(Photo by Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

All Jim Carrey Movies Ranked by Tomatometer

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!

#28

Dark Crimes (2016)
0%

#28
Adjusted Score: 1378%
Critics Consensus: Dark Crimes is a rote, unpleasant thriller that fails to parlay its compelling true story and a committed Jim Carrey performance into even modest chills.
Synopsis: A hard-boiled detective becomes suspicious of an author when the incidents described in his hit novel resemble the inner-workings of... [More]
Directed By: Alexandros Avranas

#27

Once Bitten (1985)
10%

#27
Adjusted Score: 9753%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A centuries-old vampire, the countess (Lauren Hutton) has kept her youthful look by drinking the blood of male virgins. Since... [More]
Directed By: Howard Storm

#26
Adjusted Score: 26175%
Critics Consensus: Nature Calls in this Ace Ventura sequel, and it's answered by the law of diminishing returns.
Synopsis: Legendary pet detective Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) returns for another adventure when he's coerced out of retirement while on a... [More]
Directed By: Steve Oedekerk

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 33031%
Critics Consensus: This muddled comedy has a few laughs, but never sustains a consistent tone.
Synopsis: After Dick Harper (Jim Carrey) loses his job at Globodyne in an Enron-esque collapse, he and his wife, Jane (Téa... [More]
Directed By: Dean Parisot

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 35237%
Critics Consensus: Dumb and Dumber To does have its moments, but not enough of them -- and the Farrelly brothers' brand of humor is nowhere near as refreshingly transgressive as it once seemed.
Synopsis: In need of a new kidney and having learned that he has a long-lost daughter, dimwit Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels)... [More]

#23

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
32%

#23
Adjusted Score: 40448%
Critics Consensus: Kick-Ass 2 falls short in its attempt to emulate the original's unique blend of ultra-violence and ironic humor.
Synopsis: Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), aka Kick-Ass, and Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz), aka Hit Girl, are trying to live as normal teenagers... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Wadlow

#22
Adjusted Score: 44776%
Critics Consensus: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone serves up some goofy laughs, but given its outrageous conceit, it's surprisingly safe and predictable.
Synopsis: Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and his partner, Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi), have reigned as kings of the Las... [More]
Directed By: Don Scardino

#21

Batman Forever (1995)
38%

#21
Adjusted Score: 42282%
Critics Consensus: Loud, excessively busy, and often boring, Batman Forever nonetheless has the charisma of Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones to offer mild relief.
Synopsis: Batman (Val Kilmer) faces off against two foes: the schizophrenic, horribly scarred former District Attorney Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face (Tommy... [More]
Directed By: Joel Schumacher

#20

The Majestic (2001)
42%

#20
Adjusted Score: 46415%
Critics Consensus: Ponderous and overlong, The Majestic drowns in forced sentimentality and resembles a mish-mash of other, better films.
Synopsis: Rising Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) is blacklisted in the early 1950s Red Scare. Following a drunken car accident,... [More]
Directed By: Frank Darabont

#19

Yes Man (2008)
46%

#19
Adjusted Score: 51994%
Critics Consensus: Jim Carrey's comic convulsions are the only bright spots in this otherwise dim and predictable comedy.
Synopsis: Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is stuck in a rut with his negative ways. Then he goes to a self-help seminar... [More]
Directed By: Peyton Reed

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 50475%
Critics Consensus: While Jim Carrey's comedic skills earn some laughs, Me, Myself and Irene sports a tired, unsatisfying plot.
Synopsis: Meet Charlie Baileygates, a 17-year veteran of the Rhode Island police force. Charlie is mild-mannered, hard-working, always helpful, and a... [More]

#17
#17
Adjusted Score: 51247%
Critics Consensus: Blandly inoffensive and thoroughly predictable, Mr. Popper's Penguins could have been worse -- but it should have been better.
Synopsis: Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey) is a successful real estate developer in Manhattan. He lives in a posh apartment on Park... [More]
Directed By: Mark Waters

#16

Bruce Almighty (2003)
48%

#16
Adjusted Score: 54579%
Critics Consensus: Carrey is hilarious in the slapstick scenes, but Bruce Almighty gets bogged down in treacle.
Synopsis: Bruce Nolan's (Jim Carrey) career in TV has been stalled for a while, and when he's passed over for a... [More]
Directed By: Tom Shadyac

