotions with an effortless snap, making him an ever-exciting comedian and an even more terrific actor. Though he always displays his comedic instincts which sometimes do go against him, he handles every genre so carefully, it is nothing short of being miraculous. He is simply SMOKIN’!
We curated a list of top Jim Carrey movies, selected from his vast filmography. You can watch online some of these Jim Carrey movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu.
1. The Truman Show
No second thoughts about this one. ‘The Truman Show’ lent a new dimension to Carrey’s career, he was no longer a comedian who appeared in popcorn flicks and late night television shows but a deserving Golden Globe winner and one of the most versatile actors Hollywood has seen.
Directed by Peter Weir (‘Dead Poets Society’), Truman Show is a movie about a simple man unaware of the fact that his life is a reality show. Truman Burbank lives in a set up world,where everyone except him is part of a supporting cast employed to help progress the script, which unfortunately is Truman’s life. Pretty disturbing, right? The realization that your world isn’t real could drive people to madness or an existential crisis and frankly, it is a very serious matter to tackle. But the beauty of Weir’s work that is conveyed on-screen by Carrey’s genius is, it keeps getting stronger after this point, uplifting itself. In the beginning stages it feels like a normal Jim Carrey comedy with him pulling off some funny lines and faces, but as the story starts to unfold these very traits signify the brutality of his inner struggle between accepting realities. The boat scene where he brings physical helplessness and mental determination together on-screen, which is then rounded off by the discovery of his world and his famous line, is a proof of his terrific acting abilities that do not forget their comedic roots.
2. Man on the Moon
This is Jim Carrey’s magnum opus. The only reason why it sits in second place is because of the impact of ‘The Truman Show’. But, if you haven’t watched ‘Man on the Moon’ you sure as hell do not have a fair idea of Carrey’s potential. He usually is a beast roaring to be uncaged from the directors’ restrictions, but with perseverance he can pull off something so sublime, it would be a sin to end the movie and the character’s existence. He understands his characters so well, almost like a psychologist. He’s always indulged in comedic overacting and self supremacy, but only for characters that don’t have a backbone.
Here, Carrey subdues himself and leaves no traces to get into the boots of Andy Kaufman and voila! The result is one of the greatest performances in a biopic. Andy Kaufman was enigmatic, so enigmatic, the world never understood the man behind the façade of strange humor. Carrey’s portrayal gives a fitting tribute, it’s not an epiphany explaining the late comedian’s conscience but a panoramic view of Kaufman’s existence, a celebration. The actor has always been at his best in dark comedies, and his presence is the sole reason why this movie works so well, not mocking Kaufman’s ill-fated life but our inability to understand the man. He was awarded a second Golden Globe in a row for this impression of Kaufman.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ is considered as one of the greatest screenplays of all time, courtesy of Kaufman’s unparalleled genius. Along with ‘Her’ and ‘Upstream Color’ it has redefined romantic dramas with the inclusion of perfectly blended notions of science fiction. But it’s just not the script that drives it, the performances by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are one of their career bests and the chemistry onscreen is awe-inspiring. Winslet does overshadow Carrey and was deservedly nominated for an Academy Award, but her character was more central to the plot and not to forget even DiCaprio was a victim of her aura on two occasions.
Focusing on Carrey, this is a very different role, he has had romantic roles on screen but they were always light-hearted and infused with his brand of comedy. Joel Barish (his character), is an introvert who’s distant from society and prefers communicating instead of talking, completely opposite to Carrey’s own nature. He gets stuck in a centrifuge of memories trying to erase the only person he felt comfortable with, initiating an emotional roller-coaster that leaves you in tears and thoughts regarding the nature of relationships and their importance. A surprising tear-jerker from Jim Carrey.
