If high-energy slapstick with rambunctious, rubber-faced characters is the kind of comedy you crave, there is no better person to look to than Jim Carrey. The man behind icons like Ace Ventura, the title character of The Mask or Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber is a one-man army of non-stop explosive hilarity,
The actor is also never afraid to bring out the deeper side of his acting talent for more dramatic roles like The Truman Show. Jim Carrey’s versatile talent has resulted in some of the funniest comedies and most moving dramas of the last few decades… not to mention a few forgettably laughless bores and overblown messes.
Shall we take a look back at Jim Carrey’s fascinating career by analyzing our picks of his biggest hits and most sheepish misses among the Jim Carrey movies? Allllllllrighty then!
The Best Jim Carrey Movies
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
It seems pretty obvious to include the film that skyrocketed Jim Carrey to fame on his best list. Yet, by that criteria alone, it deserves it.
Jim Carrey is Ace Ventura, a private investigator with a knack for solving animal-related crimes and has a tremendously bizarre personality. When he is hired to find Snowflake, the kidnapped mascot for the Miami Dolphins, Ace’s unusual detective methods keep putting him in the hot seat, but still closer to solving the case than anyone else.
Following his successful run on In Living Color, this was the film that introduced audiences to Jim Carrey’s definitive, rubber-faced character traits. With Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Carrey led a one-man comedy revolution by doing what no actor had ever done before: talking through his butt.
The Mask (1994)
Boy, was 1994 a good year for Jim Carrey. First Ace Ventura: Pet Detective makes a box office killing, then Dumb and Dumber finds critical success later that year. That summer, however, there came a movie that defied expectations, solidified Carrey as a multi-layered comedic tour de force and earned him his first Golden Globe nomination.
The Mask, a much, much lighter interpretation of a Dark Horse comic book series, stars Jim Carrey as down-on-his-luck bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss, who gets a chance to turn his life around when he finds a mysterious mask. Putting it on turns him into living cartoon character with superhuman powers and a menacing disposition.
Never has Jim Carrey been so animated, versatile and out of control. He carries this inventive story with Oscar-nominated special effects to comedic gold of historical measure.
Liar Liar (1997)
Jim Carrey put his manic, explosive acting style to its most appropriate and uproarious use in this story of an average person (unusual for Carrey at the time) with a really weird problem.
In Liar Liar, Lawyer Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) makes a living out of stretching the truth to help get his clients out of trouble. Unfortunately, his dishonest habit often pours into his personal life, feeding into his strained relationship with his ex-wife and dwindling trust from his son, Max (Justin Cooper). When Max makes a birthday wish that Fletcher can not tell a lie for just one day, suddenly, he finds himself literally unable to tell a lie for the next 24 hours.
Watching Jim Carrey drive himself to the brink of insanity over his inability to lie is painfully hilarious, but watching him facing his demons and learning to be a better person and father is heartwarming. Liar Liar was one of Jim Carrey’s first roles that allowed him to show his sensitive side to wonderful effect.
The Truman Show (1998)
Jim Carrey’s next major role took far more advantage of the actor’s sensitive side than ever before. I would even consider Truman Burbank to be one of the most soulful and devastating performances of his career.
Truman (Jim Carrey) is an average, likeable, married insurance salesman who cannot seem to escape his mundane existence, let alone his picturesque hometown. Little does he know that his unexplained sense of entrapment is by design of the creator of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions, and he is the star.
Nominated for three Academy Awards, The Truman Show is a brilliant satire on the influence of “reality” television on its viewers and its subjects, tackling themes more relevant now than ever. As one of Jim Carrey’s first departures from his comedic reputation into a more dramatic setting, he knocks it out of the park.
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Jim Carrey re-teamed with the director of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Liar Liar for this ambitious romp of heavenly proportions. That is not me being incredulous. It is thematically appropriate.
After dissatisfied field reporter Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) loses his job, he blames God for his current losing streak. Thus, the Almighty One himself appears to Bruce, in the appropriately cast form of Morgan Freeman, to offer him His job and endow him with his powers. Thrilled, at first, by his omnipotence, Bruce soon realizes that being God is no easy feat.
