Jim Carrey’s Top 10 Films
Jim Carrey is a Canadian national treasure.
If you were around in the 80s, you might have seen the rubbery-faced comic on the American sketch show Living Color, or in one of several small-budget films before Carrey launched at full-throttle onto Hollywood’s centre stage in 1994, with a string of big screen, box office hits. Since his first blockbuster, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, he’s been… well, let’s allow Jim to characterise his own meteoric rise with that famous line from The Mask: “Sssssomebody ssssstop me!”.
With more than 50 film roles over multiple decades, Carrey has proved to the world time and again that he tops the pile among the best actors in Canada.
Fans have seen Carrey’s acting chops span from the ridiculous to the heart-wrenching, and everything in between. With such an expansive filmography, it’s incredibly challenging to narrow them down, but we’ve duked it out and reached a gruelling consensus to bring players at Bodog Casino a top ten list of the very best Jim Carrey films.
10. Yes Man (2008)
Down-and-out divorcee, Carl, is a disillusioned bank loan officer who, in a moment of revelation, accepts the challenge of a motivational speaker to say yes! to every opportunity that life sends his way. Hilarity – and plenty of life lessons – ensue.
The fun-loving film is as charming and offbeat as it is heartwarming, and easily carried by an Carrey’s energetic performance, and a solid supporting cast that features Allison (Zooey Deschanel) as Carl’s charming and offbeat romantic interest (see: manic pixie dream girl), and brow-beating buddy, Peter (then-fledgling actor, Bradley Cooper).
And who didn’t feel the urge to seize the day and throw caution to the wind after the wild ride that was Yes Man?
9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Who better to don a grinch suit and shine as the antihero in Dr Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas? Carrey, under the direction of Ron Howard, gave a perfect portrayal of the persnickety character, alongside eternal optimist Cindy Lou-Who (Taylor Momsen).
While a Christmas film that set younger children firmly in its sights was likely never going to appeal to the skivvy-necked critic of print publications, it never really needed to; fans of Carrey’s uniquely exaggerated performances and maximum-volume delivery were naturally delighted to see the grinch’s evolution from grumpy to gracious, and their turnout helped catapult it to the sixth highest grossing film of the year 2000.
8. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Ace Ventura, the eccentric animal detective from Miami, Florida, is on a mission to rescue the mascot abducted from the Miami Dolphins football team – who happens to be an actual dolphin. As the outlandish and absurd Ace, Carrey burst into mainstream cinema like a metal band at Sunday mass. Millions stomped along, but those predisposed to subtlety would need a little longer to appreciate the art of the man.
Directed by Tom Shadyac, this film was the beast that truly launched Carrey’s career, and it was followed by a stampede of box office triumphs in that very same year of 1994 – the first batch of timeless Carrey hits, some of which remain the most notable of his entire filmography.
7. Bruce Almighty (2003)
TV anchor, Bruce Almighty is down on his luck and looking to file a complaint with Head Office – not the network’s, but a level up. After complaining to God (played by Morgan Freeman, but of course), he finds himself in possession of the Big Guy’s powers for an entire week.
Although initially opening to mixed reviews, the film grossed $86.4 million at the box office on opening day, and $484.5 million worldwide overall, making it the highest-grossing Jim Carrey film of all time.
6. The Mask (1994)
Young minds may have had a legacy of nightmares from witnessing Jim Carrey spin into a zoot-suit-wearing cartoon figure with a jutting green jaw, but they were surely visions we’d all tune into for the giddying carnival ride that is The Mask.
Carrey’s hyperactive, larger-than-life screen presence – and Cameron Diaz’s sultry turn in THAT red dress, of course – are what made this film the unstoppable hit that it was with audiences young and old.
The eye-popping – literally – Tex Avery-style visual effects broke new ground, marking the first such visuals in a live-action film. This earned The Mask even more acclaim to add to its multiple film nominations, and Carrey’s zany performance as Stanley Ipkiss wasn’t overlooked either, with his own slew of nominations.
5. Man on the Moon (1999)
1999 marked the year when Carrey won his second Golden Globe for best actor (following The Truman Show), awarded for his portrayal of the late comedian Andy Kaufman in his rise to fame.
