B-E-A-Utiful. That's what this man's filmography is. Somehow his bonafide super-stardom eluded me.
I mean I obviously always knew he was a movie star. But, after some lengthy research of his catalogue, it seems to me that the man formally known as "James Carrey" was on another plane of success compared to Ferrell/Sandler/Most-People. Box office receipts aren't always the best indicator of, well, anything, but they do pretty accurately represent popularity.
Man was Jim Carrey popular. I'd argue he's popular for a reason: He's actually an amazing actor. More than just being funny, this man replicates human behavior unlike few humans ... ever. A huge difference I encountered making this list is that Carrey's dramatic stuff is arguably more memorable/worthwhile than his comedic.
Although it seems Jimbo has become a reclusive painter, in lieu of starring in films, it doesn't mean he doesn't have a career worth ranking. Carrey has endured what we call in the business *clears throat* "a decade of bad movies." And frankly he's not he only one to blame for that, but it's true. And because "Sonic the Hedgehog" was delayed until 2020, Carrey appears content to ride out the decade without a good starring role.
Now let's see how this cookie crumbles, folks.
"I Love You Phillip Morris" (2009) Metacritic Score: 65/100. Box Office: $2,315,100
Directed and Written by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa. Based on a book by Steven McVicker
Definitely the least popular movie mentioned on this list by a long shot. Many Carrey fans aren't even aware of it. It is not a laugh-riot, but it's a compelling-kinda-comedy movie in which Jim Carrey is in love with Obi-Wan and they're in prison. I chose to include "Phillip Morris" because this is actually the last good fiction film that Jim starred in. I hope to see a return to form someday.
"The Mask" (1994) Metacritic Score: 56/100. Box Office: $258,528,200
Directed by Charles Russell. Story by Michael Fallon and Mark Verheiden. Screenplay by Mike Werb.
I'll be honest I don't enjoy this movie. It creeps me out dude. Why doesn't he have ears? Who allowed that?? Regardless of my opinion this movie made a ton of money, got an even worse sequel, and confirmed my undying childhood crush on Cameron Diaz.
"The Cable Guy" (1996) Metacritic Score: 56/100. Box Office: $122,797,500
Directed by Ben Stiller. Written by Lou Holtz Jr.
"The Cable Guy" director Ben Stiller in March said he agrees that this movie was misunderstood and maligned upon release in a podcast with Bill Simmons. I don't think this movie is perfect but I am happy it exists. I think where the movie falls flat for me is in the dichotomy of Carrey and Broderick. Their lack of chemistry and the announced, massive salary for Carrey, sealed this movie's fate.
And now, the list.
1. "The Truman Show" (1998) Metacritic Score: 90/100. Box Office: $241,326,200
Directed by Peter Weir. Written by Andrew Niccol.
The word masterpiece is thrown around a lot — mostly by me — but this movie deserves that moniker. "The Truman Show" is heartfelt, hilarious, philosophical, and horrifying. A dystopian world where a man's life is all a fabrication. Truman lives a life designed by some omnipotent 'producer' and broadcast for the whole world to see. The film has a cast that would make any cinephile blush (and that would just be for Paul Giamatti).
It is flabbergasting to see how much money this movie made. That speaks directly to the charisma and gravitas Carrey had with the general public. If this were made today it would have a budget of 57 cents and would make the rounds at festivals, it wouldn't be a massively popular studio production.
What was so scary in this movie was the erosion of privacy (I repeat, erosion) and how it happens under the nose of society. "Truman" should have been a warning to us all; instead with the inception of "reality TV" (and of course social media) we not only ignored the complete atrophy of privacy in society — we destroyed it ourselves.
Bonus points for Ed Harris giving an incredible performance as the self-obsessed and wonderfully unnerving Christof. I wish I could give him the Supporting Actor Oscar he deserved, personally.
2. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004) Metacritic Score: 89/100. Box Office: $49,910,900
Directed & Screenplay Written by Charlie Kaufman. Story by Pieree Bismuth, Michel Gondry, & Charlie Kaufman.
What is it about love and loss that makes us want to remember and forget. The cruel duality of remembering a fond time with someone you're no longer with. ESOTSM makes me ponder what it is to be human, how real are memories actually, and why aren't humans better equipped to handle loving and leaving.
The premise of the film is inherently depressing to me, but it makes this no less watchable. Jim Carrey has an electric connection with Kate Winslet that makes you really buy in to whatever the hell is happening on screen at any given moment.
