(Photo by Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)
Earth Girls Are Easy sounds like one of those debased projects that occur either at the beginning of a career, out of naivete, or at the end of one, out of desperation. But we doubt Jim Carrey looks back on the 1988 comedy with embarassment, and probably not his co-stars Jeff Goldblum, Damon Wayans, and Geena Davis either. It’s silly, it’s Fresh, and it helped Carrey land In Living Color. And that show helped make the man who would talk out of his ass on the big screen, to the delight of millions. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective made over $100 million, and that was the lowest-grossing of Carrey’s comedies that year, behind Dumb & Dumber and The Mask.
After that breakout in 1994, Carrey was locked and loaded to be the manic centerpiece of 1995’s summer blockbuster event: Playing the Riddler in Batman Forever. The comic book caper was the highest-grossing movie of the year… the same couldn’t be said about 1996’s The Cable Guy, Carrey’s first box office bomb. Fret not: He sprung back in 1997 with Liar Liar, and The Truman Show in 1998.
Part of Carrey’s early enduring quality was a subtle sensitivity hiding beneath the flailing limbs and facial contortions, and the sudden pathos that could erupt from his oddball characters. Carrey began displaying this knack for drama more nakedly in serious projects like Man on the Moon, where he transformed into his comedy idol Andy Kaufman, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the most memorably melancholic romance of recent decades. Of course, Carrey continued to crowd-please with slapstick like Fun With Dick and Jane, Bruce Almighty, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Yes Man.
After a quiet decade pursuing personal hobbies and middling movie work, Carrey spin-dashed into the 2020s with Sonic the Hedgehog, playing iconic villain Dr. Robotnik (see where it landed on the video game movies list). Today, though, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Cable Guy, which rebounded from its lowly box office performance to become a cult classic. See where it ranks in his filmography as we rank Jim Carrey movies by Tomatometer!
He earned his first real success by tapping into America’s unquenchable thirst for broad slapstick comedy, but Jim Carrey always had bigger ambitions than anyone could have guessed by watching Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and he’s proven it repeatedly by choosing projects beyond the scope of Farrelly-friendly laffers. His reach has occasionally exceeded his grasp, but few careers can boast a range extending from Dumb and Dumber to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And with his appearance as the Colonel in Kick-Ass 2 bowing this weekend, we decided there was no time like the present to take a look at the best-reviewed films of Jim Carrey’s career!
For most of the 1980s and 1990s, Andy Kaufman was a little-remembered comic, mostly known for his portrayal of dimwitted immigrant mechanic Latka Gravas on the ABC sitcom Taxi — but the late 1990s witnessed a resurgence in interest surrounding Kaufman’s often pioneering work, thanks to a pair of biographies, a handful of DVD reissues, and the R.E.M.-referencing Man on the Moon. Carrey continued his 1990s run of prestige pictures with Moon, subsuming himself so completely into the role of the inscrutable Kaufman that most critics were willing to forgive the movie’s fuzzy, weightless middle, its fudging of certain facts, and a few fumble-fingered attempts at going meta. Although many scribes were quick to point out the movie’s flaws — and Kaufman’s all-too-apparent flaws as a protagonist — praise for Moon‘s star was all but universal, typified by Jeffrey M. Anderson of Combustible Celluloid, who applauded, “Carrey gets inside Kaufman’s skin.”
Sea Bass! Part of Carrey’s 1994 trilogy of broad-as-a-barn, occasionally revolting comedies, Dumb and Dumber paired the rising star with Jeff Daniels as a couple of well-meaning dimwits who stumble into a cross-country adventure involving Lauren Holly and a briefcase full of cash. While not quite the across-the-board smash that There’s Something About Mary turned out to be a few years later, Dumb and Dumber still managed to include enough charm between the goofy jokes to reach 64 percent on the Tomatometer. It didn’t win any points for smarts, obviously, but that was beside the point — as recognized by writers such as Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, who noted that “Carrey…does literal-minded doofdom with peerless enthusiasm.”
You might be surprised to find this late-night cable mainstay on a list that includes cult favorites like The Cable Guy and box-office champs like Bruce Almighty, but the Tomatometer does not lie, and critics cheered loudly enough to send this 1989 cult classic all the way up to 65 percent. Although quite a few scribes sniffed at at Earth Girls are Easy‘s low ambitions and thick layer of cheese, a greater number were able to grin and bear Julien Temple’s brightly colored send-up of hokey sci-fi and 1980s life in the San Fernando Valley. As a furry red alien named Wiploc, Carrey received one of his first major chunks of screen time here, and although his efforts were rewarded with minimal box-office success, he did get to trade lines with Geena Davis and Julie Brown — and help earn some delightfully backhanded praise from the likes of Luke Y. Thompson of the New Times, who declared the film to be “stupid but wonderful.”
