[Screen It]


(1999) (Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate Mild Moderate None None
Moderate None None None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Mild Mild Mild Mild

An unconventional comedian continually tries to shock his audience in this look at the life and times of the late Andy Kaufman.
Andy Kaufman (JIM CARREY) is a 1970s comedian best described as unconventional. Although his "performances" are often met with blank stares or unbelieving disapproval, a few of them are hits. It's the latter that draws the attention of George Shapiro (DANNY DeVITO), a seasoned talent agent who gets the performer an appearance on TV's "Saturday Night Live."

That eventually leads to a recurring spot on the TV show, "Taxi," but before Kaufman will sign the contract, he wants Shapiro and the network to agree to a series of demands, one of which involves the occasional casting of Tony Clifton on the show. Not knowing who this is, Shapiro checks out one of his acts and his shocked at how the puffy and abusive lounge singer treats the audience. That is, until he learns that he's really Kaufman in disguise, a character that he and writer Bob Zmuda (PAUL GIAMATTI) created as a gag to push the audience's limits.

As Shapiro gets to know Kaufman as best as anyone can, he learns that the performer, who doesn't claim to be a comedian, enjoys and lives for shocking his audience. Thus, he's not that surprised when Kaufman creates a bizarre TV special - much to the chagrin of Maynard Smith (VINCENT SCHIAVELLI), a harried network executive, or when he suddenly starts putting women down and wrestling with them in the ring.

It's there that he meets the eventual love of his life, Lynne Margulies (COURTNEY LOVE), as well as his arch nemesis, professional wrestler Jerry Lawler (JERRY LAWLER) who challenges Kaufman in and out of the ring. Yet, when Kaufman announces that he's dying of lung cancer, nobody, including his own parents, Stanley (GERRY BECKER) and Janice (LESLIE LYLES), knows whether that's just another of his outrageous acts.

With few buying into his illness and his public popularity diminishing due to his continued outrageous behavior, Kaufman must then decide how to live out the rest of his now shortened life and whether to continue trying to shock people or not.

If they're fans of Carrey, singer turned actress Courtney Love or of the late Andy Kaufman they might, but this one doesn't seem like much of a draw to most kids.
For language and brief sexuality/nudity.
  • JIM CARREY plays the unconventional comedian who takes it upon himself to shock or otherwise throw off his audiences. He briefly uses some strong profanity, fools around with some hookers and plays a character who's abusive to those in the audience.
  • DANNY DeVITO plays his agent, a man who tries, often in vain, to understand Kaufman and turn him into a star. He briefly uses strong profanity.
  • COURTNEY LOVE plays Kaufman's lover and part-time accomplice in his acts.
  • PAUL GIAMATTI plays Kaufman's friend, co-writer and partner in staging his outrageous and/or unconventional acts. He briefly uses strong profanity.
  • VINCENT SCHIAVELLI plays a harried TV executive who can't believe Kaufman and his antics.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a quick summary of the content found in this R-rated drama/comedy. Profanity is rated as heavy due to at least 6 uses of the "f" word, while certain characters also use other profanities and colorful phrases.

    Beyond those words/phrases that kids may want to imitate, other behavior - including the late comedian's style of outrageous and/or abusive comedy - may prove to be imitative fodder for some kids and some may find that style of humor to demonstrate bad and/or disrespectful attitudes.

    The comedian visits some hookers and we briefly see their bare breasts as he and two of them roll around on a bed. Another scene features "Vegas" style showgirls who show all of their bare breasts except for their nipples that are covered by small star "patches." A few sexually related comments are also made.

    Meanwhile some violence occurs in and out of a wrestling ring (although we later learn that some or all of it may have been staged), while certain characters smoke and drink (and a TV sketch program briefly features a comedy skit about drug use). A brief scene involving a "psychic surgeon" contains what looks like fake blood and some material used to simulate internal pieces of the human body.

    The rest of the film's categories are mostly void of any major objectionable content. Nonetheless, and as always, we recommend that you take a closer look at the listed content should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home.

