I've been an Andy Kaufman fan for quite a while now. True, I was around six when Andy died. But somehow this strange man was able to affect both my work and outlook. So needless to say I was looking forward to this film. And I was not disappointed.
Critics complain that while engaging, this film does not let the viewer in on who exactly Kaufman was. It's simple: there was no real Andy Kaufman. He was socially inept, utterly brilliant, and a strange and distant individual. His sense of humor (if he even had one) was not for everyone to understand. THAT WAS THE POINT. So why should a film spoil the mystery? MAN ON THE MOON was as an homage to Andy, NOT an explanation, and far better than those dull, lifeless documentaries on E! or comedy central in which uninteresting comedians try to explain why Andy was brilliant. It's common knowledge that explaining a joke renders it humorous (a notion that Andy toyed with in his Foreign Man routine, remember?)
True, some facts were altered for dramatic purposes (though the truth is just as interesting), or maybe just necessity, but the base story is still pretty accurate. Some of the more humorous moments in Kaufman's career were not mentioned (i.e. his stints on Johnny Carson and David Letterman, his work with performance artist Laurie Anderson, his street corner preaching). But lets face it, everything couldn't and didn't need to be included. The film is capable of capturing the essence of Kaufman's world. If you want to see everything Kaufman did, find a recording of it and watch that.
Carrey is brilliant as Kaufman. Some call it an imitation, though that seems overly simplified and absurd. That was an imitation along the lines of Geoffrey Rush in SHINE, or Hilary Swank in BOYS DON'T CRY, or Richard Farnsworth in THE STRAIGHT STORY. Sure, Carrey observes and uses the many Kaufman quirks without a fault, but his observation goes far beyond what any other actor seems capable of. Carrey is Andy Kaufman. So many seem unwilling to admit that Carrey can act.
Taken on it's own, MAN ON THE MOON is a magical, funny, and wonderful film. Taken with the rest of the sources currently available on Andy Kaufman, this is just another facet to a complex career and an homage to a brilliant man.