#15
Adjusted Score: 52832%
Critics Consensus: Jim Carrey's twitchy antics and gross-out humor are on full, bombastic display in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which is great news for fans of his particular brand of comedy but likely unsatisfying for anyone else.
Synopsis: When the dolphin mascot of Miami's NFL team is abducted, Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey), a zany private investigator who specializes... [More]
Directed By: Tom Shadyac

#14
Adjusted Score: 54294%
Critics Consensus: Jim Carrey shines as the Grinch. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save this movie. You'd be better off watching the TV cartoon.
Synopsis: In this live-action adaptation of the beloved children's tale by Dr. Seuss, the reclusive green Grinch (Jim Carrey) decides to... [More]
Directed By: Ron Howard

#13
Adjusted Score: 60191%
Critics Consensus: Robert Zemeckis' 3-D animated take on the Dickens classic tries hard, but its dazzling special effects distract from an array of fine performances from Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman.
Synopsis: Though London awaits the joyful arrival of Christmas, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) thinks it's all humbug, berating his faithful... [More]
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis

#12

The Cable Guy (1996)
54%

#12
Adjusted Score: 57578%
Critics Consensus: The Cable Guy's dark flashes of thought-provoking, subversive wit are often -- but not always -- enough to counter its frustratingly uneven storytelling approach.
Synopsis: Oddball cable installer Chip Douglas (Jim Carrey) attempts to strike up a friendship with customer Steven Kovacs (Matthew Broderick) by... [More]
Directed By: Ben Stiller

#11

Man on the Moon (1999)
64%

#11
Adjusted Score: 68222%
Critics Consensus: Jim Carrey is eerily dead-on in his portrayal of Andy Kaufman, which helps to elevate Man on the Moon above the script's formulaic biopic cliches.
Synopsis: Jim Carrey stars as the late Andy Kaufman, who was considered one of the most innovative, eccentric and enigmatic performers... [More]
Directed By: Milos Forman

#10
#10
Adjusted Score: 79106%
Critics Consensus: Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game-inspired adventure the whole family can enjoy -- and a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career.
Synopsis: The world needed a hero -- it got a hedgehog. Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Fowler

#9
#9
Adjusted Score: 71494%
Critics Consensus: Earth Girls Are Easy is messy, silly, and not particularly bright -- qualities it comes by honestly and deliberately.
Synopsis: In this musical comedy, Valerie (Geena Davis) is dealing with her philandering fiancé, Ted (Charles Rocket), when she finds that... [More]
Directed By: Julien Temple

#8

Dumb & Dumber (1994)
68%

#8
Adjusted Score: 70197%
Critics Consensus: A relentlessly stupid comedy elevated by its main actors: Jim Carrey goes bonkers and Jeff Daniels carries himself admirably in an against-type performance.
Synopsis: Imbecilic best friends Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) stumble across a suitcase full of money left... [More]

#7
Adjusted Score: 76758%
Critics Consensus: This fact-based romantic comedy has its flaws, but they're mostly overcome by its consistently sweet, funny tone and one of the best performances of Jim Carrey's career.
Synopsis: Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) becomes a cop, gets married and starts a family, but after a terrible car accident, he... [More]
Directed By: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

#6
Adjusted Score: 76694%
Critics Consensus: Although it softens the nasty edges of its source material, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a gothic visual treat, and it features a hilariously manic turn from Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf.
Synopsis: After the three young Baudelaire siblings are left orphaned by a fire in their mansion, they are carted off to... [More]
Directed By: Brad Silberling

#5

The Mask (1994)
79%

#5
Adjusted Score: 82199%
Critics Consensus: It misses perhaps as often as it hits, but Jim Carrey's manic bombast, Cameron Diaz' blowsy appeal, and the film's overall cartoony bombast keep The Mask afloat.
Synopsis: When timid bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) discovers a magical mask containing the spirit of the Norse god Loki,... [More]
Directed By: Charles Russell

#4
Adjusted Score: 84142%
Critics Consensus: Horton Hears A Who! is both whimsical and heartwarming, and is the rare Dr. Seuss adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the source material.
Synopsis: Animated elephant Horton (Jim Carrey) finds a speck of dust floating in the Jungle of Nool. Upon investigation of the... [More]

#3

Liar Liar (1997)
82%

#3
Adjusted Score: 85636%
Critics Consensus: Despite its thin plot, Liar Liar is elevated by Jim Carrey's exuberant brand of physical humor, and the result is a laugh riot that helped to broaden the comedian's appeal.
Synopsis: Conniving attorney Fletcher Reede (Jim Carrey) is an ace in the courtroom, but his dishonesty and devotion to work ruin... [More]
Directed By: Tom Shadyac

#2
Adjusted Score: 101335%
Critics Consensus: Propelled by Charlie Kaufman's smart, imaginative script and Michel Gondry's equally daring directorial touch, Eternal Sunshine is a twisty yet heartfelt look at relationships and heartache.
Synopsis: After a painful breakup, Clementine (Kate Winslet) undergoes a procedure to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey)... [More]
Directed By: Michel Gondry

#1

The Truman Show (1998)
95%

#1
Adjusted Score: 101732%
Critics Consensus: A funny, tender, and thought-provoking film, The Truman Show is all the more noteworthy for its remarkably prescient vision of runaway celebrity culture and a nation with an insatiable thirst for the private details of ordinary lives.
Synopsis: He doesn't know it, but everything in Truman Burbank's (Jim Carrey) life is part of a massive TV set. Executive... [More]
Directed By: Peter Weir

This weekend Moviegoers powered Jim Carrey’s holiday kidpic A Christmas Carol to a number one opening but some fans remained stingy preventing the Disney 3D toon from meeting industry expectations. On the complete other side of the movie spectrum, the inner city drama Precious debuted to spectacular results enjoying one of the most impressive limited release debuts ever. Three other new wide releases were sprinkled across the top ten with mixed results as the overall marketplace fell behind year-ago levels.

The 3D yuletide pic A Christmas Carol bowed on top this weekend grossing an estimated $31M from 3,683 locations and performed better than previous motion capture pics from director Robert Zemeckis, but worse than most animated films that kick off the holiday movie season in early November. Averaging $8,417 per site, the PG-rated adaptation of the classic Dickens story featured Carrey playing multiple roles. But the lack of comedy may have impacted grosses as today’s children are used to a huge serving of laughs when they see toons on the big screen, especially 3D ones. Mixed reviews also hurt its case. The opening was only slightly better than the $30.3M bow of September’s 3D animated pic Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs which did not have a megastar anchoring it and debuted in 500 fewer theaters during a slower month.

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Carol performed much like The Polar Express, another motion capture project from Zemeckis with an A-list star and Christmas theme released in early November. The Tom Hanks-led Express launched on a Wednesday and grossed $23.3M over three days and $30.6M over five days. Factor in Carol‘s Friday launch, five years of ticket price increases, and surcharges collected this weekend by the 3D and IMAX 3D screens, and the audience size was about the same. Christmas flicks opening at this time of year usually enjoy good legs and reach totals five to six times their opening weekend takes so Disney is hopeful that the big-budget Carrey vehicle will continue to play in the weeks ahead.

Michael Jackson’s This Is It held up well in its second weekend, thanks in part to a Wednesday debut which softened the Friday-to-Sunday launch period, and dropped 40% to an estimated $14M. After 12 days, the Sony release has grossed $57.9M and could be headed for a $85-90M finish now that its original two-week run has been extended. Overseas, it was the top grosser once again taking in an estimated $29M which boosted the international cume to $128.6M and the global haul to a sturdy $186.5M. 69% of the worldwide take has come from outside of North America. This Is It has performed best in Japan ($23.6M), the United Kingdom ($13.3M), Germany ($11.1M), and France ($10.6M).

The military dramedy The Men Who Stare At Goats enjoyed a commendable start grossing an estimated $13.3M from 2,443 locations this weekend for a $5,448 average. The R-rated film stars George Clooney as a psychic in the U.S. military being followed by a journalist played by Ewan McGregor. Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey also star. Critics had mixed feelings for the Overture release which played evenly to adult men and women.

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Although the pumpkin holiday has come and gone, Universal released its supernatural thriller The Fourth Kind and wound up with a decent debut in the appropriate fourth place slot with an estimated $12.5M. The PG-13 pic about alien abduction stories averaged a good $4,955 from 2,527 sites. Sold almost like a follow-up to Paranormal Activity with creepy camcorder footage in its television commercials, Fourth played to young men as studio research showed that males made up 55% of the audience while 61% was under 25. Reviews were dismal for the Milla Jovovich starrer.

Paranormal finally acted like a normal movie and fell 48% to an estimated $8.6M in its seventh weekend of release. Paramount’s much-talked-about thriller saw sales decline since the Halloween season was over and there was hardly any expansion of screens. The R-rated smash is now within striking distance of the century mark with a cume of $97.4M.

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Yet another creepy film followed. Moviegoers spent only $7.9M on the opening weekend of the Cameron Diaz suspense thriller The Box, according to estimates. The Warner Bros. release bowed in 2,635 locations but averaged a weak $2,981 per site. The R-rated pic told the tale of a mysterious box with a button that when pushed would give a person one million dollars but also kill an unknown person somewhere else in the world. Reviews were mixed but audiences did not buy into it, especially with many other scary movie options out there.

Universal’s relationship comedy Couples Retreat enjoyed a remarkable fifth frame as its weekend take dipped by only one half of one percent to $6.4M. Flat with last weekend, the Vince Vaughn pic is still taking advantage of a fall box office curiously lacking funny choices for adults. Part of the strong hold can be attributed to a solid Saturday which bounced back 30% from last weekend’s Halloween-affected gross. Total stands at $96M and Couples will cross the $100M mark by the end of the week following right behind Paranormal Activity.

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Also enjoying a solid hold was the revenge thriller Law Abiding Citizen which slipped only 17% to an estimated $6.2M for a $60.9M sum. Where the Wild Things Are followed in ninth with an estimated $4.2M, down 29%, while fellow kidpic Astro Boy ranked tenth with an estimated $2.6M, off 25%. Totals are $69.3M and $15.1M, respectively.

The weekend’s big story came in limited release with the sensational launch of the award-winning drama Precious which debuted in just 18 theaters but grossed an estimated $1.8M for an eye-popping $100,000 average per location. Lionsgate opted to open the critically acclaimed awards contender in four markets – industry towns New York and Los Angeles plus Chicago and Atlanta, homes of executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry respectively who have pledged their full support to the pic. The R-rated film has generated buzz all year from the film industry’s top three festivals (Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto), attracted fans of the popular book which the pic was based on, and played to the large crowds that the two media moguls have.

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The Precious numbers were among the best ever seen by any film. Other notable limited release films with sensational opening averages include 2006’s Dreamgirls with its $25 tickets ($126,317 average from 3 theaters), 2005’s Brokeback Mountain ($109,485 from 5), the same year’s Memoirs of a Geisha ($85,313 from 8), 2007’s Juno ($59,124 from 7), 1999’s American Beauty ($53,846 from 16), and that same year’s The Blair Witch Project ($56,002 from 27). Last month after two amazing weeks of only midnight shows, Paranormal Activity‘s first regular weekend of limited play resulted in a stellar $49,379 average from 160 playdates.

The Precious numbers were among the best ever seen by any film. Other notable limited release films with sensational opening averages include 2006’s Dreamgirls with its $25 tickets ($126,317 average from 3 theaters), 2005’s Brokeback Mountain ($109,485 from 5), the same year’s Memoirs of a Geisha ($85,313 from 8), 2007’s Juno ($59,124 from 7), 1999’s American Beauty ($53,846 from 16), and that same year’s The Blair Witch Project ($56,002 from 27). Last month after two amazing weeks of only midnight shows, Paranormal Activity‘s first regular weekend of limited play resulted in a stellar $49,379 average from 160 playdates.

Lionsgate will expand Precious into five more markets on Friday (San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.) and then go wide on November 20. It should jump into the top ten next weekend ahead of what could be a prolonged run through awards season leading up to the Oscars in early March.

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Elsewhere in limited release, the French art film La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet bowed to an estimated $14,000 from only one New York theater with most shows selling out over the weekend. The Zipporah Films release banked a solid $21,220 since its Wednesday launch and will expand to Los Angeles and Chicago on November 20. Also doing well in its debut in a solo Manhattan house was the romantic comedy Splinterheads which grossed an estimated $12,000 for new distributor Paladin. It widens to Austin and Portland on Friday.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $106.7M which was down 14% from last year when Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa opened in the top spot with $63.1M; but up 13% from 2007 when Bee Movie climbed into the number one spot in its second weekend with $25.6M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru

This week at the movies, we’ve got some modern-day Dickens (Disney’s A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman); a button-pushing thriller (The Box, starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden); vanishing Alaskans (The Fourth Kind, starring Milla Jovovich and Elias Koteas); and some psychic soldiers (The Men Who Stare at Goats, starring George Clooney and Jeff Bridges). What do the critics have to say?



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Disney’s A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of literature’s most haunting morality tales — and one of the most adapted. Critics are largely split on two key aspects of Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture version starring Jim Carrey: whether it honors the, ahem, spirit of Dickens’ classic, and whether the motion-capture technology is aesthetically appealing. No need to rehash the plot; if you’ve never heard the tale of mean ol’ Ebenezer Scrooge (Carrey) and his long-suffering employee Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman), get thee to a library immediately. While some find Zemeckis’ live action/animation hybrid an echanting way of updating a seasonal classic, others feel the visuals bog down the classic tale with an overabundance of empty action.



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The Box

Richard Kelly has only made three films, but he’s had a roller-coaster of a career. His debut was the cult-fave Donnie Darko, which was followed by the ambitious but roundly-panned Southland Tales. Now comes his latest mind twister The Box, which is splitting critics; some say it’s an intriguing head trip, while others say it’s preposterous and inconsistent. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden play a married couple presented with a mysterious proposition from a stranger: there’s a button in a box, and if they push it, they will receive a million dollars, but someone will die. Some pundits say The Box is tense, edgy, and original, while others deride its plot holes and lack of overall cohesion. (Check out Kelly’s Five Favorite Films here.)



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The Fourth Kind

With its combination of a government conspiracy, extraterrestrial visitors, and the foreboding climes of Alaska, The Fourth Kind seemingly has all the elements in place for a gripping horror flick. Too bad the execution’s so clumsy, critics say. Milla Jovovich stars as a shrink whose patients all tell her similar tales of nighttime frights; could aliens be to blame? The pundits say The Fourth Kind has some decent shocks, but its gimmicky presentation — a split screen technique in which patients describe their experiences alongside pseudo-documentary footage of the events — doesn’t quite come off, and the performances are uneven.



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The Men Who Stare at Goats

For the most part, the recent wave of Iraq war films has brought downbeat dramas, so the satirical aim of The Men Who Stare at Goats is certainly welcome. And critics say that the film, though scattershot, has moments of brilliant absurdist humor. Hinting that its story is not terribly far from the truth, Goats is the tale of a secret military program that involves the use of psychics who attempt to use their mind power to defeat the enemy. The pundits say the film is elevated by the deadpan comic presence of George Clooney, and if the film never fully comes together, many of its scenes are sharp and funny. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down Clooney’s best-reviewed films.)


Also opening this week in limited release:

This week’s eerie mo-cap rendering of the ghostly, dark Dickens morality tale A Christmas Carol from director Robert Zemeckis is far from being the only yuletide movie where heartwarming ho-ho-hos are as likely as horrific moments. From Saint Nick battling Martians, Satan, takeover bids from misguided Halloween skeletons and alcoholism, to the holiest of holidays run amok with carolling, cackling little green monsters, suicidal family men, deranged slashers and WWF stars dispensing seasonal platitudes, we give you 10 grim stuffing stockers guaranteed to wish you a very scary Christmas. Pass the egg nog, the butcher knife and the animatronic reindeer…



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Scrooged

Bill Murray is at his-dripping-with-sarcasm best as cold-hearted TV executive Frank Cross in this modern take on A Christmas Carol. While this is a black comedy, there’s also some freaky stuff here, with Frank’s mouldy-old dead boss Lou dangling him out a window, Carol Kane’s Ghost Of Christmas Present kicking him in the nuts and the ghoulish Grim Reaper-style Ghost of Christmas Future’s robes concealing the tortured souls of the damned locked in its rib cage. But it’s actually Frank’s ideas for yuletide TV that are truly terrifying — he’s producing a live version of the Scrooge story starring Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim, along with some half-naked dancers. His other Christmas specials? Lee Majors in the action special The Night the Reindeer Died, variety show Bob Goulet’s Cajun Christmas and Father Loves Beaver. Perhaps scariest of all? Throughout the movie, Frank drinks vodka poisoned with TAB!



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Gremlins

Joe Dante’s crazy-critter sends up It’s A Wonderful Life with its bucolic Christmas burb threatened by the title creatures — and nods to The Wizard of Oz with its canine-hating rich old crone Mrs Deagle. In this cartoonish comedy, Stripe and his anarchic brethren unleash all sorts of hell, killing a teacher with a hypodermic needle to the butt, molesting Santa Claus, running riot in a cinema and sending Deagle flying out her second-story window. But the human response is pretty tough, too, with hero Billy’s mom Lynn coming off like some sort of James Cameron heroine as she stabs a gremlin, forces another into a blender and explodes a third in the microwave. Perhaps the most frightening (and funny) moment comes when gorgeous Phoebe Cates reveals how she came to hate Christmas when her dad’s down-the-chimney Santa act went so, so tragically wrong.



