review for Man on the Moon on AllMovie

Man on the Moon (1999)
by Lucia Bozzola review

Another oddball biopic by the writers of Ed Wood (1994) and The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996), Man on the Moon (1999) attempts to take on the willfully unfathomable Andy Kaufman. Eschewing explanations of a man who blurred all lines between "self" and "performance," director Milos Forman and writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski opt instead to simply portray Kaufman's bizarre existence and premature death. Kaufman's singular mode of self-presentation, however, does not always comfortably fit Hollywood bio conventions; still, Jim Carrey's masterful portrayal of Kaufman (with the star reportedly fully immersed in character off as well as onscreen) makes his famous routines come to life, even as the "inner" Kaufman remains a mystery. Paul Giamatti provides strong support as Kaufman's friend, collaborator, and co-conspirator Bob Zmuda, as do Danny De Vito as Kaufman's manager and Courtney Love as Kaufman's girlfriend. Kaufman proved to be as much a niche attraction at the movies as he had been in life; Man on the Moon sputtered at the box office despite Carrey's presence. Though he won a Golden Globe, Carrey was passed over for an Oscar nomination, as he was the year before with The Truman Show.