Carrey plays an aching, ignorant, sort of self-loathing romantic — which is such a fun combination for him. I watch this movie when I'm feeling the same way. It's hard to recommend something you love to people when you know it will only make them hurt. Like giving ice cream to my lactose intolerant friend, Dave.
3. "Liar Liar" (1997) Metacritic Score: 70/100. Box Office: $356,102,300
When someone walks in on me making a Top 15 list.
Directed by Tom Shadyac. Written by Paul Guay, Stephen Mazur.
This is Jim Carrey's funniest movie ever and it's the best rendition of his body not being in his control schtick. It hits all the notes of a 90s studio comedy but with such grace it doesn't feel drenched in cliche. If you're unfamiliar: a boy wishes that his habitual liar, I mean lawyer, of a father had no ability to lie anymore.
This is a great example of Carrey's talent's coalescing into a great scene. He uses his facial expression brilliantly, has a trademark funny speech pattern, and his body feels like something he's not in control of. Tom Shadyac is a frequent collaborator that you will see on this list and I'm not sure there is ever an obvious 'Shadyac-style,' but this is the best of their work together.
Bonus/Negative bonus points (depending on your opinion of "Family Guy") for this animated homage.
4. "Dumb and Dumber" Metacritic Score: 41/100. Box Office: $267,755,400
Directed by The Farrelly Brothers. Written by The Farrelly Brothers & Bennett Yellin.
Joke-for-joke this movie holds up. "Dumb and Dumber" is tainted by the attempt at creating a franchise out of this — um, universe, I guess? This movie is referenced all the time in life, but I feel it unjustly is boiled down to the most annoying sound in the world. Which is funny ... but also really annoying.
Bonus points for just involving Jeff Daniels, dude represents Michigan so well.
5. "Bruce Almighty" (2003) Metacritic Score: 46/100. Box Office: $362,834,400
Directed by Tom Shadyac. Written by Steve Oedekerk and Steve Koren & Mark O'Keefe.
Flat out — I've never laughed harder in a movie theater than I did at this scene in "Bruce Almighty." I was genuinely in hysterics. I saw it at the Court Street Theater in Saginaw, MI weeks after the movie had come out. I was with my father and my Tía Selena; we were the only people watching and we were practically begging the projectionist to rewind the film. I'll never forget that day, or this movie. If the movie matched this particular sequence more often we may be talking about the funniest thing ever made. Carrey's chemistry with Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman is palpable.
Bonus points for giving us a second iconic shot of Jim Carrey walking on water.
6. "Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond" (2017) Metacritic Score: 77/100. Box Office: N/A
Directed by Chris Smith.
The newest film on this list is streaming on Netflix right now!You don't need to see "Man on the Moon" to enjoy this, but it would help. I don't think I've ever liked a documentary about making a specific movie more than the source material, but here I am. I got lost in the enigma of Jim Carrey. The question I always toss around in my mind is: Was the interview just another performance by Andy percolating to the top of Carrey's psyche and bubbling out? Let me know what you think.
Bonus points for unseen Danny DeVito footage.
7. "Man on the Moon" (1999) Metacritic Score: 58/100. Box Office: $59,803,20
Directed by Milos Forman. Written by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski.
I think Jim Carrey was so hyperfocused on his performance that he gives an All-Timer. He should have won the Oscar (though he did win his second straight Golden Globe award after "The Truman Show"). But what it took from Carrey was probably not personally worth it. What creative energy Carrey sapped from the set, cast, and crew to deliver the performance possibly tanked the film. It explores what kind of performance art it would take to replicate the greatest performance artist of the 20th century.
Bonus points always for Danny DeVito.
8. "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" (1995) Metacritic Score: 45/100. Box Office: $224,335,400
Directed & Written by Steve Oedekerk.
Normally sequels are worse than the first movie. Usually comedy sequels straight up suck. "When Nature Calls" does not fall into either of those categories. Instead, this movie joins the ranks of "22 Jump Street" and "The Godfather: Part II" as comedies that are better than the original. It gave us this legendary bit.
9. "Horton Hears a Who!" (2008) Metacritic: 71/100. Box Office: $193,915,000
Directed by Jimmy Hayward & Steve Martino. Written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio (based on book by Dr. Suess).