4. I Love You Phillip Morris
This, to tell you the truth, is Jim Carrey’s most underrated performance this century. Jim Carrey is flawless as Steven Russell, one of the most decorated con artists in the history of the States. The movie is exceptional and criminally overlooked, the supporting act from Ewan McGregor is very un-Renton and he does a great job as an effeminate homosexual in love with Russell. Moving on to Carrey, he is as smooth as oil. He is simply effortless, is slick with his humor, constantly shining when the camera’s on him and has a hidden viscosity that is necessary for showing the volatile life of Russell. It does have elements of dark comedy, a trademark of the indie genre, that makes the quite tragic source material translucent, something like ‘Little Miss Sunshine’.
When I say Carrey’s put his heart and soul into the role, that’s quite literally what he’s done. His soul lingers and dances throughout the movie and that is exactly what was required. You do not want to see what Russell looked liked, his physical appearance means nothing, google the name and you will find 1000 results in a second. You want to know what made Russell do what he did and the consequences it had on him, rather than the world, and Carrey is 100% successful in this task. A fantastic performance!
5. The Mask
Until 1994, ‘The Mask’ was an ordinary comic book character, the brainchild of Mike Richardson after being inspired from The Joker and Dr Jekyll. It was only after Carrey’s portrayal of Stanley Ipkiss (alter ego of the mask), this character became a phenomenon and so did the man on screen. One of the earliest works to showcase the eccentricity and coruscation he is widely known for, The Mask was a superhit bagging $350 million and making Carrey the Midas of Comedies in the 90s.
He makes great use of his impressionistic background, with a collage of facial contortions which honestly cannot be bettered by anyone and his tonal variations are reminiscent of Robin Williams’s Genie. I have excluded ‘Ace Ventura’ from the list because of the wide range of behavioral similarities between it and The Mask. “Somebody stop me!” is a brilliant line from the movie helped by a breathtaking delivery from Jim Carrey, showing The Mask’s unstoppable nature and also a tongue-in-cheek dig at the plaguing condition of Stanley Ipkiss who’s trapped on the inside. Despite the technical definitions, Carrey does play two characters and he switches back and forth so effortlessly, which raises a question – What was difficult? Playing Ipkiss or The Mask. Knowing the actor, I guess you do have the answer to that question!
6. Liar Liar
Jim Carrey nails the lovable antihero every time he flaunts that sly wide grin. His antihero doesn’t possess Travis Bickle’s violence or Harry Callahan’s tightness or Tyler Durden’s charisma. No. His antihero is your normal guy who disregards the importance of relationships and fundamental morals, and eventually lands on the top of a multi-meter building.
In ‘Liar Liar’, he plays a divorced lawyer who’s an expert at lying (a brilliant dig at the profession). He loves his son but always ends up preferring his career and makes up for this by delivering false promises and excuses. He even goes to the extent of missing his son’s birthday, and instead sleeps with his boss to get himself promoted and this is exactly where everything goes helter skelter. A man who makes a living out of lies and altering facts in his favor, watches his life fall apart when his son douses him with truth serum. This heinous limitation clashes with an important hearing that could decide his future. The situation takes the shape of an outstanding performance from Carrey whose bellows are understood by nobody else. He does make a joke out of himself and wins the case, but realizes the consequences of his action when he relates himself with the accused and ends the hilarious courtroom drama with a cry of contempt which again highlights his smooth transition of moods.
7. A Series of Unfortunate Events
Carrey’s lesser known negative role, with ‘The Cable Guy’ being the most popular one, but I believe that has grown campy over time and he unfortunately does show glimpses of The Riddler from the universally panned ‘Batman Forever’. Count Carrey is different, he takes Olaf’s originally dry character and lends him part of his soul and the result is something rib ticklingly evil. Some would criticize his domineering presence over the character, but when you take an actor of his status and nature, it’s just normal for them to rub their own charm on the role.
His hideous portrayal is the first thing that’d come to your mind when you hear the word Olaf, not the pricky snowman or Neil Patrick Harris’s comparatively dull version. This is mainly due to Carrey’s improvisation skills, he’s numero uno when given the freedom and he never squanders it on mindless one liners or forced humor, he instead implements it on giving every alias a distinctive style. Olaf’s dubious smile, Stephano’s downright evil glares or Captain Sham’s swashbuckling charm, everything is so entertaining you do not lose interest in a single scene with him, which is enhanced by fantastic make-up (which was awarded by the Academy). Though the movie does stumble because of being too meta, it feels like a play with the villain intentionally overacting adhering to his theory of being a great actor, Carrey is phenomenal and my favorite moment alone is worth watching this!
8. Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas
More like Dr Seuss’s How Jim Carrey Stole The Show. Not much can be said about the film which is poor in all departments except the prosthetic make-up that unfortunately cannot withstand time and will suffer from campiness like ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. There are quite a lot of faults with the movie, and his career has been affected by the quality of some movies he’s done. Carrey is literally everywhere in the movie, he leaps as high as he can, grins as wide as his muscles would let him, contorts till the makeup doesn’t come off but that still falls short because of poor characterization, which is unusual for book adaptations. You’re supposed to sympathize with the Grinch and generate a feeling of belonging for him in the end, but that doesn’t happen because the movie takes its villain’s Villain title too seriously and uses its other characters as mere plot devices to revolve around Jim Carrey. Maybe the option of having a star in your movie doesn’t necessarily work in your favor everytime, if not structured properly the movie becomes too concerned with the star and not the plot.
But there’s another thing that doesn’t work well for this movie, while being concentrated on Carrey’s character it forgets that there is no Carrey, he is covered with heavy makeup that took 3 hours to be applied and it’s the grinch the audience have to spend time with. It’s another brilliant performance from the man but sadly doesn’t really make a big difference.
9. Bruce Almighty
Tom Shadyac collaborated with Carrey for the third time after the success of ‘Ace Ventura’ and ‘Liar Liar’ to make this interesting comedy revolving around a hapless unhappy reporter who blames God for all the misery in his life, and gets granted His powers for a week. Though Bruce Almighty does stumble at times and Carrey’s performance smells of deja-vu, it’s another improvisational performance that made him a household name.
The 21st century wasn’t really beneficial for him with his two movies criticized of being unsubstantial and neither did this, but it hit jackpot by breaking office records and became the 17th highest grossing comedy of all time. Jim Carrey is hilarious with the prevalent slapstick tone and gets few cards of his own on the table like his famous Clint Eastwood impression, he gives his best to be the miracle. Most of the other elements are similar to his previous performance in Shadyac’s Liar Liar and his efforts do get clouded by the film’s structural unoriginality. The film eventually gained a cult following, mainly due to Carrey and Freeman’s sassiness, with the latter being informally revered as God due to his usual composure and evergreen baritone voice.
10. A Christmas Carol
‘A Christmas Carol’. Dickens’s novella has been the subject of interest for many film adaptations throughout the course of history. Alastair Sims, George C. Scott, Michael Caine, Bill Murray and Patrick Stewart are some great actors who have donned the grumpiness of Ebenezer Scrooge on screen. But, as brilliant as they are, they still fall short of Carrey’s stratified portrayal in Robert Zemeckis’s (Forrest Gump) 3D animated feature. Though the film was slightly scorned for its extensively dark theme and setting, negating the intended purpose and the Christmas spirit of the source material, Carrey’s multiple role performance was lauded by critics and audiences, helping it cross the $300 million mark.
A mere voice-over wouldn’t have captured the true essence of his acting talent and unlike the legendary Mark Hamill (voiced The Joker), he has loads of it. A motion captured role is always a difficult task but playing 4 different characters is a daunting one and it is as usual executed perfectly by Jim Carrey, without showing the slightest hint of strain. He may not be a method actor like Bale or DDL, but the effort he puts in every film is astonishing and often goes unappreciated.
Favorite Moment : The door knob scene. There are quite a lot of close up scenes in the movie and though he may not possess the quality of Werner Krauss, he still radiates brilliance from the movement of the eyebrows to the wrinkled expressions.