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A Comedy Comeback for Jim Carrey?

By Edited Jul 26, 2016 0 0

It would be unfair to say that Jim Carrey is experiencing a career crisis. Since his film breakthrough two decades ago, he has enjoyed success nearly any actor would envy. Yet there is no doubt that the scheduled November release of Dumb and Dumber To gives Carrey a chance to dominate the box office in a way he hasn't in years.

The release of the original Dumb & Dumber in December 1994 marked the triumphant end of a magical year for Carrey. Ten months earlier, he had become a movie star thanks to the surprise success of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. His next film, The Mask, was released that summer and became an even bigger hit. When Dumb & Dumber earned $16 million in its opening weekend, Carrey became the first actor to have three films debut in first place at the box office in a year. Both Dumb & Dumber (sixth) and The Mask (ninth) were among the year's 10 most popular films. Carrey's winning streak didn't end when the new year arrived. He starred in two of 1995's most popular films, Batman Forever (second) and the Ace Ventura sequel When Nature Calls (fifth). 

The 1996 release of the dark comedy The Cable Guy, for which Carrey became the first actor ever to earn a $20 million paycheck, marked the first setback in his leading man career. That was the conventional wisdom, anyway. The Cable Guy actually made a modest profit, but it was nevertheless written off as a flop. Carrey enjoyed much better results with 1997's crowd-pleasing Liar Liar, which was the year's fourth highest-grossing movie. 

If Carrey's first attempt to move beyond broad comedy was seen as a disappointment, his second effort, 1998's The Truman Show, was an enormous success. Not only was it a smash hit, Carrey was considered a contender for an Oscar nomination. Although he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, Carrey went unnoticed by the Academy. He ended the 1990s by playing legendary comedian Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon. The movie was a box office failure, but Carrey won a second consecutive Golden Globe. Once again, however, his name was left off the Oscar ballot.


Carry reunited with Peter and Bobby Farrelly, his Dumb & Dumber directors, for 2000's Me, Myself & Irene. Although the movie failed to reach the heights of their previous collaboration, it was a box office success. He followed this by playing the title character in a big screen adaptation of a classic Dr. Seuss book. How the Grinch Stole Christmas was 2000's most successful film. 

A career decline was perhaps inevitable after such an enormous success, but Carrey likely couldn't have imagined the depths to which he would sink with 2001's The Majestic. The romantic drama was generally disliked by critics and a huge box office flop. Carrey rebounded with the comedy Bruce Almighty, 2003's fifth highest-grossing film. 

Carrey began with 2004 with a dramatic role in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The movie was an overwhelming critical success and won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Made on a small budget, it turned a profit. Neither of these things were true about the movie Carrey headlined that Christmas, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which failed to earn back its $140 million budget. He enjoyed a modest success when the $100 million comedy Fun with Dick and Jane was released the following Christmas. His early star vehicles received some harsh reviews, but Carrey hit a critical nadir with 2007's The Number 23, which has an 8 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  The thriller made a very small profit but was only in release for five weeks. 


In early 2008, Carrey found success in another film adaptation of a Dr. Seuss book by lending his voice to the title character in Horton Hears a Who! Carrey ended 2008 by starring in the comedy Yes Man, a solid box office success. 

After 15 years of movie stardom, Carrey finally collaborated with Walt Disney Pictures on 2009's A Christmas Carol. This adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens novel was the studio's first animated movie to be released in IMAX 3-D. It also marked director Robert Zemeckis' first film for Disney since 1988's enormously popular Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The $200 million A Christmas Carol wouldn't enjoy similar success, failing to earn back its budget. 


Carrey could be seen in human form once again in 2010's I Love You Phillip Morris, playing a con artist who's sent to prison and falls in love with a fellow inmate played by Ewan McGregor. Not that many people did; the movie grossed only $20.6 million worldwide, approximately 90 percent of which came from foreign box office. He then starred in 2011's Mr. Popper's Penguins, an adaptation of the classic 1938 children's book, which was a modest box office success. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, released in March 2013, saw Carrey play a street magician whose popularity threatens performers played by Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi. It was a critical and box office flop. 


Kick-Ass 2, in which Carrey played an urban vigilante, was released five months after Wonderstone's failure. The film was more notable for Carrey's refusal to promote it than its weak box office. He believed he couldn't promote such a violent film following the Sandy Hook shootings. Carrey finished the year by making one of the many celebrity cameos in the box office success Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Will Dumb and Dumber To bring Carrey the kind of astronomical box office popularity he once enjoyed? Early signs are promising. The move's trailer received 23.5 million views in its first week on YouTube. Maybe, just maybe, Carrey will be able to celebrate like it's 1994. 



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