Jim Carrey was born in 1962 and he grew up in Ontario, Canada. While he had several small roles in various films throughout the 1980s, his big break came in 1990 as one of the founding cast members of In Living Color. While the show launched many future stars such as Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, and all of the Wayans brothers, none took off quicker than Jim Carrey. His slapstick characters were an instant hit with US audiences. From there, Carrey’s film career took off, beginning with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective in 1994.
Ironically, he actually bombed in his first stand-up performance. As a teenager in Toronto’s Yuk Yuk Comedy Club, his unique brand of comedy and impersonations did not get a positive audience reaction. He was left doubting his comedic abilities.
Luckily for us, he kept persisting. He has since become one of the biggest comedic box office draws in Hollywood. While many of his movies have a slapstick element to them, he has shown much more depth as an artist and this list of films demonstrate his range as both a comedic and a dramatic actor.
Below are 11 Best Jim Carrey Movies:
1. The Truman Show
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. The Mask
4. Bruce Almighty
5. Dumb and Dumber
6. Liar Liar
7. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
8. The Cable Guy
9. Man on the Moon
10. Yes Man
11. The Majestic
11. The Majestic (2001)
The Majestic is a beautiful throwback drama that harkens to the films of Frank Capra. Carrey plays a blacklisted script writer who suffers amnesia in a car accident. However, he ends up in a small town and is mistaken for a returning war hero named Luke Trimble due to an uncanny physical resemblence. Without memory of his former life, he blends into a new life and love as Trimble and ultimately reopens the town’s movie theater, the Majestic.
As his memory begins to return, he is faced with the ethical dilemma of coming clean with his new family or continuing the ruse as Trimble. While a simple story, the patriotic themes and wonderfully robust characters make it a heartwarming film and Carrey is very good in this dramatic role. This film has a resemblance to It’s a Wonderful Life. However, the narrative is a bit darker than most Capra films.
Not many people have probably seen The Majestic so I felt I should add it as the 11th entry. It is definitely worth checking out. A lot has been written about Carrey as a comedian, but he proves here that he is also a fine dramatic actor.
10. Yes Man (2008)
In this silly comedy, Carrey partners up with Zooey Deschanel, whose cute, somewhat ditzy, but always irresistible screen presence is a perfect compliment to his brand of humor. Yes Man is a romantic comedy, which is not typical for Jim. However, it is both funny and touching and works as a romcom.
Carl (Carrey) is clinically depressed after his divorce and has become a recluse who watches movies at home during his free time. He is talked into attending a motivational seminar by Terrance Bundley (Terrance Stamp), whose motivational philosophy is to “say yes to more opportunities in life.” During the seminar, Carl is singled out. After being humiliated, he agrees to make a change in his life to say yes to all opportunities.
As you can imagine, saying yes to everything is going to lead to some humor. He says yes to taking flying lessons, learning Korean, learning guitar, etc. Along the way, he meets Allison (Deschanel) and falls in love. Later, their relationship is put to the test when he is detained as a potential terrorist (because of all the strange courses he is taking) and has to admit he is saying yes to everything. Allison questions whether she was just another whim that he was saying yes to.
This is a good movie that doesn’t use Carrey’s traditional sense of comedy. It is a good mix of humor and romance that will keep you smiling in the end.
9. Man on the Moon (1999)
Man on the Moon is a biopic about Andy Kaufman, the eccentric 70s comedian. While this is more of a drama than a comedy, some of the scenes are quite funny, especially the early SNL scenes where Kaufman breaks out on the scene with his crazy drum act.
Carrey is eerily brilliant in recreating Kaufman and his exceedingly odd comedy and lifestyle. It is clear that he has a healthy respect for Kaufman and his talents; it shines through in this role. This film demonstrates Jim’s wide range as a dramatic and comedic actor.
It was unfortunate that he was not nominated for an Academy Award for this role. 1999 was a tough year for the Best Actor category as it included Kevin Spacey for American Beauty, Russell Crowe for The Insider, and Denzel Washington for The Hurricane. However, Carrey did win the Golden Globe for Best Actor for this role.
8. The Cable Guy (1996)
The Cable Guy is not your typical humorous film. It is a dark comedy about complete madness. As such, it can play with your emotions. You can feel guilty laughing at Carrey’s character. He displays a depth of acting in this film that we don’t see in many comedies. He is quite believable as a man at the fringe of society dropping into the mental abyss.
By the way, the cast of this movie is outstanding. Matthew Broderick is great at working as the straight man and his facial expressions make many of the comedic scenes. There are also cameos by Jack Black, Owen Wilson, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Ben Stiller, and Andy Dick. This film is a must see.
7. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
After bursting on the comedy scene with In Living Color, this was Carrey’s first leading movie role and made him an instant box office success. This film has a simple plot but it features comedy with excellent delivery.
This movie is a non-stop romp of pratfalls, one-liners, and priceless facial expressions. For two hours, you can forget about the world and its problems while you laugh uncontrollably at Ace Ventura and his antics.
This is worth checking out as the film that started a career.
A 1994 Appearance on David Letterman
6. Liar Liar (1997)
Liar Liar is a traditional Jim Carrey comedy that combines his slapstick, verbal, and facial schticks into a hilarious romp. He plays an attorney who can only tell the truth after his son’s wish comes true. Hilarity ensues as we see how we take all the little white lies we tell for granted as we try to avoid hurting the feelings of others.
This is a well-written comedy movie and is well-suited for Carrey’s improv antics. It is definitely one of his top movies and a lot of fun for the whole family.
5. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
I have to admit upfront that this is not one of my favorite movies. However, it is highly ranked by both Rankography members and most Carrey fans. If you have not seen Dumb and Dumber, you should give it a shot. It is a very original comedy and is a cult classic that is viewed over and over by many devoted fans.
Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey play very stupid best friends that end up on a cross-country adventure chasing a woman. They end up thwarting a crime in spite of themselves.
It is slapstick and sophomoric, but there are many great and memorable one liners throughout the film. Ask any fan and they will start rattling off 10-12 of them.
4. Bruce Almighty (2003)
Bruce Almighty stars Carrey as Bruce Nolan, a newscaster in Buffalo, New York. Jennifer Aniston also stars as his fiancé. When Nolan complains to God about all the bad breaks in his life, he ends up in a life-changing meeting with him (Morgan Freeman). God is exhausted from granting all the worlds wishes and convinces Nolan to take over his powers for so he could take a much needed vacation.
As you can imagine, having God-like powers is going to create some comedy. These powers offer Nolan the opportunity to get back at anyone that has wronged him in the past and some of these punishments are downright hilarious.
This comedy is well-written and very funny. It is definitely one of Carrey’s best films.
3. The Mask (1994)
One of the more original entries on the list, The Mask is both a comedy and a superhero adventure film. Stanley Ipkiss (Carrey) is a pushover bank clerk who is transformed into a superhero when he discovers and dons an ancient mask. Of course, he ends up at odds with a local gangster, Dorian Tyrell (Peter Greene), when he falls for Tyrell’s girlfriend, lounge singer Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz). Tyrell makes it his mission to destroy Ipkiss and the Mask.
This was a perfect film for the actor’s early slapstick character-based comedy. His facial expressions and antics made this one of my favorite comedy movies.
The Mask was nominated for an Oscar for Best Special Effects and you will see why when watching this film. Keep in mind that it was made in 1994, long before CGI was a household word. They were able to blend live-action and animation in a way not seen before. Carrey is sensational in this movie and this is a must-see film if you are a fan.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a complex drama film that really requires a couple of viewings to catch all the nuances. However, it is a triumph for Carrey in a dramatic role. The story follows a couple with a tumultous relationship. When Joel Barish (Carrey) discovers that his longtime girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet), undergoes a procedure to erase him from her memory, he is heartbroken and decides to undertake the same procedure. However, while viewing memories during the procedure, Joel changes his mind and much of the film follows him trying to hide away memories within his mind to avoid losing Clementine forever.
It is a poignant film that explores the intricate ups and downs of a relationship and how much work is involved in maintaining one. Overall, this film is very much a must-see.
1. The Truman Show (1998)
The Truman Show is my favorite Jim Carrey film and I am pleased to see that it was ranked best on the blended average ranking. What is truly amazing about this film is that it was released in 1998, long before reality television dominated our airwaves. It is almost as if director Peter Weir and writer Andrew Niccol were given a glimpse into the future and created this film as a warning to us all.
The Truman Show is a beautiful film that takes reality television to the extreme and tells the story of Truman Burbank (Carrey), who has unwittingly been the subject of a reality show throughout his life. His reality is actually just a show for the rest of the world. Obviously, we have not yet taken reality television to this extreme, but it is clear that we have not heeded any of the warnings presented in this film and continue to push the envelope of reality TV.
Jim shows us a wide range of dramatic ability throughout this film, first as a mild-mannered average guy and later coming to grips with signs that his life might not be real. He ultimately deals with the devastation of learning that his whole life was a farce for television viewers. I think this is an important film with wonderful dramatic performances by Carrey, Ed Harris, and Laura Linney.
The film was nominated for three Academy Awards; Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Harris).