Between Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2004 and the end of the decade, Jim Carrey had a pretty rough go of it, vacillating between rehashed broad comedies like Yes Man and ill-advised dramatic fare like The Number 23 — and the best live-action project he booked during that span, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s I Love You Phillip Morris, ended up gathering dust in the studio vaults for years. Given that it dramatizes the real-life, stranger-than-fiction love affair between a cop-turned-con man (Carrey) and his charismatic prison cellmate (Ewan McGregor), it’s unsurprising (but still disappointing) that Morris would have a hard time finding a spot on the release schedule — and the minimal box office returns generated by its limited theatrical run seemed to reinforce Hollywood’s belief that audiences weren’t ready for a darkly comic dramedy about a homosexual love affair. Morris resonated with most critics, however — particularly Carrey’s work, lauded by Stephen Holden of the New York Times when he wrote, “With his manic glare, ferociously eager smile, hyperkinetic body language and talent for instant self-transformation, Mr. Carrey has rarely been more charismatic on the screen.”
It was a bit of a non-starter at the box office, failing to recoup its $140 million budget with its domestic receipts, but few roles in the history of children’s fiction have ever been better-suited to an actor than the villainous master of disguise known as Count Olaf and his on-screen counterpart, Jim Carrey. Although A Series of Unfortunate Events drew the ire of some fans of the books for softening their frequently nasty edges, it remains a visual feast, as well as a tour de force for Carrey, who was able to take advantage of his manic energy in a way not seen since his mid 1990s heyday. A sequel remains in development limbo, but don’t let Hollywood’s cold feet keep you from giving Unfortunate a rental — as the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Forrest Hartman put it, “not many children’s movies center on recently orphaned children delivered to the home of a homicidal thespian. Then again, not many children’s movies are as good as this one.”
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.”
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.”
This weekend, multiplexes hope to cram in lots of moviegoers thanks to a wide selection of new films. Six movies open or expand nationally on Friday making for what will be one of the most competitive weekends of the holiday season.
Adult audiences looking for a laugh can see Will Ferrell in a more mature role in "Stranger Than Fiction." The female vote will be split with daughters going for a scare with Sarah Michelle Gellar in "The Return" while their mothers can spend the evening with Russell Crowe in the romantic comedy "A Good Year." The action flick "Harsh Times" rounds out the menu of new releases targeting young men.
In addition, the cross-continent drama "Babel" expands across the country after two weeks of stellar results in limited release. Despite all the new opponents entering the field, reigning box office incumbent "Borat" will go fully national in an attempt to be re-elected for a second term as commander-in-chief. Rarely does a November weekend have so many new offerings. The fight for screens and moviegoer attention will be fierce. Not every film will survive so some casualties will be left behind on the battlefield by the end of the frame.
After battling Sacha Baron Cohen with race cars last summer in "Talladega Nights," Will Ferrell once again takes on the British comedian at the box office with "Stranger Than Fiction" which will try to stop the seemingly unstoppable "Borat" machine. In the PG-13 film, the funnyman plays an agent with the IRS who begins to hear a voice narrating his life and his every move. Emma Thompson provides the voice while Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah co-star. Directed by Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland," "Monster’s Ball"), "Stranger" takes an A-list comedian and puts him in a more mature and serious film that still has some comedic elements. That means that the 14-year-old boys who powered "Talladega Nights" to a $47M opening will take a pass this time around.
When Jim Carrey went arthouse, he saw "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" open to $8.2M with a $6,042 average and "Man on the Moon" bow to $7.5M with a $3,615 average. Adam Sandler‘s "Spanglish" debuted to $8.8M and a $3,617 average. It can often be a tough sell to take a comedian known mostly for mainstream comedies and put him into a more mature film, even if it still has laughs. "Stranger Than Fiction" might find it difficult to pull in teens and young adults, but mature adults will have interest. Reviews have been generally good and the concept makes the film stand out in the current marketplace. Competition for adults will come from both "Babel" and "A Good Year" while "Borat" will continue to steal away millions of moviegoers looking for a good laugh. Launching in 2,264 theaters, "Stranger Than Fiction" might open with roughly $16M.
