Man on the Moon
May 22, 2019
(The Channel Awesome logo and the title sequence play, before going to NC)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. It's time to talk about the biggest letdown!
(A shot of the Game of Thrones title appears in the corner)
NC: Second biggest.
(A shot of the Phantom Menace poster appears in the corner)
NC: One of the biggest.
NC: (slightly annoyed) A bad movie! Man on the Moon.
(The clips from this 1999 movie are shown throughout the review)
NC (vo): Now, you might be saying to yourself, "What an odd movie to pick on." The 1999 biography on entertainer Andy Kaufman may not have been a box office smash, but they got decent enough reviews from critics and audiences praising the life of the legendary comedian and the performances that brought it to life. With game-changing talents like Miloš Forman directing, (The posters for Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest are shown) writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski penning the script, (The posters for The People vs. Larry Flynt and Ed Wood are followed) and one of my favorite childhood idols Jim Carrey bringing a damn good impression to the screen, why does this deserve such a bashing years later?
NC: Well, if you know Andy Kaufman's work, you'd probably saw this as okay. If you know Andy Kaufman's life, you saw this as a huge botched opportunity.
NC (vo): Now, don't get me wrong. I'm aware biographical movies have to take creative license when translating a person's story to the big screen. Ed Wood is one of my favorite movies, despite many parts of it being false. Bohemian Rhapsody has a ton of bullshit in it, but I still thought it was okay. Even Annabelle: Creation, (After the poster for this movie, posters of the previous movies of the Conjuring franchise are shown) the spin-off of the spin-off of the sequel of the "true story" that's clearly 90% horse crap, I still kind of enjoyed. So indulging in cinematic elements that didn't happen, I'm actually okay with. It's a movie; you gotta make an interesting story crammed in a two-hour running time. There's gonna be some changes.
(On NC's right, a person wearing a red shirt and a black jacket (1990s Jim Carrey played by Doug) appears)
90s Carrey: I suppose you want to talk about my documentary where I act like a raging douche.
NC: No, Jim Carrey represented by my bad impression, I do not. Though...why did you act like such a douche?
90s Carrey: Oh, that wasn't me, the fun-loving Jim Carrey everybody adores. No, that was woke-a-crite Carrey.
90s Carrey: My enlightened alter ego that acts like he discovered the meaning of life, but is really using his insecurities to judge people and act like he's better than them. He's over there, actually.
(NC turns his head to the other side to see the present-day Jim Carrey (also Doug), who is so bearded that his mouth isn't even seen)
Present Carrey: Critic, you know you're not really here.
NC: But I am.
Present Carrey: Well, maybe to your eyes, but to my evolved vision, we are nothing but ideas.
NC: (abashed) ...Okay, whatever.
Present Carrey: Oh, and don't ever use a gun again in your reviews.
NC: Don't you use guns in a ton of your movies? (Five shots of several movies starring Carrey are shown quickly)
Present Carrey: Well, that's before I became better than you. Or maybe I'm playing a character right now, I'm so complex!
(NC turns back to 90s Carrey)
90s Carrey: We call it "Russell Brand Syndrome".
NC: (to the camera) No, believe it or not, this actually has very little to do with the documentary that came out about the making of this movie, Jim & Andy.
(The footage of the 2017 Netflix documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond is shown. Note: the clips from it will pop up frequently during the review)
NC (vo): Where Jim Carrey Jared Leto-ed everyone by pestering and even sabotaging the movie set, claiming he was possessed by Andy Kaufman.
NC: That's another can of worms, but it will come up briefly later.
(Back to the clips of the film)
NC (vo): The big issue I have with the movie is that elements of Andy's life were made up, when they simply didn't need to be. The actual life of Andy Kaufman was really interesting, strange, heartbreaking and even charming.
(The footage of Andy Kaufman is shown, and it will also appear at some points in the video)
NC (vo): Kaufman was arguably one of the first big troll comedians, playing with expectations, flip-flopping between making the crowd laugh and annoying the hell out of them, but somehow, he did it with a surreal, yet infuriating logic that somehow made sense, even if it was only to him.
(The shots of Monty Python's Flying Circus and the 1980s Saturday Night Live crew are shown)
NC (vo): While there were big-budget groups that dabbled in similar comedy, this was mostly what Kaufman focused on, inspiring many great comedians to create their own style of anti-humor. So a movie about this man should be both interesting and funny. So why, in my opinion, did it miss what the spirit of Kaufman was about?
