Over the years, Jim Carey has become a controversial figure. With a wild wave of cinematic success during the 1990s and 2000s, he earned his place in the pantheon of comedic legends. His filmography contains many comedic classics, such as “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”, “Dumb and Dumber”, and “Bruce Almighty”. However, the apex of success implies a precipitous fall, especially if a certain kind of comedy falls out of fashion. Perhaps Carey realised that the malleable mimicry of his face and eccentric approach to entertainment will actually be his sentence and executioner, as Hollywood continues to spit out cookie-cutter comedies, giving Carey roles that are essentially the same role over and over. Whatever the case may be, Jim Carey is certainly not a one-trick pony, and began to properly delve into other genres and other characters in the mid-2000s.
The Cable Guy
The Cable Guy is still classified as a comedy, but it’s far removed from the flawed-but-lovable characters Carey is used to playing. The cable guy is a creep, no two ways about it, and the comedy within the film is more sadistic than many were comfortable with. Jim Carey is bold and unapologetic about his performance, which is convincing to an unsettling degree, but it’s kept in line with the genre. Laughter is the most common reaction of the audience. Unfortunately, Carey’s attempts to break his comedic mould were not appreciated. Change, even as minor as the one we see in Cable Guy, is still a change, and human beings are prone to resisting it. The film had proven profitable, but much less so than Carey’s previous performances.
The Number 23
Released in 2007, The Number 23 sheds comedy completely, giving Carey a clean slate to showcase his talent. The film doesn’t have a solid genre footing, mixing elements of drama, a detective story and gothic horror in various amounts. This gives Carey a buffet of acting styles to choose from, since a consistent style is hard to trace in this film, at no fault of Carey himself. On the surface the plot is nothing new – a story about a gradual descent into madness. But that doesn’t make it easy for the actor. The protagonist’s transformation in a comedy is rarely profound, and usually comes in the form of them realising they were a jerk to everyone, and re-evaluating their priorities, shifting them in favour of common societal values. The Number 23 is a story about chaos that’s devouring a mind and destroying lives – a transformation that has a philosophical depth and so requires a new depth of skill from the actor. Yet, the film has a score of 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
A truly fantastic film and one of the most philosophical motion pictures Jim Carey ever participated in. A non-linear drama of a relationship that seems to go in circles, fragmented and overlapping, it is fundamentally simple in its structure. They meet, they fall in love, their feelings wane, they end it like it never happened. It’s nothing like the Carey of old, and yet he is completely convincing, even when he’s not able to utilise his comedic arsenal. It has become a cult classic, and there is much reason to credit Jim Carey for it. With such a portfolio of performances under his belt, it’s wrong to think he is a one-trick pony.