Andy Kaufman was more than just a comedian: like Carrey, he was a “performance artist’, but Kaufman’s sense of humour often bordered on obnoxious, despite referring to himself as “a song and dance man. Carrey’s own penchant for musical comedy and an obvious affinity for the absurd allowed the actor to slide into Kaufman’s shoes without skipping a beat.
This role was another chance for Carrey to highlight a deeper side of his acting. It was the first and only film in which Carrey opted to do method acting, and his efforts paid off. His portrayal of the anti-comedian and his idiosyncrasies was uncanny, right down to the famous Elvis impersonation on Johnny Carson. A strong supporting cast shone along with Carrey, with Danny DeVito as George Shapiro and Courtney Love as the incandescent Lynne Margulies.
4. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
We each have our favourite moments in the loveable tale Of Lloyd and Harry (the inimitable Jeff Daniels), as the two bumbling imbeciles set out to return a Samsonite suitcase to Mary Swanson in Aspen. Stupidity never felt so appealing as the pair’s baffling antics saw them dodge would-be murderers, death by hypothermia, and the petty revenge tactics deployed against one another, by the sheer power. The multiple brushes of Death by Dumb would be thwarted by dumb luck at each turn, leaving the audience feeling somehow both a little dumber, and intellectually gifted, but it was Lloyd and Harry’s loveability that was the gift that kept on giving – until the cinematic tragedy that was Dumb and Dumber To, twenty years later, nearly ruined an enduring legacy.
While Carrey’s performance was so good that late critic Roger Ebert claimed the dead parakeet joke “made me laugh so loudly I embarrassed myself”, Daniels was praised for his professional bravery in taking on a role that trashed his legit, dramatic actor’s credentials. The risk was clearly worth the reward.
3. Liar Liar (1997)
“I can’t… lie!” Fletcher Reede: habitual lawyer – excuse me, liar – one day; incorrigible truth-teller the next. And like the stereotypical fast-talking lawyer, Fletcher rarely let the facts get in the way of a good story. His young son, Max, crushed by his father’s broken promise to attend his birthday party, used that one birthday wish to maximum effect.
Carrey’s exuberant performance as the unfiltered attorney had audiences in stitches as his inability to lie in order to advance his client’s interests led to courtroom meltdowns. This was a tale of moral redemption, though, and Max (Justin Cooper) would have his father atone for his previously deceitful ways.
This 1997 classic is the second film that Carrey and director Tom Shadyac worked on together, and it earned Carrey a nomination for the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Comedy.
2. The Truman Show (1998)
As “reality TV” was in its infancy, The Truman Show showed us just where it could lead us if voyeurism were taken to the extreme. Carrey, in the title role, was transformed in Peter Weir’s explorative film that traded outright comedy for an up-beat, and narrative adversity for outright drama. Carrey, as Truman Burbank, was, by his own estimations, an ordinary man who discovers his entire life has been a set-up; his world was a television set, and his audience: the whole world.
Audience immediately loved the more earnest side of Carrey, and the Truman Show pushed the boundaries of how we viewed the actor who was so well known for his slapstick comedy.
His heartfelt performance as Burbank as he discovers the true nature of his world is one of the reasons why he’s viewed as one of the best Canadian actors of all time, and why Carrey won his first ever Golden Globe for Best Actor for the performance.
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
By 2004, we already knew that Carrey could dial back the goof and flesh out roles with more nuance and depth, but Carrey really knocked it out of the park with the would-be Arthouse cult-hit.
With a lucrative name like his bringing all the shades of grey to the helplessly depressed protagonist, Joel Barish, Carrey lifted this brilliantly written script into mainstream movie fodder.
Directed by Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine is overflowing with dreamy visuals, creative editing, and deeply contemplative themes. It was fertile territory for a liberated Carrey to dig down and connect with the full spectrum of on-screen talent you’d expect from the best of dramatic actors, as the darkly comedic turns were left to others.
performance of hurt and lovesick Carrey as Barish who is trying desperately to retrieve the erasing memories of his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet).
This role firmly placed the comedian into the A-list as a versatile and credible actor, and rightfully earned enough critical and audience acclaim to be considered the most definitive Jim Carrey film of all time.
Rarely do we see a performer take us so far along a one-track journey only to slingshot us back in the opposite direction. Jim Carrey’s fame was carved out of his one-of-a-kind comedic genius, but gradually revealed himself to be what he likely was all along: one of the most well-rounded and dynamic actors of our time.
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