Man on the Moon

Man on the Moon is the story of one of the strangest performers every to appear before the public

Rarely, a film comes along that invokes my actual memories of the events it depicts. Apollo 13 was one such film. The latest Milos Forman film, Man On The Moon is another. I clearly remember many of the sketches of Andy Kaufman that are presented in Man on the Moon. The performance was so true to Kaufman’s that I felt as if my memories were being presented on the screen.

Man on the Moon is the story of one of the strangest performers every to appear before the public. Andy Kaufman was a performance artist way before such was popular. He sought to get an emotional response from the audience even if the emotion stimulated was hatred. Man on the Moon chronicles the wild and weird life and comedic style of Andy Kaufman. He always sought to keep the viewers guessing whether he was kidding or for real. Perhaps the most notable case was his wrestling women. Andy Kaufman would make the most sexist remarks possible and then bully any woman that would enter the ring. This set off a feud between Andy Kaufman and pro-wrestler Jerry Lawler. Their highly public fights were the grist for many a tabloid mill. Andy Kaufman even kept those closest to him guessing.

As typical of a Forman film, the casting here is near perfect. Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman is the only choice possible. Carrey did not seem to portray Andy Kaufman he became Andy Kaufman. In an interview with the director Forman stated that "Jim only came to the set twice, the rest of the time Andy Kaufman was there." Carrey brought the character to life once again. His every movement, facial expression and vocal inclination was pure Andy Kaufman. Courtney Love played his girlfriend. As with her previous role in Forman’s The People vs Larry Flynt, she plays the woman devoted to her man no matter how misunderstood, hated or unusual he is. She can act better with a single glance than many actresses can in a whole movie. Danny DeVito did not play himself in Man on the Moon making him the only one of the Taxi cast that did not. Instead he chose the more central role of Andy Kaufmans belabored agent. He had to talk Andy Kaufman out of trouble more than he had to talk him into roles. DeVito shows a depth of character here more than that of any other film I have ever seen him in.

The director Milos Forman is a genius when it comes to presenting the life story of a strange and unusual man. He shows not only the public Andy Kaufman but the private one as well. His use of lighting, set design and camera work is exceptional. Many of the comic pieces may drag a bit since the real pieces were groaners, but Forman’s use of the cinematic arts keeps the pace of Man on the Moon always moving forward. I always look forward to any film he directs.

The Man on the Moon disc is exceptional. The audio tracks contain both Dolby 5.1 and DTS. The sound is a bit light in the rear and sub woofer but they do rise to the occasion as necessary. The picture quality is excellent. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is crisp and clear, without any flaw. While there is no commentary track the disc does contain some very good extras. The deleted scenes presented where of the highest quality. All too often deleted scenes are obvious as to why they were dropped from the final cut. Here, the deleted scenes were excellent and you could actually see how they could have been included in Man on the Moon. There were also live performances by Andy Kaufman and a couple of R.E.M. music videos from the movie’s music. The disc also includes several DVD-ROM features. Man on the Moon was neglected at the Oscars but is well worth having in your collection.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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