Jim Carrey’s Top Ten Film Roles Ranked


jim carrey

Jim Carrey burst onto the scene from Canada to Los Angeles as a comedy star, becoming known for his stand-up and impressions in TV appearances.  He gained popularity as a cast member on In Living Color, before focusing on his film career.  Carrey is one of the few stand-ups to successfully transition to becoming an A-list film star, who can carry anything from a slapstick comedy to a drama.  Here’s a ranking of Jim Carrey’s top ten film roles.

10. The Cable Guy (1996)

The film was considered a flop when it first came out, but it has gained some cult following in recent years.  Jim Carrey stars as The Cable Guy, opposite Matthew Broderick.  Ben Stiller directed this dark comedy that isn’t really a comedy, which features Carrey playing a villain.  Shortly after his string of successful slapstick comedies, audiences saw Carrey embody a different type of character. He established himself in a darker setting.  The movie includes a host of big-name co-stars, including Leslie Mann, Jack Black, , Bob Odenkirk, and David Cross, as well as Judd Apatow working as a film producer for the first time in his career.

9. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Ace Ventura made Carrey a movie star.  In just 86 minutes, Carrey made Ace Ventura a part of popular culture, spawning sequels and classic quotes and even recognition from the American Film Institute as one of the funniest films of all-time.  Who besides Jim Carrey could have made Ace Ventura a classic franchise?  Rick Moranis was originally offered the part, but turned it down so he could play Barney in a live-action Flintstones film.  Fans of the film should be forever thankful that Moranis did not want to play a pet detective.

8. I Love You, Phillip Morris (2009)

Carrey plays Steven Jay Russell in this comedy, based on a true story of a prison escapee who fell in love with a fellow inmate, played by Ewan McGregor.  The film was underrated, receiving a quietly positive reception.  Carrey gives a great performance as a con artist who explores his true identity as a homosexual man.  His role and the film hit the right mix of comedy, without dipping into maudlin over-sentimentality.  The movie isn’t a classic, but it’s an undoubtedly strong performance from Carrey.

7. Bruce Almighty (2003)

Jim Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a weatherman at a local news channel in Buffalo.  Unhappy with a series of bad professional breaks, Bruce proclaims that God should be fired.  God (Morgan Freeman) is having none of that.  The Almighty grants Bruce the powers of the Creator — at least in the Buffalo-area.  Carrey’s performance, along with Morgan Freeman as God in a white suit, made the film a wildly popular comedy when it was released.  It earned nearly $500 million at the box office, one of the highest-earning comedies of all-time.  How important is Carrey’s presence to movie fans?  A sequel, Evan Almighty, starring Steve Carell instead of Carrey, did not even earn back its budget.

6. Dumb and Dumber (1994)

If you were a casting person, you would probably never think to pair Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels together.  Yet the Farrelly Brothers did so in their first film — and created a comedy that has only gotten more beloved in the last two decades.  Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Daniels) are hilarious as two good-hearted, stupid friends who embark on a cross-country trip to return a briefcase.  The hijinks ensue as the two have undeniable chemistry playing off each other.

5. The Mask (1994)

Before superhero movies were the only films that would dominate the box office, Jim Carrey struck surprising gold starring in The Mask.  The slapstick comedy film, based on the comic books, is the third of Carrey’s three hit comedy films of 1994, including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber.  Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss, who finds the Mask of Loki that turns him into The Mask.  Carrey brings life to the comic books.  The line, “Somebody stop me!” is perhaps the most memorable from the film, which earned positive reviews and, at the time, was the second-highest grossing superhero film of all-time, behindBatman.  Since then, The Mask’s ranking on that list has gone down a few notches, but Carrey’s comic skills made the comedy a standout.

4. Liar Liar (1997)

This movie stars Jim Carrey as a sleazy attorney who continuously disappoints his young son, breaking promises that he will see him.  When Carrey’s character, Fletcher Reede, misses his son’s birthday party, his son makes a wish that, just for one day, his dad would have to tell the truth.  The wish comes true and Carrey helps elevate the film to be better than you might expect.  He carries some scenes with slapstick humor at the height of his physical comedy game.  The film’s emotion might be thin, but Carrey shows ability to portray characters with a sensitivity that set the stage for his next few projects.

3. Man on the Moon (1999)

The top three-ranked films on this ranking are miles above the rest.  In Man on the Moon, Carrey performs the near-impossible task of capturing the essence of Andy Kaufman in this biopic.  Like Kaufman, Carrey is constantly embodying different characters, never flicking the off-switch, and he is amazing in this role.  Carrey won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Film for his portrayal.  Carrey, who has to play both Andy Kaufman and his alter-ego Tony Clifton, hits every note.  He is funny, obnoxious, sensitive, arrogant, and captures Kaufman’s wildly different mannerisms in different settings.

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Carrey plays a radically different role in this Charlie Kaufman-scripted film.  His character, Joel – reserved, stoic, emotionally withdrawn – meets Clementine (Kate Winslet), a wild, eccentric, free spirit, adventure-seeking woman on a train ride.  The story of their relationship is amazingly well-told, in a screenplay that won Charlie Kaufman an Oscar.  Carrey’s performance is so effective, because he does not break into the broad, outlandish persona that he is so capable of playing – deferring to Winslet to play that role and reacting beautifully.  This film shows his incredible depth as an actor, portraying a depressed, hopeful, removed man, who is just trying to stay sane and figure out his love.

1. The Truman Show (1998)

The Truman Show is an amazing film on multiple levels.  Peter Weir (director) and Andrew Niccol (writer) execute a film in which the premise – a man whose life is broadcast 24/7 – could easily fall flat or dwell in stupidity (EDtv, for example).  The supporting cast of Laura Linney, Natasha McElhone, Noah Emmerich, and Ed Harris all nail their roles as double-performers, playing their characters as well as playing actors in a show and world in which Truman does not know he is the center.  Carrey’s performance as Truman Burbank showcases everything he does so well as an actor.  The film has comedy, beginning with Carrey’s upbeat performance of Truman, living his life oblivious to the reality show in which he is the unconsenting star.  The escalation of Truman’s slow realization of his world turns the film darker, but never veers off-tone.  Carrey’s poignant, upbeat, thoughtful, trusting, angry, and curious performance won him his first Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama.  Well-deserved.

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Dan Perlman is a stand-up comedian and writer from New York City. Dan performs regularly at Stand Up NY, New York Comedy Club, Comic Strip Live, and alternative rooms across the city. He has performed in comedy festivals in Brooklyn, Memphis, and Dallas. In 2013, Dan was named Comedy Contributor for Neil deGrasse Tyson’s popular StarTalk Radio show. He co-founded, writes, and stars in the web series, Moderately Funny. Dan also works as a Sketch Company Writer for the Off-Broadway theater group, On The Rocks. Currently, Dan hosts and produces a monthly storytelling show, Hindsight, at Stand Up NY Labs. He also appears regularly on SiriusXM’s Ron and Fez Show. Visit danperlmancomedy.com for more.

14 Comments

  1. Will

    July 9, 2015 at 10:27 am

    truman show is so good

  2. loandinasor

    July 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Eternal Sunshine is my favorite film. It’s brilliant

  3. justForRon0Fez

    July 9, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Ace Ventura is number 1 for me.  It’s hilarious when you’re a kid, and then when you watch it again, it’s even funnier

  4. Sonnytax

    July 9, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    “The mask” was shit,even when I was kid

  5. XTallOne

    July 9, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Me, Myself & Irene.  Very funny movie as well.

  6. BadNewsJeff

    July 9, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Pepper nailed it when he said Ace Ventura (1 and 2), Dumb and Dumber, and Cable Guy are the holy trinity of Jim Carey roles.  He’s a funny goofball who is best in goofball roles.  I don’t need to see Michael Jordan play baseball, and I don’t need to see Jim Carey try to be oddly serious.

  7. Captain Geech

    July 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    kid killer. fuck this guy

  8. Stoops

    July 9, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    justForRon0Fez No shit. Any list that doesn’t at least have Ace in the top 3 let alone in first is garbage.

  9. Jeb Schneb

    July 9, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    BadNewsJeff Forgot Yes Man.. much better than most of those.

  10. MWJ

    July 9, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Captain Geech and his dick smells like Jenny McCarthy farts.

  11. RobC423

    July 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Mock.. YEAAAA  …ING  YEAAAAAAAAA

  12. FERREL

    July 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    Count Olaf
    BRAVO! BRAVO!

  13. smittymolly84

    July 11, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    3. Truman show
    2. Dumb and dumber
    1. Cable guy

  14. smittymolly84

    July 11, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Forgot about that one. Definitely top 10 if not top 3