As the latest Jim Carrey 'vehicle', Mr Popper's Penguins, opens this week, we thought it was time to step in with an open letter addressed to the man himself.
We think it’s time we talked. And please don’t just shrug us off by doing that front-teeth-over-your-lip downward grin thing. If we’re honest, it’s starting to get kind of creepy. You see, we’ve just seen the trailer for Mr Popper’s Penguins. That’s right, you’d better sit down.
Who can believe it’s been 17 years since that innocent summer when you hit us like a wildly veering freight train, first with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, then The Mask? Sure, you were annoying even then, but it clearly took real talent to get a laugh just by darting your eyes and saying “yaabsolutely”.
Then something magical happened. Your portrayal of Lloyd Christmas in the seminal Dumb and Dumber stole the hearts of a generation. A rubber-faced star with a mildly sinister reliance on dimple control was born.
But even then, sadness lurked behind those expressive brown eyes. As high-concept vehicles came and went, the questions began to surface: how best to harness this once-in-a-generation talent for scene-stealing gesticulations and facial contortions? And, on reflection, was it really enough to build a career around?
Where critics once wrote “talented”, they now settled on “bloody irritating”. But just in time, a lifeline. The Truman Show had given you a light, but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind promised salvation. Here was range, depth, vulnerability. So what did you do next? Fun With Dick and Jane. Did you learn nothing from Robin Williams?
Which brings us to the present. They say you smile with your eyes, but no matter how far you widen that toothy grin, all those weary peepers seem to say is, “Why am in a kids’ flick with Angela Lansbury?”
As the lines deepen on your face, the harder it is to buy into that manic enthusiasm. Seeing you do a synchronized dance routine to a soundtrack of “Ice Ice Baby” with a troupe of computer-generated penguins hit us pretty hard. We bet it felt pretty lonely up in front of the blue screen that day.
When you’d returned to your trailer and locked the door, maybe, like us, you wondered where the guy who played Lloyd Christmas had gone. He's still in there Jim, so ditch the penguins (and possibly your agent) and let him breathe again.
Words by Will Hersey
Illustration by Miles Cole