The latest Jim Carrey film entitled “Dark Crimes” casts him as a detective investigating the murder of a prominent businessman. The film was made in Poland and offers a dark subject matter and role for the once former stand-up comedian.
Carrey wanted to perform from a very young age and when he was just 10 years old wrote to “The Carol Burnett Show” offering his services as an impressionist. While his request was politely declined it would only be another decade before Carrey was all over television with his antic comedic act. He ultimately achieved the brass ring for comedians of this era when he got to appear on “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.” In 1984 the 22-year-old Carrey was cast as the lead in a TV series called “The Duck Factory” which was supposed to be a star-making vehicle for the actor. Despite its prime placement on NBC’s Thursday night lineup the show quickly failed. Carrey bounced back with small other roles including the lead in the film “Once Bitten” which was a mild box office hit in 1985.
Carrey had auditioned for the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 1980 when the last remnants of the original “Not Ready for Primetime Players” where departing the show but was surprisingly not cast. While he missed the opportunity to be a part of that sketch comedy show he would eventually find his ticket to superstardom as a cast member of the Fox sketch show “In Living Color.”
He would leave that show in 1994 and find sudden film success in a series of comedies, including “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask” and “Dumb and Dumber.” More prestigious films followed, including “The Man on the Moon,” “The Truman Show” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
Let’s take a tour of the versatile comedian and actor’s greatest 15 movie performances, ranked from worst to best in the photo gallery above.
15. MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS (2011)
Based on an acclaimed children’s book that received a Newbery Honor Award in 1939, this film proved a perfect vehicle for Carrey’s likable comedic presence. He plays a house painter who receives a live penguin as a gift. He then goes to great lengths to raise and keep the penguin happy.
14. EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY (1989)
This comedic musical was the brainchild of MTV personality Julie Brown, who had a series of successful comedy shows on the channel in the 1980s. After a somewhat rocky distribution journey the film was released just weeks after its star Geena Davis became a surprise Oscar winner for as Best Supporting Actress for her role in “The Accidental Tourist.” Carrey plays one of a group of aliens who land on earth looking to date earth women because well, as the title says, they think they are easy.
13. BATMAN FOREVER (1995)
Tim Burton revived the Batman series in the late 80s to great success with Michael Keaton as Batman. Carrey was cast as the fourth major Batman villain, The Riddler. With a change in director and star the film faced lots of hurdles and reviews were somewhat negative, but Carrey does his best to deliver the manic energy needed to play the one of the Caped Crusader’s chief nemeses.
12. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000)
Carrey took on a formidable challenge when he chose to do a live action version of the nearly pitch perfect classic Dr. Seuss Christmas cartoon. The Grinch offered him a great vehicle to use his transformative physical comedy abilities and while the film as a whole didn’t completely come together, Carrey was more than convincing as the famed Christmas hater whose heart eventually grows with the real spirit of Christmas.
11. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS (2009)
Carrey had a change of pace role in this true-life story of a police officer who becomes a conman and ends up in prison. He also leaves his wife in the process and comes out as a gay man.
10. THE MAJESTIC (2001)
This film from the director of “The Shawshank Redemption” is set during the early 1950s blacklisting scandal and communist witch hunt. Carrey plays a writer with amnesia who takes up living in a small town under an assumed identity.
9. DUMB AND DUMBER (1994)
Carrey was on a roll in the early 1990s and this low brow comedy was one of his most popular vehicles. Filled with gross out humor and sight gags, the film also starred Jeff Daniels and is often cited as one of his greatest comedies.
8. PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED (1986)
Kathleen Turner earned an Oscar nomination for this film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Turner plays a woman who gets to travel back to the past and relive her high school days. Carrey plays one of her classmates. The performance is interesting to view since it marks the start of Carrey starting to build a reputation as a potentially serious actor.
7. THE MASK (1994)
Carrey caused a comic sensation as the mild-mannered bank clerk who transforms into a superhero when he wears a mysterious mask. The film mixed Oscar nominated Visual Effects with Carrey in full out manic comedic mode to make it a huge box office hit of 1994. It also marked the first film appearance of model turned actress Cameron Diaz.
6. LIAR LIAR (1997)
After a career misstep with the much maligned “The Cable Guy” Carrey bounced back with this film about a lawyer who is unable to lie (a career imperative for most in that profession) due to his son’s wishing for this. Carrey is a burst of comic energy as he is compelled to say what he really thinks and not able to hold back any of his real thoughts.
5. ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE (1994)
This was the film that made Carrey a movie star. The madcap plot involves Carrey as slightly deranged private detective specializing in finding missing pets. The film was a huge sleeper hit. Carrey’s popularity from “In Living Color” and a strong ad campaign launched the film to box office glory and Carrey into a solid film career.
4. LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (2004)
Carrey had a field day with this adaptation of the popular children’s book series. Carrey plays (in grand style) Count Olaf, an out of work actor who becomes the guardian of three wealthy orphaned children. He is after the children’s money and the kids scheme to stop his sinister plans with the help of their Aunt played by Meryl Streep.
3. MAN ON THE MOON (1999)
Carrey famously tried to totally transform himself into the late comedian Andy Kaufman for this biopic by staying in character throughout the film’s shoot. Kaufman was a unique stand up comedian and costar of the sitcom “Taxi” who rose to fame for his provocative and often controversial antics. Carrey captured Kaufman perfectly in the film, but surprisingly after winning a Golden Globe as Best Comedy Actor he was left off of the list of Oscar nominees.
2. THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998)
This innovative film was quite prophetic in its anticipation of reality television and social media. Carrey stars as a young man who thinks he is living a normal life but instead he is really a character on a television show. This was another year where Carrey won a Golden Globe (this time as a dramatic actor) but was overlooked at the Oscars, which was a major shocker.
1. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
This haunting inventive work from the always unique mind of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman cast Carrey in as a man involved in a new form of mind alteration where unpleasant memories can literally be erased from your consciousness. Kate Winslet had the flashier role as the woman Carrey has had erased from his mind and she earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her work. Carrey though is equally good as the more introspective of the characters who is having just as much trouble moving on from the relationship as the more outwardly emotional Winslet is.