NC: Well, let's take a closer look. This is Man on the Moon.
(The movie's opening features Kaufman in black-and-white, in front of the black screen and next to a phonograph, addressing the audience. The following bits will be described by NC, with some exceptions here and there)
NC (vo): The film starts off...honestly, pretty great, with Carrey doing Kaufman's "foreign man" character, warning you that big chunks of the movie had been made up for dramatic effect.
Kaufman: (as a "foreign man") I decided to cut out all of the baloney.
NC (vo): In fact, he hated it so much that he cut it down. In fact, it's a lot shorter. In fact, it's over! He plays the theme to Lassie, and the credits roll. The theme isn't even very long, so he constantly has to start it over, as the credits stop with it.
NC: This is freaking wonderful. A routine Kaufman himself would no doubt really enjoy. (Beat) But then, this happens.
(Kaufman closes the recorder, and the screen smashes to black. After several seconds, Kaufman comes out from the left side of the screen, speaking to the viewers again)
NC (vo): He stops in the middle of it, we look at a black screen of silence for about 12 seconds, and then Kaufman comes out in his normal voice to say it was just a means to get rid of the people who wouldn't understand him.
Kaufman: (smiling) Actually, the movie is really great.
(NC thinks for a bit)
NC: You know, remember when I said I'd go back to that Jim & Andy documentary?
NC (vo): I can't help but think of one line in particular Jim Carrey said when he was Daniel Douche-Lewis-ing everybody.
Jim Carrey: How far should I take this? How far would Andy take it?
NC: (waves hands) Good question, Jim. Well, for starters...
NC (vo): ...Andy wouldn't have stopped the credits halfway through. If anything, he would make them go longer. He'd have that record continue to skip and slow everything down. Maybe the record would scratch and break and he has to get a backup, and the credits would start all over again, but he would play those credits all the way through.
NC: How far would Andy take it? He would have...
NC (vo): ...the Universal logo shine at the end, along with the rating of the film that used to pop up afterwards.
NC: How far would Andy take it? He would try to have every theater that showed this movie...
NC (vo): ...bring up the house lights! Some would be confused and maybe even leave, and he would wait a good two minutes minimum to give them time to exit or leave others to talk about what the hell was going on.
NC: Then, THEN he would...
NC (vo): ...peek his head out, and the story would begin!
Jim Carrey: How far would Andy take it?
NC: That far. That's how far Andy would take it.
NC (vo): So already, from the very start, there's kind of an understanding of what Andy is about, but it's not being presented. Don't get me wrong, maybe this was an idea and the studio said no, saying they could only do the credit bit for a certain amount of time.
NC: First of all, Carrey was so popular at the time... (hesitates)
NC (vo): ...you know, to get away acting like this, but he could have pulled some strings to make this happen, or as far as it could plausibly go.
NC: Second, it's unlikely they ever planned to go all the way with this bit, because the rest of the movie...kinda has a half-assed quality to it.
NC (vo): Maybe it's because they didn't know what they were doing, maybe it's because the studio got in the way, maybe it's because Jim got in the way, but it clearly rides throughout the majority of the film. Take, for example, starting off in his childhood. We see a young Andy performing skits alone in his room, which is totally true. He didn't play with many kids and liked to pretend there was a camera in the walls, which concerned his parents. He's told he needs to play with other children, so he does the exact same thing, just dragging his little sister in, played by Kaufman's real granddaughter, Brittany.
(The clip of the young Andy Kaufman trying an ventriloquist act with his baby sister Carol, played by Brittany Colonna, is shown)
Young Kaufman: The cat goes...
Baby Carol Kaufman: Meow, meow.
NC: So, anyone that's read an Andy Kaufman biography knows what's next.
(The real photos that depict Kaufman's career are shown)
NC (vo): He gets past his shyness by performing at kids' birthday parties; he gets drafted by the military, but fails the psych evaluation; gets addicted to drugs and has a child out of wedlock, giving her up for adoption; and when he was at his most lost, addicted to drugs and loneliness, he completely turned his life around by discovering transcendental meditation. Balancing out the darkest times of his life, allowing him to perform a kid's public access show, where he discovers doing the exact same act for children before adults instead can be surprisingly hilarious, giving him the inspiration to try comedy, which would be a huge defining point in his life.
