I wouldn't say I'm an expert on Miloš Forman, the Czech filmmaker who died last month. I can remember seeing Taking Off a long time ago and liking it, found Amadeus to be better than I expected, and loved One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. But that's only three movies out of an entire career, so I thought to watch another of his movies, Man on the Moon.
I came to this without any real opinion of Jim Carrey, or rather, I found him to be a fine actor at times but was not a fan of many/most/all of his comedies. I looked forward to seeing him here. As for Andy Kaufman, I experienced him the way many in the audience did, as a delightful oddball with an often-cerebral notion of what comedy could be. Also like most of us, I remembered him mainly for his Elvis impersonation and his Mighty Mouse routine, along with his rassling career. The video I've attached to this post offers an interesting comparison of Kaufman and Carrey-as-Kaufman, one that I don't think does Carrey any favors. Carrey is clearly trying to submerge himself in the character of Kaufman, and he gets credit for an energetic attempt. But watch the real Kaufman in the video ... what he is doing is often outrageous, always odd, but many times Kaufman himself is far from frantic. Carrey overdoes the bug eyes, which has the effect of making Kaufman seem a bit crazy. The real Kaufman comes across more as a thoughtful eccentric, and I don't think crazy is necessarily the best way to play him.
On the other hand, there's Courtney Love. Whenever she was on the screen, I couldn't keep my eyes off of her. For all of her overstated persona as a rock star, Love can be a subtle actress, which stands out in Man on the Moon in comparison with Carrey's near-mugging. For me, she walks off with the picture.
As biopics go, Man on the Moon is OK. I'm just not a big fan of biopics.