Halloween may have passed but those in search of a scare, and were disappointed that "The Grudge 2" did not have Sarah Michelle Gellar in a full role, will have a chance to see their favorite vampire slayer in the new supernatural thriller "The Return." With a commercially friendly PG-13 rating, the spookfest finds Gellar playing a young businesswoman guided by mysterious forces to avenge her own death from a previous life. In the horror genre, Gellar is a bonafide star and can pull in teens and young adults. But with so many fright sequels cramming into theaters recently during the pre-pumpkin period, many genre fans might be all scared out by now. Luckily for "The Return," competition will not be too fierce as nothing else is exciting teenage girls at the moment. The marketing push has been decent, but in many ways it does not stand out as something special or unique that is worth seeing right away. Opening in 1,986 theaters, "The Return" might gross around $8M over the weekend.
Russell Crowe reteams with his "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott for a trip to a new genre (romantic comedy) in "A Good Year." The PG-13 film finds the former Maximus playing a financial guru who finds women and wine at a french vineyard he inherits. Talk about a tough sell. On paper, the Scott-Crowe combo is box office gold, only they chose to try out a type of film that will repel fans who spent $187.7M on the 2000 Best Picture Oscar winner. Plus the Fox release has no notable female star to boost its potential. Add to that the bad buzz that "Year" received at the Toronto Film Festival plus the mostly negative reviews from critics, and it surely will have its work cut out for it. Could this be "All the King’s Men" all over again?
"A Good Year" stands as that rare film which reunites an Oscar-caliber director with an Oscar-winning actor that earns bad reviews and lukewarm studio support. Crowe’s last film "Cinderella Man" bowed to $18.3M from 2,812 theaters for a $6,515 average in June of last year and was considered an underperformer. The actor’s latest picture lacks the Ron Howard film’s strong critical support, added starpower from Renee Zellweger, and sizable push from Universal. "A Good Year" should play mostly to adult female audiences as the male appeal is low. That makes "Babel" and "Stranger Than Fiction," which have better cross-gender appeal, direct competitors this weekend for mature couples. Opening in 2,066 theaters, "A Good Year" could find itself with about $8M this weekend and a rough road ahead.
Still in the top ten with "The Prestige," Christian Bale comes back for double duty in the new action thriller "Harsh Times" from MGM. The R-rated film from the writer of "Training Day" finds the Caped Crusader playing an ex-Army Ranger enlisting with the LAPD who still has ties into the crime world in South Central. "Harsh" will play to urban audiences and should skew male but will find the marketplace difficult to navigate with bigger titles like "Borat" and "Saw III" already doing strong business with that demo. Bale lacks the drawing power of Denzel Washington in his Oscar-winning role in "Training Day" so the grosses should not be in the same ballpark. A moderate national release in over 900 theaters will also limit the potential. "Harsh Times" will have to fight hard in order to crack the top ten and could finish the frame with around $3M.
Among holdovers, all eyes will be on "Borat" this weekend. Can the Kazakh superstar spend another weekend at number one? Following its robust $26.5M bow from 837 theaters, the Sacha Baron Cohen starrer has delivered solid midweek results grossing over $3M on both Monday and Tuesday. Now, Fox will expand the raunchy comedy on Friday by more than tripling the run to 2,565 theaters allowing everyone to have easy access to the most-talked-about film of the season. Word-of-mouth has been encouraging and "Borat" might even reach the Holy Grail of the box office – repeat business.
Last weekend’s potent average of $31,607 will certainly come crashing down since the film will be in more theaters and most of the hardcore fans have now already seen it. But the buzz is still hot and the Uzbekistan-hating TV journalist is now trying to crossover into new audience segments not initially sold on the concept last week. With the frame’s new films all a mixed bag without a surefire smash among them, "Borat" looks ready to retain its hold on the number one spot. A weekend gross of around $24M could result giving Fox a stellar $62M in only ten days.
Another cross-cultural film with a five-letter title starting with a B expanding over the weekend is "Babel" starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Paramount Vantage has attracted scorching results in limited release for two weeks and is now hoping that moviegoers nationwide are ready for the acclaimed drama. Last weekend, "Babel" popped into the Top 20 with a stellar $26,264 average from 35 locations. On Friday, the R-rated film expands to over 1,200 sites and should continue to play to an upscale adult audience.
"Babel" is likely to play to the same crowd that powered last December’s "Syriana" to a $11.7M bow from 1,752 theaters for a $6,699 average. That film had more theaters and a star, George Clooney, who is despised by many American moviegoers for his political beliefs. On the other hand, Pitt can cheat on his wife and father a baby with another woman, and the public still can’t get enough of him. That’s pure starpower. But "Babel" is not the type of commercial role that Pitt attracts large crowds to. Still, the average should be solid so given its level of distribution, "Babel" could gross about $10M this weekend.