NC: Or he just goes to stand up.
NC (vo): Yep. All of that skipped, and we just go straight to him being a genius.
NC: How much of that would have translated so well into a movie?!
NC (vo): Failing the military psych test, creating concern for him as a troubled outcast, getting lost to drugs and showing the struggle of him trying to get his life together, having a child and giving her up, showing maybe how he could have longed for simpler innocent realities, and even the almost accidental ways that longing for a simpler outlook created his act and arguably who he is. The essence of where Kaufman's act and Kaufman himself came from explored like any decent biography would do. Nope, just genius now! (in a sad, sarcastic voice) And nobody understands him.
Mr. Besserman: I don't know, Andy. I think I have to let you go.
Kaufman: You're firing me?
NC: This seems a little ironic, because that's Kaufman's actual manager, George Shapiro...
NC (vo): ...playing the part of the club owner in the film. He's confusingly played by Danny DeVito, who was on Taxi with Kaufman.
NC: (rubs forehead) Again, if this movie actually utilized Kaufman's comedy, they would have made a joke about that. In fact...
NC (vo): ...Danny DeVito playing his character in the show Taxi doesn't seem to be anywhere; they just kind of act like he doesn't exist.
NC: Why didn't you make...
(The shot of George Shapiro's head edited on Louie de Palma's head is shown)
NC (vo): ...Shapiro play Danny DeVito on Taxi, and never address it?! In fact, don't even credit him, just say Danny DeVito played himself!
NC: (slams the table) Oh, my God, that would be hilarious, and it would totally keep in Kaufman's humor!
NC (vo; sighs): But nope. DeVito just plays the manager, and they never mention or show Danny as the character on Taxi.
Jim Carrey: How far would Andy take it?
NC: He'd totally avoid a confusing in-joke if he could.
NC (vo): We see Shapiro witness Kaufman's classic "foreign man becoming Elvis" routine, and he decides to become his manager.
Kaufman: I've always wanted to play Carnegie Hall.
Shapiro: (laughs) You're insane! But you might also be brilliant.
NC (vo): As you'll quickly notice, this is not going to be an honest portrayal of the real struggles Andy went through. Rather the Forrest Gump simple beautiful genius who had everything figured out; we just had to catch up to him.
(Various clips from the film are shown)
Kaufman: I want to be the biggest star in the world. / I want to generate my...my own material. I don't want to go for cheap laughs. / It's good old-fashioned entertainment, George.
Shapiro: (to Kaufman) You're so proud.
Lorne Michaels: Some of us at Saturday Night Live think Andy Kaufman's a comic genius.
Zmuda: It's fun, George!
Shapiro: (to Kaufman) They detest you.
Kaufman: We're a success.
NC (vo): All the dialogue around him works this way acting like he's the Mary Poppins of comedy, being five steps ahead, always in control, and leaving us shaking our head, saying, (chuckling) "Oh, how whimsical!"
Kaufman: (skipping around Shapiro) Because I'm gonna do it again, and again, and again, and again, and again...
NC: Look, saying he's ahead of his time is fine. I'm a huge fan of his, and I thought he was ahead of his time.
NC (vo): But treating him like a holier-than-thou poet-rebel-martyr-fop just makes him less relatable. "We can never be like him or understand him, because he was truly perfect." No, he wasn't. And if this movie showed any of his faults, we'd not only see that...
NC: ...but it'd make him and this movie more interesting.
NC (vo): But instead, a lot of the movie is just showing his routines almost in their entirety, even when it's not needed. And, yeah, I know the irony that I said the opening should have gone all the way with a bit, and now, I'm saying they should have scaled back on others, but these are routines you can see anywhere. Many fans already know them inside out, and even non-fans have a general idea of what they were. We're watching a Kaufman movie so we can discover what we didn't know about him, not what we've already seen a million times.
NC: And you know what? If you're gonna do it, show us the stuff we can't see!
NC (vo): On The Dinah Shore Show, he supposedly cracked eggs over her head and they got into a fight. Shore hated this so much that she had the footage burned.
NC: Why not recreate that?
NC (vo): Get it as close as possible so people can not only see how far he pushed it, but also give fans a chance to see how it most likely went down? When the movie does talk about Kaufman's thoughts on his career, they get the basics down. He did hate working on a sitcom and would butt heads with higher-ups about what he can do on his own special. But, once again, other things are changed around for seemingly no reason.
(One clip from the movie shows Kaufman working as a cafe busboy)
Customer: Are you Andy Kaufman?
Kaufman: I get that all the time.
NC (vo): Andy did work as a busboy twice a week, but it wasn't because he was trying to quit Taxi. It was how he stayed creatively active, pretending to get in fights with friends who acted like they didn't know each other, but they acted like they were getting into this big brawl, and afterwards, they would have a big laugh about it. It was keeping himself creatively stimulated in a time where he felt he couldn't do it on air, which would have been interesting to see him cope by doing something unconventional while he's forced to do something conventional.
NC: But here, they act like he's just doing it (makes air quotes) "to protest ABC".
Kaufman: (to Shapiro) I'd rather work here than at ABC. / I am over and out.
Shapiro: You've got a deal with ABC. You've gotta honor it.
NC (vo): This isn't nearly as fascinating as what actually happened. I also don't know how to take him reading The Great Gatsby to a crowd as punishment for them wanting to do his character from Taxi. He would read the entire book of The Great Gatsby as a common form of entertainment, even if the crowd walked out. It wasn't a means of revenge, he just thought it was funny. If anything, even when a crowd was so bad to Andy, he still did the show as planned, saying even though he hated the audience, he still should act professional as possible and give them the show he promised.
(The footage of the old interview with Kaufman is shown)
Kaufman: Those people were so rude out there, and so anyway, I went on and I did what I was gonna do anyway. And I went on with the show, and I did it for them, and I was professional about it, but, gosh, I felt like telling them they were rude.
(Back to the film, where Kaufman leaves backstage from the audience)
Kaufman: Give me the book.
Zmuda: What book?
Kaufman: Give me the book. (The book is given to him) They're asking for it.
NC (vo): The stuff with Andy sleeping around and the Tony Clifton outburst seem to be represented pretty well, and it is nice to see a recreation of him getting kicked off Taxi; again, something I feel like the fans really wanted to see and the movie did deliver on. But again, we have to get a long, drawn-out version of one of his routines that a lot of people seeing the film already know. Only this time, instead of not knowing whether Andy believes what he's saying or not, you know he doesn't believe what he's saying here. When you see Andy taunt women to wrestle, he's portraying it as a person who really believes what he says; where Carrey plays it like he knows he's acting like a jerk, which sucks out a fair amount of the comedy.
(Another interview of Kaufman is shown, shot backstage before he went onto the wrestling ring)
Kaufman: Now, I'm not saying women are mentally, uh, inferior to men, because, uh, when it comes to things like, uh, cooking and cleaning, washing the potatoes, scrubbing the carrots, raising the babies...
(Back to the film; Kaufman is addressing the ring's audience)
Kaufman: Women are superior to men in many ways. When it comes to cooking, cleaning, (The booing and jeering is heard) washing potatoes, scrubbing the carrots, making the babies...
Present Carrey: Uh, but that wasn't me playing Andy. That was Andy playing me. Playing Andy. Playing me. Playing Andy. Playing a virtual character. Ooh, I'm deep!
(NC, with his hands crosses, glumly addresses the 90s Carrey)
NC: I really like original you better.
90s Carrey: So does my box office.
(We go to a commercial. After coming back, we're shown Kaufman wrestling women, having declared himself an "inter-gender champion" earlier)
NC (vo): So in the movie's 25-minute section dedicated to Andy wrestling women and is running with Jerry Lawler, we do at least get a little something the common person didn't know: Andy Kaufman's relationship with his arguably most faithful girlfriend Lynne, played by Courtney Love.
NC: Who I'm not convinced isn't paralleling Kaufman's life sometimes. (The photo of Courtney Love, with her having an almost drunken expression and with her hair wild, is shown)
NC (vo): The scenes are okay, but again, very short, because, again, a lot of the film has to be dedicated to moments you can see anywhere else.
(In the film, Kaufman is on David Letterman's show, having returned from a hospital and finishing apologizing for his wrestling in front of Lawler, but then he goes on to insult Lawler himself)
Kaufman: I mean, you know, what are you gonna do?
(Lawler smacks Kaufman in the head so hard, he falls off the stage, causing havoc in the studio)
NC: You know, it's interesting. Andy kept sleeping around, even though he was in a serious relationship with Lynne.
NC (vo): Lynne would even go on record saying this was very difficult to live with. Wouldn't that be interesting cinema; diving into a part of Andy's life we didn't know?
NC: (waves off) Ah, screw that shit!
NC (vo): Remember when Andy did that? Remember when Andy did that?!
NC: Of course you do! 'Cause you already saw it! Nobody wants to see anything new in a biography!
NC (vo): Now, some of you might be making the argument that this is the point: keeping Andy's life a mystery so we never know the full him.
NC: Well, there's a right way to do that, too.
(The clips from the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind are shown)
NC (vo): In the biography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Chuck Barris' book blended reality with fiction by revealing some things that really happened to him, but then made up a whole bunch of other shit, like he was a professional assassin. The movie version treats it like it all really happened, making it a very unique film.
(The clips from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas are followed)
NC (vo): In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it's legally fiction, but most of it's based on events that really happened, but the film still shoots it like a drug trip, where either option, fact or fiction could be plausible.
(The footage of 1981 TV movie/one-man play Vincent is shown next)
NC (vo): In the movie Vincent, all that is is a great actor reading his diary and showing the places that inspired him to paint. Even though it didn't give many details, it somehow gave me more insight into the person. These are films that tried something different and artistic while confusing you what really happened, something Kaufman's humor was all about.
NC: Have Man on the Moon done something like that, I totally would have respected it just as much as a straightforward biography. Hell, maybe even more.
NC (vo): But this is just routines he's already done with occasional glimpses into his life, which half the time is made up, despite the real story being much more interesting. Take this moment, when SNL asked their audience to vote if they wanted Kaufman to stay on or not, resulting in him getting voted off. This devastates Kaufman, because, in the movie, people don't like him. (Beat) Isn't that...the idea? He does stuff so people don't like him? How does this make any sense? It just comes out of nowhere.
Shapiro: This is Saturday Night Live, the hippest audience in television.
Kaufman: (sounding depressed upon seeing the results in the paper) This is bad.
NC: Well, the truth is, Kaufman was devastated, but not for the reason you'd think.
NC (vo): You see, it wasn't Lorne Michaels who made the announcement, it was producer Dick Ebersol.
(The 1981 footage of Ebersol making an announcement in front of the studio audience is shown)
Dick Ebersol: Andy Kaufman is not funny anymore. (The audience is heard applauding) And I believe you, the audience here, agree with me. (The audience is cheering)
NC: Why does this matter? Because Ebersol made a deal with Kaufman.
NC (vo): They planned the vote, knowing full well that Andy would get voted off, much to his delight. It's what he wanted. But then later, Kaufman would surprise people by returning to SNL. Whether as a hero or a villain is unsure, but he was gonna come back to surprise people in some way. That's what the act was gonna be.
NC: Ebersol, however, never invited him back.
NC (vo): So not only did the TV show that gave him a voice stab him in the back, but worse for Kaufman, one of his jokes would go unfinished. And with his OCD tendencies that even the movie kind of taps on, this must have driven him nuts. That's something we can see him getting genuinely upset about. But here, it's because (in a sad voice) "people don't like him". Well, what did he care?! The whole film, they built up that he loved that, so this makes no sense! So you can't even get down the intent of his comedy half the time!
NC: Oh, and to make things dumber, they have this stupid reveal.
Shapiro: I don't think you two guys should ever work together again.
(After a pause, it's revealed that Jerry Lawler is sitting next to Kaufman)
Lawler: I'm sorry, George. We just thought it was funny.
NC: Yeah, you see the way they edited that, like, they hold on Danny DeVito for a while, trying to make it look like he's talking to Andy and Bob Zmuda, but really, it's Andy and Jerry Lawler? They're like, "Oh, my God! Lawler was in on it! Lawler and Andy planned the whole thing! It was a hoax!" (After a pause, his expression changes into a state of devastation) IT'S WRESTLING!!
NC (vo): If there's anything people didn't need clarification on being a hoax, it was this!! There's no part that shows them planning it out or putting it together, they just wanted us to believe that this was all really going on, I guess. Like, whoa. That was all planned? Sure shocked me! Oh, Jesus Christ. HE ADMITTED IT!
(Cut to another interview of Kaufman)
Kaufman: I would have to say all these nasty things about women, just to get them to come on stage, and just to define...for the audience that the audience should be booing me.
NC: WHY WAS THAT SUPPOSED TO BE A SURPRISE?!
NC (vo): Here's another completely botched moment. Andy is kicked out of his transcendental meditation group, which seems to really put him in a bad funk.
(In the film, the depressed Kaufman is lying on the bed, completely covered by a blanket, save for the head, and Lynne is sitting next to him)
Kaufman: I'm a bad person.
NC: Now, as an audience member watching this, you'd probably be wondering, "Why is this such a big deal?"
NC (vo): I mean, you do see him meditate once or twice, he clearly takes it seriously, but, again, he usually doesn't care what people think. So why is he wrapped up in bed staring at the ceiling over this?
NC: Well, again, if they treated this like an actual bio flick, you would know that he saw meditation as the reason he was still alive.
NC (vo): He said it saved him from the world of drugs and insecurity and brought his life meaning and purpose. So, yeah, he probably would be bummed out being kicked from that, but absolutely none of that is represented here. Whatever big emotional response they could have gotten out of this is completely lost. He doesn't even act sad for very long. Lynne enters the room, and he quickly asks if she wants to move in with him.
(Lynne is lying next to Kaufman)
Kaufman: Do you want to move in with me?
NC (vo): Cut to her moving in with him!
NC: Sad meditation stuff over!
NC (vo): So, yeah, it fails as being both a small deal and a big deal somehow. How do you even accomplish that?
NC: But perhaps the biggest missed opportunity is when Andy Kaufman gets lung cancer.
NC (vo): They skip the scene of him finding out from the doctor, which, I guess, is supposed to confuse us further, and, as you'd expect, his own friends and family don't believe him.
Carol Kaufman: (to her parents at the hospital) He plans these things. He takes over and hires actors. You know, personally, I don't think that doctor guy was very convincing, I mean...
NC (vo): These scenes are done okay, and they do move his big Carnegie Hall performance to 1983, as opposed to 1979, long before he was diagnosed with anything.
NC: Believe it or not, I'm actually okay with this.
NC (vo): Sure, it didn't happen in this order, but it's kind of like (The shot from Bohemian Rhapsody is shown) having the Queen Live Aid concert after Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS. It adds an extra poetic weight to it. It makes the scene better, which is expected for a bio flick. They change around a few things in the show, which, again, is fine, as they're trying to condense it down...
NC: But here's where they drop the ball on an amazing scene they could have had.
NC (vo): As in real life, Andy took the entire audience out for milk and cookies. In the movie, it stops there, but in reality, the people weren't leaving, and Andy needed to tell them "Playtime's over, it's time to go home." He shouted out...
(The footage of Andy Kaufman in the cafeteria is shown)
Kaufman: The show will continue tomorrow at 1 o'clock at the Staten Island Ferry.
NC (vo): People laughed and applauded, and went home. The next morning, his writer Bob Zmuda woke him up, wondering if he was gonna go, and he said the crowd knew it was a joke and nobody would be there. But then he thought about the one or two fans that might have confused what he said for real and show up there all alone, so he got dressed, went to the Staten Island Ferry, and sure enough, there were over 300 people there. Andy was speechless. For the first time ever, the audience had pulled one over on him. People kind of figured out he didn't really have anything planned, but they didn't care. If anything, it made it better. The crowd fooled him for once. He bought the people ice cream cones, sung a few songs, even did a little wrestling. But this was the first time he was fooled by an entire crowd, not because of spite, but because of love. Love for his comedy, love for his work, and love for him.
NC: How epic! Would that have been in a movie, it's pretty much the highlight of the entire flick!
NC (vo): You can make it even bigger! 300? Why not make it the entire crowd that showed up? You've lied about other things, why not lie about this to make the moment even grander and bigger? This could have been the big tear-jerking scene. But instead, we have a different way he was fooled, which also sadly did happen. Andy was convinced that a healer scam artist could take the cancer out of him, but discovers it's bogus. Again, it's not a bad scene, and I kind of like him laughing, as in this version, he discovers it while he's there. But then it just jumps to him being dead.
(The shot of Kaufman laughing softly fades to him dead, laying on a casket)
NC (vo): This dissolve is so weirdly empty.
NC: Honestly, truth be told, a lot of the edits in this movie are.
NC (vo): They don't flow in a natural way; they seem to more stop a scene, rather than end it. It often looks like it's interrupting a moment in the middle, rather than organically transitioning to the next part of the story.
Carol Kaufman: Didn't even have doctor shoes.
(Cut to the office of National Enquirer tabloid, where its head editor stands up from the table)
Editor: No, no, no, no!
(Skip to the later part of this scene)
Female Reporter: He's definitely not dying.
(Cut to the witch doctor at Kaufman's)
(Skip to the scam healer)
Healer: All right.
(Cut to Kaufman doing his "foreign man" act for the last time in front of his fans)
NC (vo): But, seriously, for the grand touchy-feely tone this movie is trying to go for, this Staten Island Ferry scene would have been such a high mark to go out on.
NC: You know what? Screw it. Since you're switching a bunch of other stuff around, why don't you switch those two around?
NC (vo): Maybe have Kaufman go get the false treatment earlier in his sickness, like while he still has hair and everything. He finds out he's been fooled in an awful way, but then he goes home to do the show, where he finds he's been fooled in a loving way. Imagine you just saw that scene, with everyone cheering his arrival to Stanton Island. He's so touched to see all the people there cheering him. They finally fooled him, it's come full circle. And then you dissolve to him in the casket. How much more powerful with that have been? What an incredible contrast of both sadness and joy! However, we get the edit we got, and the film ends with Tony Clifton returning one year later, singing "I Will Survive", never revealing who actually played him. An okay ending to what could have been an emotional powerhouse of a movie.
Present Carrey: But you have to admit, it's what Andy would have wanted! I know, I was him for five seconds just now. (wiggles his hands)
NC: You know, that's another reason I brought up your (makes air quotes) "soul-possessing" performance. If you really cared about representing Andy Kaufman correctly, why don't you focus on making his story more interesting, rather than making your story more interesting?
Present Carrey: Well, I'm...just an actor. I don't have that kind of power.
NC: You stopped production several times on this flick! I'm sure you could have pulled some strings and said, "Hey, maybe we can make this more faithful!"
Present Carrey: Are you saying I made this movie bad?
NC: No! Actually, your acting is pretty decent in this.
Present Carrey: Oh, good. As long as I get attention. (returns to wiggling)
NC: But, like a lot of people who made this movie or even saw this movie, the focus seems to be in the wrong place.
(The clips from the film are shown for the final time as NC states his overall thoughts on it)
NC (vo): Man on the Moon doesn't help you understand an artist or his art any better. If anything, it makes you understand it less, because they change so much of how he performed his art and the reasons why. Like I said before, I wouldn't mind too much if it made for a better story, but Kaufman story was already interesting, and the changes made surprisingly make it boring. It's like they felt they had to put changes in because that's what biopics do, despite the changes not being all that needed in this case. I guess, in hindsight, it's not an awful film. The acting is still good, and there's a few times they start to capture Kaufman's spirit, but it never comes close to going all the way with it. And Kaufman was all about going all the way with a routine, no matter how much trouble it got him in. If you like the film, more power to you. If it got you to look up more about Andy Kaufman, fair enough. Like I said before, I don't really hate this film as a standalone flick, I hate it because of what it could have been, what it should have been. It's not one of the worst films ever made, not by a long shot, but it is one of the biggest letdowns. What should have been one of the easiest stories to make heart-grabblingly touching, fascinatingly weird, or both, turns out an underwhelming "best of" compilation that's not even that great a "best of" compilation.
Present Carrey: You know, maybe I have been trying a little too hard to be deep.
90s Carrey: Indeed. If there's anything Andy Kaufman has taught us, or this movie, for that matter, it's that the best art comes when you're being honest to yourself, no matter how weird you are.
Present Carrey: What do you say, we go back to our roots and just try to bring people joy?
90s Carrey: I would like that.
(Present Carrey crosses his hands proudly)
NC: (chuckles) Well, I can see this turning out just-
(The poster for then-upcoming 2019 Sonic the Hedgehog movie pops up briefly)
NC (vo): Oh, my God.
NC: (clears throat nervously) I'm the Nostalgia Critic, and...I'm afraid we're all gonna remember that.
(He gets up and leaves to his right)
Present Carrey: (offscreen) They're going to do a redesign!
NC: (offscreen, sarcastically) Yeah, yeah, that'll save it.
(The Channel Awesome logo is shown, followed by the credits)