Hot Take Incoming: "Horton Hears a Who!" is a better movie than "The Grinch." I said it, and gosh dang did it need saying. Clearly, however, it's not a more iconic performance. And this list isn't solely focused on Carrey alone. I find myself having to defend animated movies as "real" all the time, and I imagine I'll catch some heat for this one.
Bonus points for Jesse McCartney's rendition of REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling" for like 10 seconds.
10. "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" (2004) Metacritic Score: 62/100. Box Office: $170,377,500
I love this shot dude.
Directed by Brad Silberling. Written by Robert Gordon (based on works by Daniel Handler).
I'll start by saying I'm not a fan of the source material and never read the books, but I'm sure that this isn't the most accurate depiction of Count Olaf possible. This movie clearly serves as a purpose: let Jim Carrey do Jim Carrey things. If you do that in the early oughts, people will come. This kids film had a darker tone that I didn't appreciate as a kid, but I do now.
11. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000) Metacritic Score: 46/100. Box Office: $433,442,500
People reacting to this movie being ranked at 11.
Directed by Ron Howard. Written by Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman (based on book by Dr. Suess).
I'm not sure if you read the book ... at all ... even a little bit. But the Grinch comes off a bit differently. I don't mind Carrey taking liberties for this live action rendition, in fact he creates a character of his own that just happens to have a dog with the same name as the original. In my mind, this movie definitely ranks higher than "The Cat in the Hat" for what it's worth.
12. "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" (1994) Metacritic Score: 37/100. Box Office: $155,664,800
How does this movie fit in this list at 12?
Directed by Tom Shadyac. Written by Jack Bernstein, Tom Shadyac, & Jim Carrey.
Launching Jim Carrey into rarefied Hollywood smog is what this film did. He proved himself at the box office and production for the sequel began right away. Ace is probably Carrey's most iconic character, and this is where it all began. This is also the lowest Meatcritic score for movie on this list.
13. "Yes Man" (2008) Metacritic Score: 46/100. Box Office: $119,549,700
Directed by Peyton Reed. Written by Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul, & Andrew Mogel (based on book by Danny Wallace).
I really liked this movie. "Yes Man" is utterly watchable. It's the last time Carrey was in good form. It has a solid supporting cast including a young Bradley Cooper, Zooey Deschanel, and freaking Murray from "Flight of the Conchords," Rhys Darby! While it's not a magic wish that propels Jim Carrey to say yes, his body language reads like it. Sometimes it comes off effortlessly hilarious, other times it holds the movie back (as in back in 1997). But it makes me sad, too. I miss Jim.
14. "Batman Forever" (1995) Metacritic Score: 51/100. Box Office: $381,177,100
Directed by Joel Schumacher. Written by Lee & Janet Scott Batchler and Akiva Goldsman.
This movie caused me great consternation. I don't believe the movie has held up all that well. With the superhero film craze of today it's easy to pawn off all non "Dark Knight" Batman movies as bad. "Batman Forever" doesn't do much in the way of arguing that point, but it is a great representation of superhero campy-ness. Audiences used to enjoy a (I say this lightly, because I do believe it's misleading) more slapstick in superhero movies. They yearned for the Adam West like innocence in the sub-genre. Carrey gives a great take on Edward Nigma, aka the Riddler. He has traces of camp while also very much still being Jim Carrey, to the chagrin of some Batman fans. This may be a controversial pick, but it does enough to crack the Top 15.
Side note(s): I'm not sure what's weirder: the fact that "Batman Forever" was nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar or that Schumacher directed "The Number 23" with Jim Carrey, a movie that has grown a cult following but was widely panned on release (and, oddly enough, has no listed Metacritic score on IMDB).
Bonus points for "Batman Forever" gifting us this wonderful Seal song forever.
15. "Me, Myself & Irene" (2000) Metacritic Score: 49/100. Box Office: $151,399,80
Directed by The Farrelly Brothers. Written by The Farrelly Brothers & Mike Cerrone.
A common theme for number 15's on these lists is that *obviously* they aren't great. But they succeed at something, in some way. This movie is second rate Farrelly Brothers. Also, the whole personality switching thing as a plot device is a really polarizing thing in media (just look at the outrage "Split" caused). All of that to say at the turn of the century Jim Carrey was still money at the box office and was using this movie like a tune up fight. Just staying in shape and flexing the comedic muscles.
Oh! And in case I don't see you: Good afternoon, good evening, and good night.
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