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Christmas Evil

The Santa-slasher sub-genre is surprisingly well stocked, with offerings such as Don’t Open Till Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night and the godawful Brett Ratner-produced Santa’s Slay. But Christmas Evil — which is one of Christmas-maniac John Waters’ favorite movies — is actually a serious take on the matter. Coming off like Taxi Driver, the anti-hero here is Harry, who’s never been the same since as a kid he saw mommy having her, er, fireplace stoked by a guy in a Santa suit. Now grown-up, Harry lives alone in an apartment decorated year-round for Christmas and creepily spies on the neighborhood kids and lists their misdeeds in a big ledger. Then, as December 25 approaches, he finally cracks, gluing on a Santa beard, cackling crazily in front of the mirror and stealing toys from the factory where he works to give to the poor kids. Oh, and he uses a tomahawk to splatter the brains of his boss and a few other bastards on the front steps of a church in a hit that’s more like something out of The Godfather than Halloween. The ending — when he’s pursued by a mob of New Yorkers bearing flaming torches — is truly bizarre and (in a serial killery way) miraculous.



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It’s A Wonderful Life

Think of all the moments you remember about this classic. It’s all bless us this and bells tolling with joy about that. But remember what it’s all about up until that point. Good old Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey is so depressed over a banker-instigated economic meltdown that he wants to kill himself. It takes an angel to bring him back, and show him that as a man of keen eyesight, valorious war service and a financial officer actually interested in affordable housing for the poor, he has saved and enriched a lot of lives. Truly, a fantasy! That it ends with a popular bail-out of the bank (well, Building And Loan) is another reason this one won’t be remade anytime soon. It’d be safer to greenlight Battlefield Earth 2.



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Santa Claus

If you put Tim Burton in the wayback machine half a century with only the tagline “Santa Vs Satan”, this might be what he came up with. Rene Cardona’s Mexican yuletide epic has Santa and Co. pitted against Pitch, the little invisible devil who’s doing the bidding of Lucifer. See, Satan wants all the boys and girls to rebel against Santa by doing evil — and he’ll even get Pitch to whisper in little ears the news that their jolly idol is a murderer. This is supposedly for kids but comes off as totally freaky, from the creepy animatronic reindeer that pull Santa’s sleigh to his spooky floating castle that’s decorated with pentagrams.



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Black Christmas

John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween is a classic, no two ways about it, but Bob Clark set the pace with this seasonally titled slasher featuring point-of-view killer-cam. With its frighteneing phone calls — coming from inside the house! — it also hugely anticipated When A Stranger Calls, which was a hit in 1979. This disturbing piece of work takes place over the Christmas break when an emptied sorority house is stalked by a maniac with some pretty serious issues and an even more serious case of maniacal laughter. Stalkees include Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey. You can go to the grave without worrying about 2006’s needless remake.



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Bad Santa

This is one of the most quotable Christmas movies ever — but you’ll be locked up if you start reciting the lines in front of the kids. Directed by Terry Zwigoff, who gave us Crumb and Ghost World, and produced by the Coen brothers, this is Christmas fare at its most blackly comic. Billy Bob Thornton is Willie, a boozy and bitter mall Santa who, with Tony Cox’s sidekick elf, each year uses his access to commit a department-store burglary. He’s a funny bastard — whose dark side is lightened somewhat when he takes a nerdy kid under his stinking armpit — but what he likes to do with overweight ladies’ bottoms is so scary we can’t put it on a family site like this one.



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Santa With Muscles

Unless your official title is “Mila Kunis’s Number One Fan Fovever!” you can live without ever pressing Play on this underfed but overbaked Christmas turkey. Hulk Hogan plays an amnesiac rich dude who, thanks to stupid scripting, comes to believe that he’s Santa. Thus he dons a cut-off version of the red suit and saves some orphans (one of them being young Mila) from an evil developer by doing a bit of PG-friendly ass-kicking. Supporting players include Clint Howard and Ed Begley Jr, just to ham things up further. Truly, as a family comedy, this is a lump of coal in your stocking.



