24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

« Previous | 24 Frames Home | Next »

Jim Carrey seeks a sketchy rescue with 'SNL'

December 20, 2010 |  3:44 pm


It's hard to imagine an actor with a more peculiar career than Jim Carrey. Few comedians have  succeeded in reinventing themselves so many times. And yet none seem as perpetually in a state of uncertainty.

It's a thought that came to mind when Carrey was tapped as a "Saturday Night Live" host for Jan. 8, the first time he's appearing on the show since 1996.

For many years, Carrey fluidly alternated between roles that required dramatic chops and those that made him money — "The Truman Show" and "Man on the Moon" sandwiched between "Liar, Liar" and "Me, Myself and Irene." Or "Eternal Sunshine of the Mind" (which earned him nominations from more than a half-dozen award groups) right after "Bruce Almighty."

But the ability to toggle has failed him lately. After 2005's "Fun with Dick & Jane," Carrey didn't do  mentally unhinged very convincingly in the psychological thriller "The Number 23." After "Yes Man" two years ago, he took on a more beloved character in "A Christmas Carol." That didn't work either.

This season he's turned in one of the more eyebrow-raising performances as a gay con man in "I Love You Philip Morris," a black comedy that about six people have seen and even fewer have embraced. Carrey's trademark wild-eyed and loose-limbed acting manner is on full display, but it gets in the way more that it illuminates or entertains. "[He] never gets beyond his Jim Carrey-ness to let us discover the character," wrote The Times' Betsy Sharkey.

The "SNL" appearance seems like a pretty obvious attempt to get the actor back to his roots. He has no movie to promote ("Phillip Morris" may still be hanging on in a few theaters, barely), so it's really just about the one-time "In Living Color" star showing himself in a way that we came to like him in the first place — as a sketch comedian. (A highlight from his much-embraced first "SNL" appearance below.) And it sets the stage for another return to a safe haven, the actor's summer 2011 movie, the family comedy "Mr. Popper's Penguins."

Carrey should at least be given points for trying to tackle more interesting characters, something fellow broad-appeal comic actors like Adam Sandler don't do nearly enough. It would be a shame if the recent failures would mean Carrey stopped trying, since he clearly has skills. It's just that lately he hasn't been very good at showing them.

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Jim Carrey in 'I Love You Phillip Morris.' Credit: Patti Perret /Associated Press



Comments () | Archives (19)

The comments to this entry are closed.

SNL has sucked so bad for years - except for the few Tina Fey/Sarah Palin sketches from 2008 -- that Jim Carrey is not going to gain anything being on the show. What I've concluded is that what the show is really missing is drugs. It was far better in the 70s and 80s when most of the cast were stoned out of their minds and really pushing the envelope of creativity and edginess. Like so much else these days, it's homogenized and dull.

Love Jim... don't always love his movies...

In one appearance on SNL Carrey played an unhinged lifeguard at a hot tub. I laughed so hard I cried, and couldn't breath until I fell off the couch. Gimme some of that and I am in!

Let us not forget Lemony Snicket and the Grinch - if you have children, in all likelihood you've continued to talk about and re-watch those examples of what Mr. Carrey can do - make you laugh really hard. A bit harsh to reduce the titles and jump back to "In Living Color, " But, fair points all. Luck, as always, has and will have a bit to do with what we see from someone clearly driven in a unique way -

I am such a fan of Jim all the way thru the years..even his bad movies have their worth to watch it- moments. I personally love Phillip Morris, thought it was drastically different, shocking to see him in this role.. making it fabulous!
fire marshall bill is epic and SNL would be lucky to get him on there show that I agree could use some serious help!
@laworker hilarious and i agree!

Jim Carrey plays in such horrible rolls . He should of just made 10 Ace Ventura Movies and another 5 Dumb and Dumber movies that's all hes good for. I hope he can stop making movies finally.

To be fair stevie...I Luv You Phillip Morris is only on 33 screens in the usa.
i saw it & would give it a c plus. he does a "good" job. have u even seen it?
or did u dance over to Black Swan (98 screens)?

I don't exactly disagree with the assessment of Carrey's career lately, but it is unfair to criticize him for how few people have seen "I Love You Phillip Morris" when it's playing on a scant handful of screens and the only commercials I've seen have been on Logo.

