JANUARY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 1


Man on the Moon

The Talented Mr. Ripley: Quality acting wasted in predictable situations.
Any Given Sunday
Magnolia: Expansive exploration of loneliness needed a good editor.

Sleepy Hollow
Anywhere But Here
The Green Mile
Toy Story 2


Short Takes
Grading from A-F

Woody is captured by a toy collector, and Buzz launches the plastic Delta Force to spring him. Trouble is, Woody doesn't want to come back. Pixar's incredible animation surpasses the original and "A Bug's Life", while adding extra goodies this time like human arms with functional elbows. Adult-friendly, and loads of fun for the kids.

- Tim Clifton

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  Man on the MoonJim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Courtney Love

Rating: C

Starring Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Tom Dreezen, Paul Giamatti, Courtney Love. Written by Larry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander. Directed by Milos Forman. Rated R. Running Time: 118 minutes.


A film about, at best, a secondary comedy talent (Andy Kaufman, played by Jim Carrey) who didn't have enough time on this earth to establish himself as a performer or actor must rely on strong characterization to make the film interesting. Unfortunately, the story lets down a strong cast and solid direction.

Carrey does a great job of recreating Kaufman's stage act, which is so familiar from reruns on television. But the screenplay doesn't explore Kaufman's youth or off stage life enough, and the audience is left without any clues to his motivations. The obvious statement that Kaufman blurred reality and fantasy is not earth shaking news.

Much of the frustration that audiences experienced with Kaufman was that his performances were not really comedy and not really acting. And it seemed that Kaufman valued surprise, whether it delighted, alienated or frustrated audiences. Indeed, Kaufman is best remembered for the structured role in an ensemble cast of the television show "Taxi," in which he was funny and accepted. Yet Kaufman frequently refused to play this character in his stand up performances. Go figure.

There are no clues here to really help us out. One has to presume that Kaufman was always "on" and that he was unwilling or incapable of making the distinction on or off stage. The director, Milos Forman, is attracted to contrarian characters who buck the system, having portrayed Mozart as a punk ("Amadeus"), Larry Flynt as a soapbox for free speech ("The People Vs. Larry Flynt"), or a rogue ("Valmont" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"). This theme of conflict of the individual against the system must justify the individual's contributions as deserving of the attention. But Kaufman is not Mozart, Flynt or Valmont. This is not even Man on the Moon. This is Lost in Space.

TIM CLIFTON is Renaissance Online Magazine's staff movie reviewer.

PICTURES copyright © 1999 Universal Pictures.

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