Disney and Paramount went head to head last weekend with competing kidpics and split the family vote in half pretty evenly. "Flushed Away" is getting better word-of-mouth and is offering audiences something new so its decline might be smaller than that of "The Santa Clause 3." Kid movies opening in early November typically have good legs and enjoy strong second weekend holds. Sophomore drops for recent films of the genre include 21% for last year’s "Chicken Little," 29% for 2004’s "The Incredibles," 15% for 2003’s "Elf," and 15% for 2002’s "The Santa Clause 2." This weekend, "Clause 3" might drop by 25% and "Flushed" could wash away 20% leaving each with a three-day tally in the neighborhood of $15M. That would push ten-day cumes to roughly $39M a piece for the Mouse House pic and the rat toon.
LAST YEAR: Disney’s poultry toon "Chicken Little" stayed at number one for a second weekend with an impressive $31.7M. Three new releases followed within a tight range. Sony’s big-budget kidpic "Zathura" bowed in second with $13.4M on its way to a disappointing $28.2M. Jennifer Aniston was close behind with her thriller "Derailed" which opened to $12.2M. The Weinstein Co. release went on to gross a moderate $36M. Paramount’s urban action pic "Get Rich or Die Tryin’" debuted in fourth place with a $12M weekend and $17.7M over five days. The 50 Cent starrer finished its run with $31M. Rounding out the top five was the military drama "Jarhead" which tumbled 58% to $11.7M. Premiering to sensational results was the period film "Pride & Prejudice" which grossed $2.9M from only 215 theaters for a sizzling $13,326 average. The Focus release went on to become an awards contender and took in $38.4M making it the top-grossing pic among the weekend’s new films.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Al Pacino‘s latest is a fairly slick-looking thriller called "88 Minutes" that, for some reason or another, has been sitting on a shelf at Universal for quite some time. Pacino plays a forensic psychiatrist who’s told he only has 88 minutes to live, so he gets pretty worried.
The director is Jon Avnet ("Fried Green Tomatoes"), the screenwriter is Gary Scott Thompson ("The Fast and the Furious"), and the supporting cast is solid: Alicia Witt, Neal McDonough, Amy Brenneman, Deborah Kara Unger, Leelee Sobieski, and William Forsythe.
Check out the trailer right here.
Now all we need is a release date.
Popular actor John Cusack has signed on to star in the movie adaptation of Stephen King‘s short story "1408," says Variety. The story, which is available on King’s "Everything’s Eventual" compilation, will be adapted by the screenwriting team of Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski.
Penned by "The People vs. Larry Flynt" scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, pic centers on a debunker of paranormal occurrences who encounters real terror when he checks into notorious Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel.
Pic will lense this summer. Location is yet to be determined.
"This film is so much a one-man show," Hafstrom told Daily Variety. "It’s quite a contained drama. It is a horror film if you want to put a label on it, but the way I see it, it’s much more an inner-journey of this character."
The Italian-American actor with droopy eyes who stood over 6’5" tall was best known for playing ghoulish-looking characters, most recently appearing in films like "Baadasssss!," "Tomorrow Never Dies," and "Death to Smoochy." He is known for acting in numerous Milos Forman films, including "Man on the Moon," "The People vs. Larry Flynt," "Valmont," "Amadeus," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," and "Taking Off." In recent years, Schiavelli focused his career on Italian film and theater projects and lived in Polizzi Generosa, Sicily.
In addition to making an indelible mark on film and television audiences with his memorably macabre visage, Schiavelli was chosen in 1997 by Vanity Fair as one of America’s best character actors. The New York-born thespian attended acting school at NYU, was fluent in Sicilian, and was awarded the James Beard Journalism Award in 2001 for his work as a food writer, with articles published in magazines and newspapers.
Schiavelli’s other notable film appearances include "Ghost," "Batman Returns," "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai," and "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." His over 50 television credits include roles on "Starsky and Hutch," "Taxi," "Cagney & Lacey," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
According to Variety, "Story revolves around a man specializing in debunking paranormal occurrences who meets his match when he checks into the notorious room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. There, he encounters true terror.
The short story appeared in the King audio book "Blood and Smoke" and later in the King anthology "Everything’s Eventual," published in 2002."
Hafstrom is a Swedish filmmaker who makes his big Hollywood debut with next month’s "Derailed." Alexander & Karaszewski are a longtime writing team who collaborated to bring you "Problem Child," "Ed Wood," "That Darn Cat," "The People vs. Larry Flynt," "Man on the Moon," "Screwed," and "Agent Cody Banks."