What are we to make of Andy Kaufman, after all the years have passed and we see the movie to which so many heavyweight talents have contributed? I really don't know. Man on the Moon is a beautifully wasted opportunity.
I did learn one thing about Kaufman from this movie: that all the wrestling stuff was a put-on. I never was completely sure about that when he was doing it, or even afterwards. The movie tells us that Andy wanted to be the ultimate wrestling bad guy. In fact, we are shown quite a bit about how driven he was to provoke his audience, to get a reaction from them at any cost, not that this wasn't already evident from his body of work. But finally we want to know why, and the movie gives us no clue. I felt entitled to come away with perhaps a little insight into Andy Kaufman. Sure, we get some "behind the scenes" footage, and it's believable, but it never reveals anything we don't already know about the man. Why, Andy? And why Man on the Moon?
It is being said about Jim Carrey's performance that it's a tour de force, and that's true in a sense. He does a masterful job of being Kaufman. But does he ever elevate the character above the public persona, to give us something new? I think not. Maybe that's because, as the character seems to say in one scene, there wasn't anything more to the guy than his public persona, and if that's the case then I have to ask once again, why Man on the Moon? I can watch old Saturday Night Live episodes and wrestling footage any time I want.
A movie needs a little ambition. Maybe it's not possible to understand an enigma like Andy Kaufman, but at least let's give it a try, eh?