Bruce Almighty succeeds at being more than a story of a man who fixes his problems by acquiring great power. It is a clever, heartfelt morality tale about a man who learns to rediscover his humanity by becoming larger than life. Not to mention, I laugh painfully hard at the scene where Jim Carrey makes Steve Carell speak gibberish every single time.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Maybe director Michel Gondry’s critically acclaimed 2004 dreamy fantasy does not come to mind when you think of Jim Carrey. Nevertheless, if you have seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it should come to mind when you think of stunningly unique and remarkably absorbing dramas.
Following a painful break-up with his girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet), Joel (Jim Carrey) undergoes a procedure to have her erased from his memory. It is not until he is knee-deep in the procedure when he realizes that he would rather keep the memories.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a visually hypnotic, unfathomably clever and ultimately heartbreaking masterwork. Few films before or since have come close to its level of originality and its authentic examination of the complexities of tragic romance is gripping.
This is Jim Carrey like you have never seen him before in a world like you could never imagine.
The Worst Jim Carrey Movies
Batman Forever (1995)
There is a lot of back-and-forth among Batman fans about what should be considered the shining example of the comic character as portrayed on film. Rarely does one agree which is best, but many agree that it is certainly not Joel Schumacher’s 1995 revamp of the franchise.
Batman Forever is the third installment in Warner Bros’. Batman franchise that started with Tim Burton’s interpretation. Following lackluster box office results and parent protests over 19922’s Batman Returns being “too dark,” the studio put Joel Schumacher in the director’s chair, Val Kilmer in the cowl and Jim Carrey in the villainous role of The Riddler, partnered with an unnecessarily unplugged Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face.
To be clear, the faults of Batman Forever are not to be put on Jim Carrey, even if his performance gets to be a little much sometimes. What this overblown, nonsensical, uncomfortably goofy toy commercial does to deserve a spot on this list is make a mockery out of its title character and all he stands for.
Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
The Farrelly Brothers brought out the lovably kooky side of Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. Somehow they must have felt that a good way to stretch their legs a bit was to bring out a more unlikeable and inappropriate side of him.
In Me, Myself & Irene, Jim Carrey plays Charlie, Rhode Island state trooper who has allowed a life’s worth of misfortune bottle up inside, resulting in a condition referred to as “advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage.” That’s the movie’s highly incorrect way of describing Charlie’s split personality, Hank, who gets him a whole heap of trouble involving a woman in need of protection named Irene (Renee Zellwegger).
Peter and Bobby Farrelly are behind some of the most celebrated comedies of the 1990s (Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary), but there is a reason this R-rated 2000 critical failure has been since forgotten. It is a lazy, laughless bore that lacks any much-needed heart and makes poor use of Jim Carrey’s talents in physical comedy.
The Number 23 (2007)
Perhaps director Joel Schumacher realized that Batman Forever was too lighthearted and decided that his next collaboration with Jim Carrey should be much darker. He forgot another Batman Forever mistake that The Number 23 could have also used: a story that makes sense.
Jim Carrey goes completely humorless for this thriller inspired by a real-life conspiracy theory that all bad things are somehow related to the number 23. Carrey plays a man who becomes obsessed with a disturbing book that seems to be imitating his life while the aforementioned number keeps popping up everywhere he turns.
The Number 23 is another example of Jim Carrey not being at fault for a film’s failure. He struggles to carry a plot that barely keeps your attention until it reaches its irritatingly unoriginal “twist” conclusion. If the conspiracy of tragedy related to the number 23 is true, this movie is some fine evidence.
Yes Man (2008)
Remember Liar Liar, in which Jim Carrey is unable to tell a lie? What if we basically remade that with one crucial twist.
Yes Man, from future Ant-Man director Peyton Reed, stars Jim Carrey as a guy who compulsively says no to everything, even things that sound pleasant. When he decides to make the decision to compulsively say yes to everything, even things that do not sound pleasant, his life begins to change for the better… until it doesn’t.
Yes Man has a wonderful, inspirational message that encourages living life to the fullest, but in the end, it defeats itself by admitting that saying yes can eventually prove problematic. It’s hard to decide what Jim Carrey and Peyton Reed wanted people to take this film. Laughter? Nah, it can’t be that.
Jim Carrey is one of our most beloved iconic comedians, but like any actor, his career is not without its missteps. However, The Number 23 or Me, Myself & Irene will not be what he's remembered for best. We will always think of him as a comedian with unprecedented energy and enthusiasm who taught that world that a man who talks with his butt actually can be pretty funny.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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