Alrighty then! It’s Jim Carrey’s birthday. To mark such a b-e-a-uuutiful occasion, we’ve ranked all of his major movies.
The year was 1994. Comedy was about to receive an injection of a new wall-bouncing, tireless drug: its name was Jim Carrey, one of the most recognisable yet divisive talents the genre has ever seen.
Of course, the actor’s talents aren’t limited to selling dead parakeets to blind kids and literally becoming God – though rarely utilised, his dramatic skillset is award-winning, from everyday man in artificial world to heartbroken guy purging his memories.
To properly celebrate the star’s filmography, we’ve looked at all of his major films and ranked them worst to best. Sure, he’s produced some turkeys in his time. But then, when Carrey says ‘Somebody stop me!’, it’s our duty to say no.
A tasteless, misogynistic, dreich murder thriller with Carrey as a towering, bearded, improbably Polish detective. As fun as a bus splashing you with a muddy puddle.
Carrey and Jeff Daniels return as 1994’s beloved titular halfwits in a sequel that’s only slightly better than the early prequel, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Then again, that’s like saying p*ss is better than sh*t.
‘Suggested’ by John Irving’s novel, Carrey’s tiny role is somewhat of a bright spot in an otherwise schmaltzy, inconsequential sop-fest. Its poster looks like a fake movie within a movie.
In Carrey’s first major lead role, he plays a teenage boy looking to lose his virginity. Alas, he catches the eye of a centuries-old vampire who must drink the blood of male virgins to stay youthful. It’s not as wild as it sounds, unsurprisingly buried in the actor’s legacy.
Carrey’s on-screen Dr. Seuss roster grew with Horton the Elephant, alongside Steve Carrell’s mayor of Whoville. It’s actually a delightful little movie, only erased from the public consciousness after being heavily outmatched by The Lorax five years later.
One of Carrey’s most infamous dramatic turns, starring as a normal, fatefully gullible guy who becomes alarmingly, nonsensically obsessed with the 23 enigma.
Included more for my own pleasure, this grimy Dirty Harry vehicle features Carrey as a rock star found dead from a heroin overdose… or was it murder? He doesn’t feature prominently, but it’s a small highlight of his pre-superstar roles.
23. Fun with Dick and Jane
A relatively uninspired remake of George Segal and Jane Fonda’s 1977 hit, featuring Carrey and Tea Leoni as a couple at the rob after a market crash sends them into unemployment. Watchable, certainly, even more so considering it came three years before the 2008 financial crisis.
Carrey is the best thing about Matthew Vaughn’s lacklustre follow-up to one of the best superhero movies ever, starring as the baseball bat-wielding Colonel Stars and Stripes with his dog, Eisenhower. The movie goes even further downhill after his departure.
A dystopian, apocalyptic thriller set against the sun-scorched, cannibalistic landscape of Texas. Carrey, on jarringly muted form, plays a helpful hermit in an unhinged world.
20. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
This broadly likeable, if underwhelming comedy sees Carrey transform into a Chris Angel-esque magician, at war with Steve Carrell’s titular showman. More on the goofy side than enthralling, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
19. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
A deliciously gothic, pantomimic adaptation of beloved source material, making up for its frustratingly soft edge with the sort of overblown Carrey performance that made him a household name in the first place.
Coming after late 90s awards glory, Carrey gives his all as Frank Darabont’s new age Jimmy Stewart – only this time as a blacklisted screenwriter during the Red Scare – in a kind-hearted, even beautiful feel-good fable.
It’s not the best Batman movie. But here’s the crucial bit: it’s absolutely not the worst. Carrey is a delectably theatrical Riddler, his notorious ‘buffoonery’ sparring with Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face and Val Kilmer’s caped crusader. Maybe one day we’ll get the Schumacher cut.
I’m pretty sure the enduring image of this Farrelly Brothers/Carrey reunion is the character’s alter-ego non-consensually sucking a woman’s boob. Whether that’s praise or poison depends on your taste, but there’s definitely laughs to be had from the actor’s reliable schtick.
15. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
There are few performances as irreplaceable as Carrey’s fuzzy, tangfastic Grinch of Whoville. He’s the entire appeal of the film, really – the actor brings his trademark unhinged mental, facial and vocal gymnastics to Dr. Seuss’ creation.
14. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
Carrey returns as the hyperactive pet detective following the titanic success of his first outing. There’s less to love here, and at 94 minutes, it even feels a bit long for its plot too. However, the actor also slowly, grotesquely ejects out of a rhino’s butthole. Cinema.
It may not have brought the video game movie curse to an end – but it’s bloody close. Carrey’s return to the big screen as the villainous Dr. Robotnik was the manic comeback we craved. A treat for gamers and non-gamers alike.
13. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Once said to be a passion project of Carrey’s, this light, breezy family romp sees a divorced father inherit a penguin from his father, which soon evolves into an apartment full of the slipping, sliding animals. It’s so much better than you think.
Robert Zemeckis’ take of the festive tale is a significant upgrade from his earlier mo-cap expedition on The Polar Express. Carrey is a wonderful Scrooge, surrounded by spellbinding dark magic and distinctly imaginative presentation.
11. I Love You, Phillip Morris
Criminally underrated, this lively, cutesy true story sees Carrey play Steven Jay Russell, a gay con-man who meets his soul mate (Ewan McGregor) in prison and pursues a life of crime and fortune, whether its impersonating doctors and lawyers, escaping prison or pretending to die of AIDS. Adorably preposterous throughout.
The ultimate ‘positive mental attitude’ movie, featuring Carrey in a role fit for his 90s comic hysterics, playing a man who, as the title suggests, begins saying yes to absolutely everything. Insert a number of hilarious madcap situations, both relatable and maddening.
Has your cable guy ever became your best friend, bought you a bank-busting home cinema system, taken you to a Medieval Times restaurant and proceeded to ruin your life when you reject their friendship? Well, if not, you can live out that nightmare in The Cable Guy, an enduring favourite of Carrey fans.
8. Ace Ventura Pet Detective
The big screen debut of, arguably, Carrey’s most iconic character; a private detective specialising in lost animals who’s called into action when a local football team’s dolphin mascot is abducted. If you subscribe to the actor’s brand of nonsense, this is pure nectar.
It’s Carrey’s highest-grossing film ever, raking in more than $484 million. A mammoth box office has a conceit to match: after complaining about his life to God (Morgan Freeman), he’s given his powers for a week. A divine twist on the It’s a Wonderful Life story, with laughs aplenty.
If you’re gonna let Carrey loose in a comic book world, you better make sure it’s ssssssmokin! With bamboozling assistance of cartoonish CGI, the actor truly, immensely becomes the green-faced, gangster anti-hero with devilish aplomb.
Carrey found inspiration in Andy Kaufman. Not his comic style, per se, but his steadfast beating of his own drum. Man on the Moon sees him play the legendary ‘music man’ from the rise of his fame to death (if you believe him, that is). His most personal performance; possessed, captivating and illusory all the same.
It’s a very tight choice between this and his Farrelly Brothers debut. Weighing it up, Liar Liar is a wittier, fresher movie, equipped with a contorting, exhausting, incredible turn from Carrey at the very height of his powers. Supremely GIF-able, from start to finish.
Think about Jeff Daniel’s buttquake into the broken toilet. Think about Carrey’s most annoying sound in the world. These are timeless comedy moments among many, many others, sewn into a ridiculous tale of brotherhood on the open road. The actor’s funniest film, hands down. Sing it with me: mock… ING!
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Rarely is movie romance as pure as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s imperfect, painful, flaky, impulsive and stubborn. It’s the break, ache, fury, grief and recovery of the heart. Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry crafted a wonder. There will never come a time when the world doesn’t need this movie.
Even today, The Truman Show is still giving ‘hope and joy and inspiration to millions’. A technical showcase, morally and socially prescient, and the perfect illustration of either side of Carrey’s coin, from his genteel good morning energy to gripping the sails in agony, with Father Kolbe’s Preaching soaring into the soul. An escape from reality about an escape to reality.