Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is being released to all of the physical media formats on August 10, including a very spiffy JB Hi-Fi exclusive Blu-ray. This seemingly instantaneous sequel to the first instalment (2020) was a box office smash and further solidified Jim Carrey as a cinematic treasure.
His performance as the maniacal Doctor Robotnik in both Sonic movies was something of a comeback for the iconic actor, who had previously stepped away from the limelight to focus on his mental health and overall wellbeing. But could this be his final big-screen performance? Quite possibly. In various interviews during the Sonic 2 press-junket, Carrey claimed that he was done with movie-making, and would again be walking away from the profession.
Whether he makes good on his word remains to be seen, and we will live in hope that it was only a brain-fart or a silly pie-crust promise. After all, he has spoken facetiously before, and toying with journalists is one of his favourite pastimes.
Whatever the case, we love an excuse to back-track on actors’ careers, so let’s take a look at five of the best Jim Carrey performances. As with all things, any list of favourites is a matter of perspective, and in this instance we have tried to select films which showcase his versatility and overall range.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Originally written as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective proved to be a star-making movie for Jim Carrey and catapulted him to the heights of Hollywood. Until this point his career had been a series of supporting roles (including The Dead Pool, Once Bitten, Earth Girls Are Easy), as well as his role as the “token white guy” on he Wayans Brothers’ sketch comedy tv show In Living Color.
Carrey agreed to make Ace Ventura: Pet Detective on the condition that he could re-write the script to be as zany as he wished, and for the character himself to be proficient at his chosen profession. Although thematically problematic by modern social standards, Ace Ventura is a product of its time and brilliantly laid the foundation for one of Hollywood’s most celebrated careers.
Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Directors the Farrelly Brothers had cast Jim Carrey in their first feature film Dumb and Dumber at the studio’s behest, before having seen Ace Ventura. It was only after production had begun that they realised their good fortune in having him on board.
Along with the fortuitous casting of Jeff Daniels as Carrey’s co-star, the film went on to become one of the most iconic comedies of all time, with a legacy that speaks for itself. Carrey’s performance is phenomenon: there isn’t a single wasted second on screen, while each gag and every expression is brilliantly measured for maximum impact.
It all goes into making Dumb and Dumber one of the most side-splitting hilarious movies of all time, and we wager few would disagree!
The Truman Show (1998)
Following a string of back-to-back hits such as The Mask (’94), Batman Forever (’95) and Liar Liar (’97), Carrey was cast in Peter Weir’s The Truman Show, about a man born and raised inside a giant television studio under the guise of a ‘social experiment’. Released at a time when reality television was on the rise and viewers were becoming emotionally invested in the new format, the film was a scathing satirical commentary on a disturbing new brand of entertainment, and the corporate consumerism attached to it.
The Truman Show is also notable for being Carrey’s first dramatic performance, and although he had demonstrated a knack for darker material in the hugely underrated The Cable Guy (’96), this was his first proper tug at our heart strings. It’s proven over time to be one of the most memorable and affecting performances of his career.
Man on the Moon (1999)
Considered by plenty to be the performance of his career, Jim Carrey’s portrayal of the legendary comedian, Andy Kaufman, is a tour-de-force and should have earned him an avalanche of accolades at the time. The film was widely overlooked by mainstream audience until the recent release of Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond; it’s a jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes documentary which reveals the extreme depths of method acting Carrey sank to in order to squeeze the most out of his performance.
Directed by Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus), the film is as eccentric as its subject himself, and although Carrey is very funny in it, there’s very little of the actor’s trademark personality to be found. Instead, he channels Kaufman’s personality and adopts his persona, and offers up what can only be described as an existential, out-of-body experience.
Me, Myself and Irene (2000)
Me, Myself and Irene is arguably the most interchangeable movie on our list, but we’ve chosen it based on Carrey’s performance alone. His re-teaming with the Farrelly Brothers for their fourth feature film is a crude, mostly vulgar venture into comedy (not that there’s anything wrong with that!); it’s also a perfect example of Carrey’s precision, razor-sharp wit, and ability to transition right before the viewer’s eyes.
Like Ace Ventura, the film is somewhat problematic and should be viewed with a generous amount of contextual understanding, however when broken down to the bare basics of performance, Carrey’s interpretation of a split personality is a wonder to behold. The actor flips from introverted nice guy and all-round pushover, to aggressive, arrogant extrovert within the blink of an eye. It’s truly astonishing, and worth the investment alone.