Jim Carrey's Best Movies
In this week's Total Recall, we count down the best-reviewed work of the Kick-Ass 2 star.
5. The Mask
One of the only films to ever net its star nominations from both the Golden Globes and the Golden Raspberries, 1994's The Mask presented filmgoers with something of an early 1990s trifecta: State of the art special effects, some marvelously over-the-top mugging from Jim Carrey, and a heaping helping of va-va-va-voom from instant star Cameron Diaz, who turned Carrey's nebbishy bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss into a leering Tex Avery wolf (and had roughly the same effect on male viewers). It's loud and far from subtle, but The Mask is also a lot of fun, not least because Carrey's impossibly limber performance ultimately proves to be as much of a special effect as anything else on the screen. Variety's Leonard Klady spoke for many of his peers when he summed it up as "adroitly directed, viscerally and visually dynamic and just plain fun."
Carrey's first brush with a Seuss-inspired adaptation didn't go so well, which may have scared a few viewers away from the CG-animated Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! -- but it was their loss, as attested by the mostly quite positive reviews that greeted the second film adaptation of this timeless tale of a good-hearted elephant who teaches his detractors that "a person's a person, no matter how small." As Horton's voice, Carrey did a better job of adding marquee value than bringing hidden layers of meaning to his character, and critics were quick to point out that Horton suffers most of the same difficulties that are bound to trouble a 90-minute film based on an illustrated short story, but for most, the movie's charms proved impossible to resist -- such as Brian Webster of the Apollo Guide, who happily reported that "taking on Seuss has proven a challenge for Hollywood, but a nice balance has been struck here between authenticity and new ideas. This one's a winner."
3. Liar Liar
Given that Carrey and Liar Liar director Tom Shadyac had previously collaborated on Ace Ventura, a person could have been forgiven for assuming that their reunion would rely on the same scatalogical humor and over-the-top physical comedy that the world's most famous pet detective rode to box-office riches...and they would have been right, to an extent, although Liar Liar features a much softer-edged version of Carrey's manic persona. It isn't his sharpest comedy, but at this point, even critics who had grown accustomed to hating Carrey's work found themselves surprisingly susceptible to his charms -- most notably Roger Ebert, who wrote "I am gradually developing a suspicion, or perhaps it is a fear, that Jim Carrey is growing on me." Filmgoers had no such fear, driving this family-friendly tale of a pathological fibber rendered unable to lie for a day to global grosses in excess of $300 million.
While he spent the early 1990s mugging it up for fans of perfectly obvious comedy, few people could have guessed that Jim Carrey would wind up sharing top billing with one of the premier actresses of her generation in a mindbending, critically beloved drama about the nature of love and memory -- but that's exactly what he did in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, going toe to toe with Kate Winslet in one of the most unusual and eye-catching films of the early aughts. Armed with a script co-written by Charlie Kaufman, director Michel Gondry riddles the film with stunning visual effects that, depending on what you want out of the movie, either deepen its metaphorical layers of meaning or are simply really cool to look at. It's admittedly too strange and/or chilly to appeal to everyone, but at its heart, the movie lives up to Mariko McDonald of Film Threat's assessment of it as "fresh, heartfelt and ultimately heartbreaking in its honest portrayal of a modern relationship."
Is it science fiction? A comedy? A drama? A psychiatric syndrome? Actually, 1998's The Truman Show is all of the above -- which has a lot to do with why it's not only the best-reviewed film of Jim Carrey's career, but a high-water mark for 1990s cinema in general. Carrey stars as Truman Burbank, the unwitting star of a wildly popular reality series engineered by a producer named Christof (played by Ed Harris), in which Truman's life -- complete with fake wife, fake friends, and a whole fake town -- is lapped up by eager audiences. It didn't net Carrey the Academy Award that many were anticipating, but The Truman Show has endured over the last 10 years, and predicted the overwhelming popularity of reality television in the years to come. In the words of Hollywood Report Card's Ross Anthony, "this is clearly one of the decade's cleverest, most original pictures."
In case you were wondering, here are Carrey's top 10 movies according RT users' scores:
1. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind -- 92%
2. The Truman Show -- 83%
3. Dumb and Dumber -- 78%
4. Man on the Moon -- 74%
5. Liar Liar -- 72%
6. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! -- 72%
7. Ace Ventura - When Nature Calls -- 71%
8. Yes Man -- 68%
9. The Mask -- 65%
10. Disney's A Christmas Carol -- 61%
Finally, here's the trailer for an early Carrey vehicle -- the made-for-TV comedy Rubberface: