Jim Carrey has starred in some of the most iconic comedies of all time from Ace Ventura to Dumb & Dumber but turned some heads when he decided to take on more dramatic roles. Over the years, many comedians, from Robin Williams to Adam Sandler, have made the jump from comedy to drama. Some have succeeded while others probably should have stayed in their lane.
However, Jim Carrey’s transition from zany off-the-wall comedy to drama is one of the more famous and successful actor career moves. When Jim Carrey started making more dramatic films, it was a big deal. Audiences were skeptical that the crazy comedian could pull it off. While several of his more dramatic fares weren’t hits among critics or audiences, a few of them have become classics.
10 The Number 23 (2007) – 8%
Reuniting with his Batman Forever director, Joel Schumacher, Jim Carrey stars as a man obsessed with the connections between tragic events and the number 23. The film was Jim Carrey’s first psychological thriller and even allowed him to play a dual role.
However, the film failed to connect with audiences. Critics labeled it as one of the worst movies of that year and one of the worst movies of Jim Carrey’s career. It would also be Joel Schumacher’s last movie to get a wide theatrical release.
9 Dark Crimes (2016) – 24%
Inspired by true events, Jim Carrey plays a detective in Poland investigating the connection between a writer’s novel and an unsolved murder.
Critics panned Dark Crimes upon its limited US release with much criticism directed toward the film’s pacing, tone, and even Carrey’s poor polish accent. Jim Carrey replaced Christoph Waltz in the lead and it ended up being a role Carrey probably should have turned down.
8 The Majestic (2001) – 42%
After directing classic Stephen King adaptations like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, Frank Darabont directed this McCarthy-era drama about a blacklisted-amnesiac-screenwriter, mistaken for a town’s long-lost WWII hero.
Carrey tapped into his inner Jimmy Stewart for this Frank Capra-influenced film and while critics praised his performance, they criticized the film’s length and for being overly sentimental. The Majestic grossed $30 million on a $72 million dollar budget, making it a box office flop.
7 Simon Birch (1998) – 44%
Jim Carrey narrates this adaptation of John Irving’s “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” and bookends the movie as the titular character’s grown-up best friend, played in flashbacks by Joseph Mazzello. The story revolves around the unlikely friendship of a boy and his best friend, Simon, born with dwarfism.
Carrey was only glimpsed at in the trailer and was left off most marketing materials which surprised audiences who didn’t expect to see him in the movie. Mega-star Carrey’s inclusion in the film couldn’t help the box office, as it bombed and critics panned it for trying too hard to tug at the heartstrings.
6 The Bad Batch (2017)- 47%
Jim Carrey stars in this dystopian thriller about a young woman dispatched into a desert wasteland where she must fend off an array of mysterious inhabitants and cannibals.
Jim Carrey is almost unrecognizable in a very small role as a mute hermit the lead character encounters along her way. The movie had a limited release in 2017; critics praised the visuals but criticized its unnecessarily long length.
5 The Cable Guy (1996) – 54%
Directed by Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey stars as Chip Douglas, a cable guy raised on, and obsessed with, television. He gets too close for comfort with his customer played by Matthew Broderick and pushes an unwanted friendship on him. The Cable Guy was considered a departure for Jim Carrey and very controversial upon release. The studio marketed the film as a comedy, but its dark tone surprised audiences. The film probably wouldn’t be considered that dark by today’s audiences, but in 1996, this was a big deal.
For The Cable Guy, Jim Carrey commanded a-then-unheard-of $20 million paycheck, setting the standard for stars’ salaries for years to come. Despite being a box office success, critics panned the film upon release. The Cable Guy was initially regarded as a disappointment by fans and as Carrey’s first major career misstep, but it has since become a cult classic.
4 Man On The Moon (1999) – 63%
Jim Carrey stars in this Milos Forman-directed biopic of the late comedian, Andy Kaufman. The film chronicles Andy’s life from avant-garde comedian to star of the hit show Taxi, as well as his controversial persona as wrestler and performance artist.
Carrey disappeared into the role of Andy and famously remained in character on and off-screen. Although the film was neither a critical or commercial success, Carrey won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy. Many believed an Oscar was likely, but he was ultimately not even nominated, sparking debate as to whether the Academy has a dislike for comedians-turned-dramatic-actors.
3 Kidding (2018 – 2020) – 88%
Jim Carrey stars in this Showtime original series about a Mr. Rogers-esque children’s television show host named Mr. Pickles whose personal life is a lot more tragic than the positive image he presents on-screen.
The show marked yet another departure from Carrey’s trademark silly antics and, instead, reflected issues he’s been open about battling in his own life, like depression. Reviews were very positive with critics praising the show’s “poignant examination of grief.” However, Showtime canceled it after two seasons due to low ratings.
2 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – 93%
Directed by acclaimed director Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman, Jim Carrey stars as Joel Barrish in this modern classic. The story revolves around a man so depressed over his break-up with Kate Winslet’s character, Clementine, that he hires a company to erase all memories of their relationship together.
Critics and audiences lauded the film as original and inventive, singling out Carrey’s performance as being “the most honest, vulnerable work he’s ever done.” Eternal Sunshine was not only a box office success but it gained an enormous cult following in the years since its release and is now considered one of the best films of the 21st century.
1 The Truman Show (1998) – 95%
Similar to his decision to cast comedian Robin Williams in the drama, Dead Poet’s Society, director Peter Weir took a chance and cast Jim Carrey in this iconic film. Carrey stars as Truman Burbank, an ordinary man with big dreams who discovers his whole life is a television show being broadcast 24/7 all around the world. The film was a breakthrough and a game-changer for Carrey, proving he could tackle dramatic material as well as comedy.
Critics considered the film a masterpiece upon its release and it changed audiences’ perspective of the Ace Ventura star. The Truman Show was an enormous box-office hit and Carrey won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy but was infamously snubbed by the Academy for an Oscar nomination. The Truman Show cemented Carrey’s career as a versatile actor, with the film itself considered a modern classic and one of the greatest films of all time.
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