I’ve always liked Jim Carrey. He has a tendency to get into very caricature-like characters and it can be extremely annoying, but there’s no denying that the guy has talent. He easily goes from dumb comedies to much smarter comedies to very dramatic vehicles. I’ve respected his talent and he sometimes chooses good projects. Here is a ranking of the 10 best movies he’s starred in, whether it be in a lead or supporting role, or whether it be live action or animated.
#10. BATMAN FOREVER
Batman Forever is an extremely underrated movie. It doesn’t scratch the surface of the complexity of Nolan’s trilogy, and it doesn’t really splash the screen with the dark visuals Burton’s previous two films achieved. What it does do, however, is it presents the superhero in a much more comic style. The neon splashed colours act as the most visually stylistic of the Batman movies, and the soundtrack gives it a much needed upbeat rock rhythm that both Burton and Nolan avoided. Carrey’s Riddler is great and it’s difficult to imagine anyone else playing the zany over-the-top flexible villain.
#09. HORTON HEARS A WHO!
Providing the voice of the title character, Carrey brought a lot of life to the already beautiful looking animated film. It took the visual style of Dr. Seuss and actually made it work with CGI, making the humor of Horton Hears a Who! arguably fantastic. The movie has heart, funny side characters and best of all it’s easy to watch for both kids and adults.
#08. THE CABLE GUY
As a kid, when the movie came out, I didn’t like it a lot simply because it was really dark. It’s precisely the reason why I like it now though. The dark humor works perfectly and although Carrey’s performance is still annoying, Broderick equalizes it with a much more subdued comedic turn. The jokes somehow still feel fresh and it’s endlessly quotable (who hasn’t said “caaaaaaable guuuuuuy!” in the ’90s at least once?).
#07. ME, MYSELF & IRENE
It’s the kind of movie that one can easily muck up, but somehow the Farrelly brothers made it work. The general gist of the story seems like something out of an SNL sketch, but there’s so much going on in the movie that it creates a wildly 3-dimensional screenplay with quite a few character developments. The jokes are hilarious (“Well FUCK my ozone!”), Jim Carrey’s physical humour actually sells the character and even though it’s probably a movie I’ve seen the most in my life, I never stop laughing at the Vagiclean scene.
#06. LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
If there’s one intended franchise that should have continued as such it’s definitely this one. There’s as much craft here as there is in any of the Harry Potter movies, the characters are fantastic, and with Carrey’s evil Count Olaf who even steals the scenes right from Meryl Streep, director Brad Silberling created an iconic villain. It’s wildly entertaining, supremely funny and deliciously dark.
#05. LIAR LIAR
The premise of Liar Liar seems somewhat juvenile and unimaginative but the way it’s handled makes it really work. The jokes aren’t empty — they actually serve a purpose with themes sprinkled throughout without bashing you over the head. Carrey’s performance is probably his best comedic one, and the central heart of the story tonally turns down the over the top situations the characters get into.
#04. THE MASK
The Mask is definitely a classic ’90s comedy. It’s so iconic that I find myself still quoting it, and it turned Cameron Diaz into an overnight sensation. Carrey allows himself to sink into his face stretching physical humour with a purpose, and it makes the character he portrays so much more layered. The visual effects still hold up, and it’s easily one of the most re-watchable movies from that decade.
#03. I LOVE YOU, PHILLIP MORRIS
Probably the biggest surprise for me in 2010, Phillip Morris is an example of how to make a really good movie out of a true story. Though Ewan McGregor easily steals the show (and cements himself as a brilliant character actor), Carrey carries (heh) the entire movie right on his shoulders, and he does it brilliantly.
#02. THE TRUMAN SHOW
The Truman Show is easily one of the best movies ever made, and certainly one of the most original. Many movies have tried to replicate the premise but failed miserably, which gives director Peter Weir a massive artistic advantage. It’s the first time Jim Carrey took on a serious dramatic role, and it worked perfectly, making his performance in this probably his best yet. Everything about the movie is perfected and the emotional ending hits me in ways very few movies have been able to. I was contemplating putting it first but I had to settle for it being the runner up.
#01. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
It’s really difficult to articulate the brilliance of Eternal Sunshine in one paragraph so I’ll just state the obvious and say it’s Carrey’s best movie. Actually, it’s also Kate Winslet’s best movie, and possibly Charlie Kaufman’s best screenplay. On the surface it’s a sci-fi love story but beneath that there is so much happening that it’s only possible to really grasp everything by watching it multiple times. Even now, after having seen it about a dozen times, I find new things each time I watch it, and everyone’s performance in it grows on me more and more. It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Kaufman writing this and Michel Gondry directing it, because the surrealist visuals and ideas make it one of the most beautiful, heartfelt and genuinely brilliant movies I’ve ever seen, and I have no regret in saying it’s a classic.