I finished a great little write-up on Jim Carrey in the Hollywood Reporter this morning. The cover story centres on his new Showtime series Kidding, exec-produced and directed by Michel Gondry, the French auteur and music-video whiz famous for Human Nature, The Science of Sleep and Be Kind, Rewind.
Kidding is the first project they’ve collaborated on together since the cult-classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a spellbinding love story with a twist of sci-fi make-believe, that explores a heartbroken soul doing his best to erase the memory of a former lover. Written by Charlie Kaufman, the king of meta-narratives, the film was a powerful exploration of heartache and loss, a palpable examination of pain.
As A.O. Scott, film critic for the New York Times put it; “The real achievement of this movie is that is connects all of these speculations to real recognizable human emotions. It suggests that the reason we think so much is that we feel so deeply.”
Carrey’s compulsion to comedy was an escape as much as it was fulfilling. Born and raised in Toronto, Carrey was a troubled kid from a troubled home, dropping out of high school at sixteen. Full of angst and fear-masked rage, he split his time between working security at his father’s factory and frequenting open-mic nights.
His drive and persistence impersonating celebrity talents scored him his first big break opening for Rodney Dangerfield at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. As his star began to rise, he did the unthinkable, tossing his shtick in the recycling bin. He began to take the stage with no routine, letting his whims dictate the show, dragging the audience along for the ride.
As longtime friend Judd Apatow comments; “Jim’s one of those people who comedians talk about like he’s in a different business than the rest of us. It’s like a normal rock band talking about what David Bowie is doing."
I grew up with Jim Carrey as he transitioned from the success of In Living Color to star in the breakout hit Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Having co-written the comedy with director Tom Shadyac, Carrey defied the critics (Siskel & Ebert violently hated the picture) catapulting the thirty-two year old to centre-stage. He would follow it up with two more knock-outs The Mask and Dumb & Dumber (my personal favourite).
While Carrey’s star grew brighter, it was The Cable Guy that would change the business for good. Produced by Apatow and helmed by Ben Stiller, the project launched the era of the mega-star after Carrey’s representation scored him a whopping $20 million paycheck — the first of its kind. Such a windfall would come to distort balance sheets as A-listers clamoured for a pay raise.
Carrey’s characters, much like his filmography, were all laced with a certain slapstick-silliness. Watching them was akin to pigging out on a tray of Tim Tams and spoiling your appetite before dinner. Looking back at these films now, it’s easy to see why Carrey shone so bright. He was a kindred spirit for children, yanking back the curtain on the adult world and helping us laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
Because let’s face it. Being a ‘responsible' adult is a real kick in the pants.