Pop-Ed: Jim Carrey’s Top 10 Movie Moments

daniel cohen sees something on the wing … some … thing …

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In the 90’s, Jim Carrey was king. Every single Jim Carrey movie was an event. You can throw all of today’s popular comedic actors at me: Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Kristen Wiig, whatever … Jim Carrey was more talented then all of them combined. His comedic timing, delivery, and physical humor were awe inspiring. And when you look at a lot of the movies he was in, they should have been absolute crap. Not only did he elevate weak material to good, he made it great. But we all know Carrey is funny. To this day, his dramatic work doesn’t get the credit it deserves. This guy can flat out act. He’s been screwed out of so many Oscar nominations, it makes me want to throw up.

But with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’s release last weekend, I thought this would be a good opportunity to break down the best cinematic Carrey moments. And we got a good mix of drama, comedy, and down right zany. So let’s put on the mask, chip our front teeth, and hang out with animals, it’s The Top 10 Best Jim Carrey Moments!

10) Rewind! – Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995):
Well not nearly as good as the original, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is a classic example of a film that should have failed miserably on paper, but Carrey is just too damn funny for us not to be charmed a little bit. Even in such a silly movie, I wish more people could appreciate the level of talent Carrey showcases here. The scene that really does it for me though is when the seemingly moronic Ace shows his true genius and reveals who actually stole the sacred white bat, Shikaka. Not only does he give a fast-paced monologue, but going in reverse was just a pleasure to watch.

9. Joel Barish Performance – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004):
I’m cheating here a little bit. Instead of singling out one moment, I went with Carrey’s entire performance as Joel Barish in the mind bending popular Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I’m sure many are surprised it’s this low. But what’s weird about this performance is that it’s almost too good. Barish is such a boring character, and Carrey plays his subdued nature so fricking well, he’s almost to boring to the point where I just didn’t care about him. When you watch Carrey play Ace Ventura and then someone like Joel Barish, how can you not marvel at the man’s range?

8. ‘Hey Pachuco’ – The Mask (1994):
The Mask simply doesn’t work without Jim Carrey. He’s a living breathing cartoon character of pure energy. And while the club scene at the Coco Bongo is certainly different in tone, it desperately tries to emulate one of my favorite movie scenes of all time, Jessica Rabbit singing at the Ink & Paint Club in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. And while it’s impossible to live up to that gem, this moment succeeds in pure elation and fun. Watching Carrey dance like a crazy man with an assist from Cameron Diaz is impressive, and is the iconic image of this film, even more so then ‘Cuban Pete.’

7. Tony Clifton Gets Fired – Man on the Moon (1999):
When Jim Carrey didn’t get nominated for an Oscar for his performance as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon, it really makes you question their sanity sometimes. When you think of how recognizable and iconic Jim Carrey already was at this point, for him to take on this role and completely transform into Andy Kaufman is pretty special. And in this scene, he’s playing a real-life person playing a character! When I first saw this, I quoted and imitated Tony Clifton incessantly. And as much as I love Clifton’s first scene in the movie, this just represents the pure chaos of the character perfectly. When he rings the fire bell and just starts punching air, I lose it. Look at him go!

6. Medieval Times – The Cable Guy (1996):
So The Cable Guy was Carrey’s first true failure, and absolutely destroyed by critics and audiences. But as the years have gone on, tThe Cable Guy has become this weird cult classic. I think the reason is because this was the first non-Carrey-ish performance we ever saw … it was a bit jarring. Now that we’ve seen Carrey do a lot of different things, people can look back at this and somewhat admire his work as The Cable Guy (his character is never named). The Cable Guy is a solid little movie, but the moment in which he and Matthew Broderick battle it out in Medieval Times is more of the classic Jim Carrey, especially when he screams in conjunction with the Star Trek music … just beautiful.

5. Trumania – The Truman Show (1998):
The Truman Show is my personal favorite Jim Carrey movie as I highlighted a while back in my Truman Show Lost Picture Show column. Carrey’s first dramatic turn is an amazing one, but ironically I’m picking the one scene where he’s classic Carrey. But what makes this Carrey moment so good is that it’s so unexpected after watching him play this mild-mannered guy for an hour. It’s like the Carrey moment is truly earned here, making it really stand out. But as wonderful as this bit is, he’s actually fooling us all. Truman says it best at the end of the scene: ‘That one’s for free.’

4. Last Moment with Phillip Morris – I Love You Phillip Morris (2009):
For those who haven’t seen I Love You Phillip Morris, please do. It’s a fantastic film. And this is another one where you say, ‘Really … still no Oscar nomination?’ Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell, a zanier Frank Abagnale Jr, ala Catch Me If You Can. It’s another great blend of comedy and drama, and another performance that I almost acknowledged as a whole like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But it’s Carrey’s last scene with Ewan McGregor’s Phillip Morris that really got to me. This is a man who throughout the whole movie pulled off a countless number of ridiculous shenanigans and stunts, but he saves the craziest for last. And after explaining to the audience how he pulled it off, he finally breaks down to the love of his life, proclaiming to leave it all behind. After all his antics, we finally see Steven in his most honest moment … and Carrey nails it.

3. ‘Finkle is Einhorn’ – Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994):
There are so many moments I could have chosen from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. But for me, this is the character at it’s core. Once he discovers the culprit he’s been looking for is actually a man posing as a woman, and that he himself kissed him, the physical comedy that ensues is priceless. How do you make throwing up in a toilet so damn funny? But it’s actually the tail end of this scene as Carrey shoves all that gum in his mouth that is the real topper. With Hollywood so nostalgia crazy these days, it wouldn’t surprise me if Ace Ventura 3 rumors started cropping up in the next couple years.

2) The Ultimate Revenge – Dumb & Dumber (1994):
I’m salivating for Dumb & Dumber To, and hope that the Farrelly Brothers can conjure up any magic they have left, despite not making a good film since 2000. And while this isn’t my favorite scene of the movie, I do think it’s Carrey’s best. When you watch just how conniving Lloyd is in this scene, and how every little thing he does from the way he snaps the cap off the Turbo Lax, or the way he pours the drink, it’s the type of comedic tension that is hard to re-create. But Carrey’s look as Harry finishes the drink is a look ONLY Jim Carrey could pull off. In the same way Tom Hardy had to act with his eyes as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Carrey does the same for a brief moment as the glass covers his face. Yeah … I went there.

1. Andy Kaufman Discovered – Man on the Moon (1999):
I didn’t really know anything abut Andy Kaufman when this movie came out. I just wanted to see the next Jim Carrey movie. So when I first saw this at 14 or 15 years old, this scene completely floored me. I said to myself, ‘Holy shit, there was a comedian that did this?’ This clip speaks for itself, but the one thing I’ll say is there’s a moment where Danny DeVito’s character looks at him and is blown away, emulating what Kaufman’s manager probably thought when he first saw the real man. Certainly DeVito worked with Kaufman on Taxi, and for me, I always think of this clip as DeVito being blown away at how well Carrey transformed into Kaufman himself.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.