I had no problem with adding this unknown to the interview segment. Jim Carrey went on with Lauren Hutton...and killed. Warm, quick-witted, a charismatic dude with elastic facial muscles. The camera guys were laughing. When you break up the camera crew, you've struck gold. This funny, fresh-faced, polite new actor had won us over -- well, just about all of us. Our stuffy producer remarked, "He's silly. He'll never get anyplace." Five years later, he debuted on a new Fox TV comedy series called IN LIVING COLOR.
We were so grateful to Lauren Hutton that day at WPIX TV. Few folks recall her 1985 vampire comedy, ONCE BITTEN. But ten years later, Jim Carrey would be one of the biggest movie comedy stars in Hollywood. Millions of moviegoers remember 1994's box office blockbusters ACE VENTURA, THE MASK and DUMB AND DUMBER followed by THE CABLE GUY and LIAR LIAR.
When Carrey goes dramatic, he's extremely effective. His work in 1998's prescient film, THE TRUMAN SHOW, was one of my favorite performances in a film of that year. (If you had predicted in 1998 that we'd one day have a president who was a former reality TV show host with no previous political experience, we'd have doubled over laughing. Watch THE TRUMAN SHOW now and think of America's current state.)
Early in his career, Jim Carrey showed his ease and skill with dramatic material. Did you ever see the 1992 TV movie called DOING TIME ON MAPLE DRIVE? We see the dysfunctions, heartbreaks, secrets and lies of an upscale white family. One son drinks, another attempts suicide because he's a closeted gay. Carrey played the son with the drinking problem. He delivered a stand-out performance.
Early in 2009, Sundance premiered a new Jim Carrey film. Based on a true story, it took a poke at the attitude of the George W. Bush administration. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS has a bold, provocative, funny and praiseworthy performance from Carrey. But the film seemed to have been shelved. Odd, considering the tremendous and profitable movie stardom Carrey had achieved. Two years later, Ewan McGregor -- Carrey's co-star in I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS -- was on GOOD MORNING AMERICA promoting another project and he was asked when his film with Carrey was going to be released nationwide. McGregor didn't know.
I saw it on DVD. I can't recall it playing in any New York City theaters and I can't recall any big promotion for it. I saw it on cable a couple of times a few months ago. I watched it a couple of times because I'm that impressed with it. Especially Carrey's commitment to his character.
I think the film was withheld because, like with the cop buddy/crime thriller KISS KISS BANG BANG with Val Kilmer as a gay L.A. detective, the lead male character is a tough, street smart, openly gay man who is no one's victim. Carrey plays a Virginia Beach cop and family man leading a pretty traditional life -- except when he realizes that he's gay. He's also discovered something about his childhood. A lie that made him an outsider and put a hole in his heart. Well, he comes out of the closet, gets a divorce, relocates to Miami and gets a boyfriend. Then comes another realization --being gay is expensive. The former cop becomes a con man to keep his boyfriend looking good and to keep sending money to the ex-wife and their little girl. By the way, he and the sweet ex-wife remained friends and speak often on the phone.
He winds up in prison, where he runs another racket, and falls in love with a fellow inmate named Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). What I love about Carrey's performance is that he took elements of what his fan base loved in his comedy films such as LIAR LIAR and showed the dramatic side of the antics, the side driven by heartbreak. It's a sexually frank, unpredictable role and Carrey has definite chemistry with the gifted, versatile Ewan McGregor. I never thought I'd swoon at a men's prison cell scene with Johnny Mathis singing "Chances Are" being played as background music.
I'm eager to see him exercise his elastic dramatic muscles in KIDDING.