I applaud Jim Carrey for the risks he has taken, and for pursuing his artistic muse. Not all of his films have succeeded, but he has so many more hits than misses, and doing SNL will just remind everyone of the comedic genius he still has.

Jim's best performances have been when he's completely lost himself in a role. Eternal Sunshine and Man on the Moon were Oscar-worthy performances. Robin Williams, Bill Murray and Steven Martin are wacky and can act, too. But they seem to have a better eye for the right role. Please, no more Number 23's. As far as his personal life, he should get with Sandra Bullock and get it over with.

"...Carrey didn't do mentally unhinged very convincingly in the psychological thriller "The Number 23." After "Yes Man" two years ago, he took on a more beloved character in "A Christmas Carol." That didn't work either."

It (they) worked well. You just didn't like it, Zeitchik. Sometimes a film is to unwind and relax - you think too much.

Jim Carrey is the man! I can't wait! Given the terrible seasons SNL has had recently, I think they have more to gain from his hosting than he does. Hopefully it'll be a lot of fun. By the way, he is excellent in I Love You Phillip Morris, which was never meant to be a blockbuster anyway given that it only ever played in a handful of theaters. There were a lot of people in the theater when I saw it last weekend.

If Jim Carrey's career is on the skids he's got it coming to him. Let no one forget what a genuine scum-bag this 'comic' is. Kindly recall the way in which he dumped his first wife, a native Canadian like Carrey himself. The woman, the mother of his children, who enabled Carrey to succeed as a comedian, true blue, and working crappy waitress jobs keeping the family together for years. Then when the jackpot was within reach, and Carrey was about to sign a $7 million dollar contract after Pet Detective or one of those other films, guess what? Carrey filed for divorce, THE DAY BEFORE HE SIGNED THE CONTRACT. That way he was exempt from California community property laws. The ex got maybe half of a million dollars, but Carrey kept the real payday. This guy is a 40-karat prick with a capital P, for cutting his first wife's throat, especially since he would have been zilch without her. Career problems? Terminal cancer? He deserves both of them in spades. Oh yeah, don't bother to respond defending this jerk. He is the text book example of bad karma.

Terrible Season?! But, they just had Cookie Monster on singing with Jeff Bridges! What could be better than that?! Om nom nom

Actually SNL has ALWAYS been hit or miss. The original gang had their share of misfires.

And remember, no matter how I die, even if there is a note.........It was MURDER!

Shawn, do your research. I Love You Philip Morris is in 49 theaters this past weekend, its widest release yet.

I haven't seen all Carrey's works, but I did like him in "Ace Ventura" and "...Spotless Mind."

However, his magnum opus is "The Truman Show."

"Truman" is a very nearly perfect film with excellent work from a perfect ensemble cast. Carrey was perfect as Truman and was reined-in just enough to get the full range of his silliness at just the right amplitude.

If he never does anything else, he will always be remembered as "Truman."

SNL has really lost its edge. The Seth Meyers thing is the worst but the other skits are mostly dull and dismal. The entertainment is usually horrible. Sorry, but Jim Carey will not do much for himself appearing on SNL.

Adam Sandler is a dork. He is a one dimensional schmuck. Carrey on the other hand, is an ACTOR. I loved all of his movies. He should have won an oscar for Man on the Moon. People haven't seen I Love You Philip Morris because theaters are homophobic and won't show it such as here in Sarasota. I wanted to see it but where is it???? I guess I will wait to buy on DVD.

Sadly, only an audience on drugs would laugh at SNL material these days. What is wrong with Lorne Michaels that he let it degenerate into predictable mediocrity?

"Thank you, I'm so happy to be hosting SNL for the 413th time. I'm not here to shill anything. Perhaps some of you saw me in my new movie, 'I Am Not Funny Anymore But The Studio Paid Me $20 Mill to Remake What a Dead Actor Did Better Before'. "

etcetera. The writing could be done by a robot, and perhaps it is. How can SNL have so many names on the writing staff and yet consistently produce such a high volume of unfunny material? Is the fault in hiring talent? The senior editor? Is there lead in the SNL staff drinking water? Clearly there is something very wrong at a high level on the show.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: