Jim Carrey, an impeccable impressionist who gave us the privilege of seeing his spark on big screen turns 55 today. With a career spanning over three decades, he has brought himself immense appreciation and love from fans across the world. And my love for Carrey ignited with his portrayal of Stanley Ipkiss, Lloyd Christmas, and Bruce Nolan in The Mask, Dumb and Dumber and Bruce Almighty respectively. These films made me laugh till my stomach hurt. It was such a frenzy, a phenomenal experience.
However, it was his serious offerings in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind that won me over. Truman Burbank and Joel Barish were mesmerizing and absolutely relatable in their commonness. Carrey was not gurning, pratfalling or making his bum talk here, he was just delving into the skin of his characters.
Admitting to being a Jim Carrey fan is a lot different these days. Jim Carrey is no longer the goofy artist of slapstick comedy. Instead, he embraced transcendental meditation and turned into Hollywood’s most polarizing celebrity. A certain class of people still watch everything he has to offer or they simply leave the theatres after having his split-second glance on the screen. He is no longer a common feature of big-budget comedies and he appears lesser and lesser in movies. His star has considerably waned but his fandom is very much alive. Fans who are patient, who still persevere to watch films that will fully utilize his diverse talents. Until then these are the characters to seek solace into:
Joel Barish, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Though he will probably always be known as the man with the rubber face, for his manically flexible facial expressions, in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/, as Joel Barish, Carrey is able to skillfully walk that fine line between comedy and drama. Though most of the film is more drama than comedy, Carrey knew how to make the most of a dry sense of humor to lighten up some of the dark themes of this movie.
Truman Burbank, The Truman Show
In The Truman Show, Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a sweet, naive man who is also (unknowingly) the subject of a life-long reality show. The movie deals with the aftermath of Burbank’s discovery that his world and all of the people he’s ever known are fake—and his confrontation with the man who created the show of which Burbank is the star.
Fletcher Reede, Liar, Liar
It’s a far-fetched and over simplistic plot, sure. A kid makes a birthday wish, and all of a sudden his father is actually physically not able to lie anymore? But it’s not really the plot that makes this movie so fun to watch. It’s watching Carrey taking what happened to his character to such insane extremes.
Stanley Ipkiss/The Mask, The Mask
Unlike the milquetoast Stanley Ipkiss that he portrays, Jim Carrey doesn’t need a mask to engage in loud, obnoxious, cartoonish slapstick behavior. Carrey’s known for his slapstick humor and outlandish characters, but his work in The Mask is probably his best in that category. What’s more impressive is that that Carrey was able to switch back and forth between such diametrically opposed personalities seamlessly and still produce two very different characters.
Lloyd Christmas, Dumb and Dumber
Dumb characters don’t always have to be innocent and sweet. Sometimes along with their empty-headed comments, bad decisions, and delusional optimism, cruelty and sinister intentions can lurk within them once a button is pushed. For Jim Carrey’s character, that button is a love-interest whom he chases throughout the movie, regardless of his best friend’s well being. In fact, in a fit of jealousy Carrey plays Lloyd as having a crazed, bitter, and yet absurdly funny anger towards his friend once it’s revealed that the friend is going on a date with Lloyd’s crush.
Cable Guy, The Cable Guy
The genius of Carrey’s portrayal of the Cable Guy lies in his ability to make viewers both pity and loathe the character. Carrey’s a sensitive enough actor to show the Cable Guy’s vulnerabilities, especially his loneliness. But at the same time, much like he did with the Lloyd Christmas character in Dumb and Dumber, he was able to slowly let a more sinister, vindictive side of the Cable Guy character to come out.
Peter Appleton, The Majestic
Often highly praised as one of Carrey’s best dramatic roles, Carrey plays Peter Appleton, a Hollywood screenwriter who gets into an accident and loses all memory of who he is. A nearby small town takes him in, thinking that he is a long-lost member of their community, a war hero. He starts a new life as the person the townspeople mistake him to be and he ends up changing their lives as much as they change his.
Dr. Edward Nygma/Riddler, Batman Forever
Here’s a character you’re supposed to hate. He does evolve into the Riddler after all. But Carrey’s performance as Dr. Edward Nygma, the person that will later become the Riddler, a notorious villain in the Batman universe, is nuanced. Yes, he shows that Nygma has stalker-like obsessive tendencies when it comes to Bruce Wayne. But Carrey also portrays a sense of loneliness and a desperation to be accepted by the one person Nygma admires most. When watching Carrey’s performance it is no wonder that his work in this movie is often cited as one of the highlights of a Batman movie that otherwise got mixed reviews.