With the release of Mr Popper’s Penguins (not a film I expect to be making it into this list) I find myself looking back on the career of Jim Carrey. His first acting credit, according to IMDB, was in 1980 on a TV show called The All-Night Show. I doubt he’d remember that now, but with over three decades of work that a lot of cinema fans look back on fondly it’s not hard to say that Carrey has been a delight throughout the years. He’s had his ups and downs and a lot of silly moments, so here is what I consider to be his ten best roles so far throughout his career:
10. Bruce Nolan from Bruce Almighty (2003)
I think it’s one of those roles which if you really look at Carrey from his roots plays to all his strengths. It’s flamboyant funny where he can be silly and never have to worry about the consequences of his actions and just run with it for most of the film. Then it comes around to the moral of the story and he sits there all sincere and has learned an important lesson. It also helps that the movie is pretty enjoyable as well.
9. Peter Appleton in The Majestic (2001)
I feel like this movie might be worth revisiting because I’m sure it can’t be as good as I remember it when I first saw it. When I saw this movie at the time I believe it was the first dramatic role I had seen Carrey do. It was sweet and fun and set in the 50s (like all movies should be).
8. The Grinch in How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
It would be probably best to not admit how much I enjoyed this movie, but that’s not how I roll here on gmanreviews. I loved it. I know that the original is better and such, but the film was just everything I wanted from a feature length live-action adaption of the original cartoon. Carrey amped up the fun and let the role go to some really dark places and I wish that more people would do that with properties like this.
7. Charlie Baileygates/Hank Evans in Me, Myself & Irene (2000)
I remember when this film was released it was one of the most talked about films of the time since it was – if I remember correctly – Carrey‘s first time going into the R rated comedy. I’m sure the critical response was nowhere near my love for the movie but it had me in stitches at the time and remembering that is enough for it to make the lower fifth of this list. Carrey does great with the double sided personality while trying to find his wife and get her to love him again only to find out that’s not what he really needs at this time. It’s a fun road movie.
6. Lloyd Christmas in Dumb & Dumber (1994)
So here’s one of the first movies I got to see Carrey in, the others being Ace Ventura and The Mask (both not making this list). Carrey plays the role of one of the most gullible almost to the point of retarded lovable guys you’ll ever know. He just sits there saying these crazy things and it makes me laugh and at the same time want to take him under my wing and teach him better, but in a nice way.
5. Count Olaf in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
I don’t know anyone who didn’t love this movie. It’s whimsical in the way that Carrey was meant to be and he’s fantastic as the disguise wearing evil Uncle who takes in a set of brats for the eventual pay off guy. He’s just a great character when he’s allowed to go wild with one and this is one of those movies.
4. Truman Burbank in The Truman Show (1998)
When we talk about dramatic roles and Carrey the conversation has to start and end with The Truman Show. If you’ve ever watched old sitcoms, like those set in the 50s and 60s, you’ll see where the fun in this movie comes from. What would it be like to stage a complete reality around one man who’s oblivious to his own world, and then let him start to figure it all out. It’s a great role for Carrey and I love it.
3. Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon (1999)
Andy Kaufman is one of those comedians that people of today are still trying to figure out and Carrey was able to bring that sense of experimentation that Kaufman had in every one of his acts to the screen in the biopic that I think everyone should see, Man on the Moon. Every so often Kaufman would pose a bit, joke, gag or prank and everyone around him would just stare at him blankly, as if to say that he was out of his mind, and at no point did it feel like a script being recited by Carrey but rather him embedding his own comical nature into a character that already existed and it became life at that point. In quite possibly his best performance of all time he’s brilliant.
2. Joel Barish in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
So this is a bit far. I think that for once Carrey is allowed to be natural in a dramatic role. In all the previously mentioned dramatic films he’s still had a sense of humour about himself and willing to be silly. Here however, playing a heart broken man trying to erase his ex-girlfriend from his mind we get to see him be a regular neurotic guy who’s reliving the love of his life and expressing it in such a way that we more than understand what he’s going through. It’s great and while I deliberated for a while as to whether it was better or worse than his performance as Kaufman in Man on the Moon, I guess I don’t know is the response.
1. Steven Russell in I Love You Phillip Morris (2010)
Over time this movie has grown on me in ways that not many films do. I think, while critically his performance in this movie is pitch perfect, that I picked this performance over all others is that it’s the kind of role that I could see Carrey doing from when I used to see him on In Living Color doing comedy bits for fun. The quirky Canadian man who can make ridiculous funny faces has finally found a way to bridge the gap between comedy and drama in a film about con men and love when he falls in love with a man in prison. It’s hilarious and will remain a special film, and performance, to me.