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Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Unless your official title is “Pia Zadora’s Number One Fan Forever!” — and it can’t be, because Christmas-maniac John Waters already has that job — then you can also do without this famous Z-grade yuletide offering. Martian parents, observing how listless their kids are, decide to kidnap Santa to cheer up the little tykes (one of who is Pia, aged about six, and blissfully unaware that her future included Butterfly and The Lonely Lady). Pantomime shenanigans ensue which include a bad Martian and his robot and a finale involving a billion or so bubbles! If you’re four years old, you might just dig it. Parents however will be driven instantly insane by the title track, “Hooray For Santy Claus”.



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The Nightmare Before Christmas

Speaking of kidnapping Santa, well, that’s just what misguided Jack Skellington does in this wonderful stop-motion black comedy from producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick, who’d do this year’s brilliant (and similarly dark) Coraline. Our misfit hero, previously in charge of Halloween — he does, after all, live in Halloweentown — stumbles into Christmastown and likes the idea of being Santa a whole lot better. So, he kidnaps St. Nick and takes his place, bestowing a bunch of highly inappropriate gifts on unsuspecting children everywhere. Like Gremlins, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a perfect introduction to horror-comedy for younger kids.


Michael Adams is the author of the upcoming book Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic’s Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made

(It Books/HarperCollins)

Wolverine

‘Tis almost that season again, and to celebrate, Rotten Tomatoes and Disney are giving you the chance to be at the Sydney IMAX premiere of A Christmas Carol
, the latest in 3-D motion capture wizardry from filmmaker Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, The Polar Express). Based on Charles Dickens’ holiday classic, Zemeckis’ reimagining stars Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge — as well as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

This premiere event will take place at Sydney’s Darling Harbour IMAX on November 4.

To win, just email and tell us, in 25 words or less, your favourite film by Robert Zemeckis. Send your answers along with your mailing address for tickets to: A Christmas Carol Sydney Premiere.

Entries close Friday, October 30. Winners will be notified by mail. This contest is open to Australian residents only.

A Christmas Carol opens nationally on November 5.

Pedro Almodovar is a firm favourite in Cannes, so it’s no surprise to see his new film Broken Embraces receiving largely positive reviews from the assembled critics. The director’s first foray into film noir territory since Bad Education half a decade ago, the movie stars long-time collaborator Penelope Cruz as a beautiful actress who owes her career to her elderly millionaire lover, and Screen Daily’s Barry Byrne calls it “a sleek post-Oscar vehicle” for the star.

Byrne also writes that it will satisfy admirers of the director’s work. “Fans of Almodovar will get plenty of what they expect here – rich saturated colours, hyper plotting, stylistic pyrotechnics and off-centre comedy.”

Peter Bradshaw, of The Guardian, echoes this sentiment, declaring it to be “a richly enjoyable piece of work, slick and sleek, with a sensuous feel for the cinematic surfaces of things and, as ever, self-reflexively infatuated with the business of cinema itself.” However, he also adds “It doesn’t quite match the heartfelt power of his 2006 Cannes contender, Volver.”

It’s a criticism shared by David Gritten in the Daily Telegraph, who agrees that Almodovar, “remains a distinctive stylist and a dazzling film-maker with technique to burn,” but adds that, “while his new film parades his many virtues, it treads water rather than breaks new ground.”

Cannes 2009
Penelope Cruz in Almodovar’s Broken Embraces

Emanuel Levy summarises this opinion. “Stylistically compelling but thematically familiar, Almodovar’s 17th film is a summation work in which he reworks ideas, characters and genres that had intrigued him for three decades.”

Wendy Ide of The Times was even more critical, stating that Broken Embraces “feels like a mixed bag of smart ideas and nods to other pictures, rather than a coherent, distinct work of art.”

After 8 reviews counted, the film sits at 86% on the Tomatometer, with the general consensus swaying towards cautious optimism if not outright praise.

Jim Carrey caused quite the stir when he arrived on the Croisette to publicise A Christmas Carol on Monday, but today all the talk was of his performance in the forthcoming tragic-comedy I Love You Phillip Morris, co-starring Ewan McGregor.

Based on a remarkable true story, the film tells the tale of Stephen Russell, whose love for the titular Phillip Morris — a man he meets in jail — causes him to commit a series of increasingly outlandish crimes.

Cannes 2009
Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey in I Love You Phillip Morris

Writing for Variety, John Anderson called it Carrey’s “most complicated comedic role since The Cable Guy and calls his character “so criminal and gay it will leave audiences both laughing and stunned.”

Damon Wise for The Times agrees. It’s a “funny, sometimes tender and ultimately unsettling black comedy,” he says. “These directors know what they’re doing. Just when you think you have this sweet but seemingly lightweight movie figured out, it ends with a sucker punch that forces you to re-evaluate everything.”

The film is 4 for 4 fresh on the Tomatometer, but with only a limited number of reviews coming out of Cannes and, earlier, Sundance. This looks like a film which could sneak up on audiences when it does roll out for release — we’ve witnessed buzz developing on it over two years at the Cannes festival now.

Join us again soon when, finally, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds plays for the Cannes crowd and we find out whether the expedited shoot, leaked script and lots of hype has resulted in a whopping 2 hours and 40 minutes of cinematic pleasure or pain.

Big, fat flakes of white snow suddenly began tumbling down in the roasting afternoon heat of the Cannes Film Festival yesterday. It wasn’t global warming. It was just Cannes. Because here, you can do that. The festival is its own Field Of Dreams: if you pay for it, it will come. You want Christmas in May? You got it. You want Jim Carrey throwing snowballs after being brought in on a horse-drawn carriage? You got that too.

Striding up a frosty red carpet between a set of pumping snow-machines, Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Colin Firth and Robin Wright Penn arrived in style for this scene of meteorological madness to introduce the world’s first look at Robert Zemeckis‘ upcoming 3D ‘toon A Christmas Carol.

With all the hype and hush around James Cameron‘s upcoming stereoscopic sci-fi epic Avatar, it’s easy to forget that Zemeckis is the true godfather of the 3D revolution. After the groundbreaking The Polar Express and Beowulf, his adaptation of the Dickens’ classic looks set to raise the bar even further.

Cannes 200 - Jeff Vespa/Wireimage.com
Carrey and McCarthy turn Cannes into a snowfield.

“This is the first time we’ve shown this footage to anyone,” explained Zemeckis, as a room of critics and journalists expectantly donned 3D glasses below a giant screen inside the Carlton Hotel. “Disney has given us the resources to take the performance-capture art form to the next level. Jim used every muscle in his body to drives the look of these character and we’re going to re-envision this classic novel in a way that I like to think Mr. Dickens envisioned it in his own mind.”

He wasn’t kidding. The two short scenes of footage that unspooled were, frankly, stunning. Motion-captured with an incredible level of depth and detail, Carrey transforms not only into the wizened, bitter Scrooge but each one of the three ghosts that haunts him. What really stunned were the astonishing facial nuances of the characters — you can see Scrooge’s lower lip curl with subtle malice or a malicious twitch of his eye as he talks to Colin Firth’s Fred, also rendered with startling realism. Richer, warmer and more convincing than the milky-blind waxworks that have walked around in previous mo-capped ‘toons, A Christmas Carol looks to have broken new ground in breathing human life into animated characters.

“It’s not just voiceover work, these are complete performance by all of the actors,” explained Carrey. “This technology takes it to another place.” Firth even called it a purer form of acting. “Once you put on the manhood-cancelling spandex suit and the thing that looks like a bicycle helmet with cameras on it all pointing at your face, you’re never off camera,” he explained. Sat next to him, Carrey nodded seriously. “When you start out talking out of your butt, it’s a long road to get to this place.”

Cannes 200 - Jeff Vespa/Wireimage.com
Snow falls on the Croisette on one of the hottest days of the fest.

From Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to Forrest Gump, Zemeckis has always been a master at shackling new technology to great storytelling. The second thrilling sequence showed how he’s used digital 3D to unlock a gorgeously immersive new depth to the screen. In fact, it’s not a screen anymore. It’s a window. Warping through a wooden door into Scrooges’ room, the infamous Marley’s Ghost hurls giant chain-wrapped books crashing through the 3D space and on to the floor around a terrified Scrooge. Then his jaw falls off.

Frightening, funny and spectacular, it looks like just a taste of Zemeckis’ visual-effects showstopper: an eye-roasting final teaser then showed Scrooge being rocketed into the night sky by the blazing Ghost Of The Christmas Past before plummeting back down through the clouds toward the cobblestones of 19th-century London. A tiny snowflake drifts through the air in front of the audience and rests on Scrooge’s looming, beaky nose. Filling the screen in close up, he squints at it distastefully, then irritably blows it off. “Baa… humbug.”

Check out our gallery from the Cannes photocall right here!

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