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THE EYES HAVE IT

"Man on the Moon," starring Jim Carrey ("The Truman Show"), Danny DeVito ("L.A. Confidential"), Paul Giamatti ("The Negotiator") and Courtney Love ("The People vs. Larry Flynt").

"Man on the Moon" is the mother of all biopics. I felt as though I was watching an A&E Biography about self-described "song and dance man" Andy Kaufman, except, instead of Kaufman playing himself, a little-known Canadian actor named Jim Carrey was called in to do the honors.

And what an honor. There was a mass of Hollywood's top actors vying for the role of the late Kaufman. Fortunately for all of us, this Carrey fellow snatched it up.

It's a good thing. Had the execs gotten a super-famous actor he might have detracted from the portrayal's credibility.

"Man on the Moon" retraces all of Kaufman's steps, from his early childhood to his Transcendental Meditations. Note: Thank you, director Milos Forman, for making the childhood bit last about two seconds.

It also includes Kaufman's famous "Mighty Mouse" skit on the first episode of "Saturday Night Live," his lovable Latka Gravas character on "Taxi" (practically the entire "Taxi" cast makes a guest appearance), his unrefined alter-ego Tony Clifton, Carnegie Hall and Jerry Lawler and the inter-gender wrestling years. By the way, Lawler plays himself, as does David Letterman.

My motto: "Give credit where credit is due." That being said, Jim Carrey and Milos Forman ("Amadeus") are the real geniuses behind "Man on the Moon"; everyone else was just part of the groovy/dirty '70s backdrop. I truly believe that Carrey was the best choice to play Kaufman. Jim Carrey is Andy Kaufman . . . even though he is Canadian (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Some little details that make the movie worth paying money to see are his eyes. Jim Carrey is a real eye actor. Hopefully the Academy will acknowledge it.

As for Forman, he does Kaufman justice. He turned what could have been just a more expensive biography into an expensive, yet deeply satisfying, biography. He added a certain flare that makes the film worth your while.

"Man on the Moon" has already been nominated for Golden Globes all over the place -- best actor, best motion picture comedy.

Those of you who remember Kaufman or just watched the television specials on Comedy Central and TV Land, know that lots of people weren't all that keen on the man, especially after the whole wrestling fiasco. I will say, however, that if you are one of the few who do enjoy his brand of comedy, you might prefer to watch Kaufman playing himself on the TV specials. Also, "Man on the Moon" might not be a thrill for anyone who is oblivious to Kaufman's comic styling and personality.

The Message: "Man on the Moon" makes you think. It makes you think of all the important things in life, like soap, for instance.

Janet Bossard is a junior at Olean High School.

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