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Reviews for the week of December 27, 1999.

Monday:
Man on the Moon

Man on the Moon
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Man on the Moon has an interesting premise: A terrific comedian (Jim Carrey) playing another very famous comedian, Andy Kaufman.

This "based on a true story" film chronicles Kaufman's life as he goes from being a child who loves to pretend he's on TV to a struggling young comedian, and eventually to a successful TV actor (he played Latke on the 1970's sitcom Taxi). From his early days doing standup comedy in clubs (for no pay and poor audience response), Andy insists he isn't a comedian. He doesn't really tell jokes, and honestly, I don't find much of what Andy does, performance-wise, terribly amusing.

Oh, I laughed a lot, and Man on the Moon does succeed at being intriguing, it appeared that Andy was funny because he wasn't. Let me clarify that: the funniest scenes are the ones where Andy can't get the audience to laugh, or the ones from his off-screen life, when he isn't performing.

I did find a few parts of his act entertaining: Andy's long-running TV gag, wrestling women to prove that men are superior, is hilarious. His alter-ego character, an obnoxious lounge singer, is also uproariously laughable. But his stand-up acts - even the successful ones - just weren't impressive. Although his imitation of Elvis is excellent, it isn't comical.

Keep in mind that my opinion of Andy Kaufman as a comedian is based on the portrayal of him in Man on the Moon. Perhaps he was very funny in real life - obviously, he was quite successful, at least for a while. And I'm well aware that film writers can take a creative license with the facts of a person's life! I haven't seen much of Kaufman's work, except for a few episodes of Taxi, so I don't have much room for comparison.

Although slightly disappointed (I thought that this would be one of the funniest movies of all time, since it stars one of my favorite comedians (Carrey) as another real life comedian) I would certainly recommend Man on the Moon as a diverting comedy. Carrey's acting is superb, not only in a comedic sense, but also in the serious dramatic parts of the movie.

Audio VersionOn a final note, Danny DeVito (who co-starred with Kaufman on Taxi) has a notable supporting role as Andy's manager, and rock singer Courtney Love portrays Andy's girlfriend beautifully. Naturally, Kaufman's other Taxi costars cameo as their old selves.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Any Given Sunday

Any Given Sunday
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Normally, I'm not a fan of football movies. Rudy, for example, ranks among the most boring movies I've ever seen.

But I welcomed Any Given Sunday - mainly because it stars so many extremely talented actors - and the camerawork in overlapping shots was tremendous.

While Al Pacino is Tony D'Amato, coach for a football team called the "Sharks", Dennis Quaid plays Cap, an older player on the team who suffers a serious back injury at the beginning of the movie.

Cameron Diaz is Christina Pagniachi, the Sharks' wealthy, and icy owner. She gets what she wants - and she wants Tony to quietly get rid of Cap in favor of a popular younger player, Willie Beaman, who barfs before every game. (That's the funniest gag in the movie, no pun intended.) Despite puking all over the football field, he happens to be an extraordinarily talented player who incorporates gymnastic type moves as well as one-man touchdowns, but lacks Cap's experience.

When Tony insists that he wants to keep Cap on the team, Christina enlists the aid of the team's unscrupulous doctor, Dr. Harvey Mandrake (James Woods, who is excellent at playing slightly dishonest characters like Mandrake) to help retire Cap.

Soon Willie Beaman spends more time on the field. Success does go to Willie Beaman's head at first, and he becomes an obnoxious ham.

Audio VersionAny Given Sunday is a bit long (a little more than three hours) but the plot kept a good pace. The football games were broken up with enough plot and character development that it never really became dull. You don't have to be a sports enthusiast to enjoy Any Given Sunday.

My Rating = Three Stara

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