  • People in bars or other venues drink in more than five such settings.
  • Zmuda has a beer.
  • While on "Taxi," Kaufman holds a bottle of booze, as does a woman next to him.
  • Kaufman appears on a TV sketch show where one particular skit is about people being high on drugs (where the narrator states that everyone's secretly brought along a joint). This doesn't go on very long, however, as Kaufman states that he doesn't want to do a skit using drugs as a joke.
  • Like others in a restaurant, Shapiro has wine with his meal.
  • Lynn has a drink.
  • As Andy appears as the abrasive lounge singer, Tony Clifton, he makes a joke about a woman wearing some strong perfume and that it must mean that it's "that time of the month."
  • Although we only see a fleeting glimpse of it, Kaufman does a gag about having people pay to come up and touch the boil on the back of his neck.
  • In a psychic surgeon clinic in the Philippines, we see the "surgeons" washing their hands in bloody water, as well as using what looks like bloody chicken parts (or something similar) being pulled out of people's bodies (all faked, of course).
  • As Andy appears as the abrasive lounge singer, Tony Clifton, he makes a joke about a woman wearing some strong perfume and that it must mean that it's "that time of the month." He also makes fun of other people in the audience as well.
  • In another of his staged acts, Kaufman is demeaning toward women, stating that their place is in the kitchen and that he'll wrestle and defeat any of them simply because he's a man.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Boner" (erection), "Bastard," "Loon," "Shut up," "Nuts" (testicles), "Frickin'," "Kick your ass," "Jerk," "Crackers" and "Piss off."
  • Some kids may be inspired to try to imitate Kaufman's style of humor and shocking/abusing his audience.
  • While eating with Shapiro, Andy has a fake booger having from his nose (and acts like he doesn't know it's there).
  • As Tony Clifton, Andy pours water on an audience member.
  • Tony makes the "f you" gesture.
  • In his wrestling character, Kaufman often extends his hand to shake his opponent's hand, but then whips it away at the last moment and uses it like he's smoothing down his hair.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 6 "f" words, 8 "s" words, 1 slang term for male genitals ("schlong"), 6 asses (2 used with "hole"), 5 hells, 1 damn, 1 crap and 2 uses each of "G-damn" and "For Christ's sakes" and 1 use each of "Oh my God," "God" and "Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • We see a line of shapely women (strippers or prostitutes) in skimpy bikinis (showing cleavage and part of their bare butts) about whom Zmuda tells Andy he can pick two of them. When Andy walks off with his chosen two, Zmuda tells an older woman that it's Andy's first time with a prostitute which makes the woman laugh as she tells him that Andy's there every week.
  • We then see Andy wrestling around with the women on a bed with both of them being topless.
  • As Tony Clifton, Andy feels a woman's clothed breast.
  • Kaufman does a lounge act as Tony Clifton who's accompanied by many "Vegas" type dancers whose nipples are just covered with small star-shaped patches (otherwise the rest of their bare breasts are seen).
  • About his wrestling with women, Lynne tells Kaufman, "You had a huge boner on national television."
  • A comment is made about a center for sexual research as Kaufman is on the phone.
  • As Tony, Kaufman says, "Skip the meal...go right to the ménage a trios." He also asks a woman if she's ever been with another woman (she replies, "Yeah, in the kitchen").
  • As Tony Clifton, Kaufman smokes a few times, while Lynne smokes once and various background characters smoke in bars or other venues.
  • Family members react to a loved one's death (briefly seen).
  • Kaufman's unique and often abrasive style of humor and the fact that due to his staging of other faked events, no one believes him when he actually gets sick (the old "crying wolf" syndrome).
  • In a scene from "Taxi," a character makes Andy's character slap himself.
  • Kaufman throws some furniture around on a set.
  • We see a montage of Kaufman wrestling with many women (in the ring) where he and some of them occasionally bite each other (while another does some kickboxing on him).
  • On a TV sketch show, Kaufman slaps another man and they get into a fight, but it turns out the whole thing was just staged.
  • In a wrestling match, Jerry Lawler grabs Kaufman and pile drives him into the mat. Zmuda then rushes up and pushes Lawler who pushes him back.
  • On a TV show, Lawler slaps Kaufman hard enough to send him out of his chair.

  • Reviewed December 7, 1999 / Posted December 22, 1999

    Other new and recent reviews include:

    [A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood] [Frozen 2] [Knives Out] [Queen & Slim] [21 Bridges]

    Privacy Statement and Terms of Use and Disclaimer
    By entering this site you acknowledge to having read and agreed to the above conditions.

    All Rights Reserved,
    ©1996-2019 Screen It, Inc.