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Ranking the 11 best Jim Carrey movies

From The Truman Show to Ace Ventura, these are the roles that have defined Carrey's career

Jim Carrey in a classic face-making stance
Universal Pictures

Few comedians have had the remarkable run of success that Jim Carrey has built over the course of his more than 30 years in Hollywood. Carrey burst onto the scene in the mid-’90s as one of the most creative voices in comedy, and he had a string of massive hits that instantly made him one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. From there, Carrey proved that he had more than one schtick up his sleeve, and he went on to star in a number of much more serious, dramatically rich projects. Of course, he still brought out the silly whenever it seemed necessary. The result is a career that includes some of the greatest comedy movies ever made, as well as a variety of other deeply interesting movies.

The best Jim Carrey movies prove that, in his prime, he was a leading man on par with the likes of George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Whatever you’re looking for, there’s likely at least one great Jim Carrey movie that fits the bill.

11. The Cable Guy (1996)

11. The Cable Guy
96m
Genre
Comedy, Drama, Thriller
Stars
Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann
Directed by
Ben Stiller
Watch on Amazon
The Cable Guy is a dark comedy thriller starring Carrey and Matthew Broderick. Carrey portrays a cable installer named Chip Douglas, who becomes overly attached to a new customer, Steven Kovacs (Matthew Broderick). Chip misinterprets Steven’s politeness as a desire for friendship and becomes intrusive and aggressive in his attempts to hang out. The humor is a mix of slapstick and awkward situations as Steven tries to avoid Chip’s increasingly bizarre and obsessive behavior. As the movie progresses, the humor takes a darker turn, with Chip’s actions becoming more threatening and Steven struggling to escape his clutches.

10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
46%
6.2/10
104m
Genre
Family, Comedy, Fantasy
Stars
Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffrey Tambor
Directed by
Ron Howard
Watch on Amazon
In a live-action remake of the classic childhood Christmas film, Jim Carrey jumps into the role of The Grinch with boisterous splendor. Carrey was so committed to truly embodying the character that his makeup artist on set (who he worked with for many hours a day) had to take a mental health hiatus until he was begged by Carrey and director Ron Howard to return to set. Incredibly quotable and endlessly entertaining, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a movie for the whole family; boasting a rockstar cast and an unforgettable narration by Anthony Hopkins, this adaptation is cemented in our hearts as one of the best Christmas movies of all time.[/dt_media]

9. Liar Liar (1997)

9. Liar Liar
70%
6.9/10
pg-13
86m
Genre
Comedy
Stars
Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Cary Elwes
Directed by
Tom Shadyac
Watch on Amazon
In one of many films with Jim Carrey that he used as a personal playground, Liar Liar follows a lawyer on the fast track to success who is also a father with a steadily deteriorating relationship with his family. Don’t let the summary fool you, thought. This movie is full of Carrey antics, which all start when his son makes a wish on his birthday that his dad won’t tell a lie for just one day. Torn apart by his lucrative career of lies and his responsibility as a father, he struggles through the longest day of his life, where he quite literally cannot lie.

8. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

8. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
37%
6.9/10
pg-13
86m
Genre
Comedy, Adventure
Stars
Jim Carrey, Courteney Cox, Sean Young
Directed by
Tom Shadyac
Watch on Amazon
In his breakout role, Jim Carrey becomes Ace Ventura! Pet Detective. Shocking audiences around the globe with his cartoonish performance, Carrey thrives in the role that defined the early part of his career. Similar to Anthony Hopkins’ role as Hannibal Lecter, which was inspired by animal traits (a tarantula and a crocodile), Carrey shaped Ace Ventura by personifying a tropical bird. Strangely, Hopkins and Carrey would eventually discuss their shared approaches over dinner.

7. The Mask (1994)

7. The Mask
56%
6.9/10
pg-13
101m
Genre
Romance, Comedy, Crime, Fantasy
Stars
Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Peter Riegert
Directed by
Chuck Russell
Watch on Amazon
In The Mask, Carrey gets a chance to play an actual cartoon character, allowing him the freedom to exercise his rubber-like facial expressions and a wild conglomeration of voices inspired by old-timey cartoons. This film was Jim’s second big deal after Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and it allowed him to seamlessly roll into stardom. Unfortunately, his father Percy Carrey passed away in September 1994, three weeks before the release of this film. Jim put the $10 million check he received for the film in his father’s pocket, where it was buried with him. This film is an incredible display of Carrey’s prowess, showcasing all of his wackiest characters.

6. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)

6. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
45%
6.4/10
pg-13
90m
Genre
Crime, Comedy, Adventure
Stars
Jim Carrey, Ian McNeice, Simon Callow
Directed by
Steve Oedekerk
Watch on Amazon
In the second and final installment of the Ace Ventura franchise, Carrey takes this fearless and exuberant character to the next level and beyond. Adding to his impressive list of six films released within two years (1994-1995), you don’t get the slightest sense that the attention is wearing on Carrey. This film has become a staple in the comedy genre, and it’s still referenced and quoted decades later.

5. Man on the Moon (1999)

5. Man on the Moon
58%
7.4/10
r
118m
Genre
Comedy, Drama, History
Stars
Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Courtney Love
Directed by
Miloš Forman
Watch on Amazon
In one of his more serious roles, Carrey dives headfirst into the role of anti-comedy “song and dance man” Andy Kaufman. A beautiful and memorable ode to Kaufman helmed by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest director Milos Forman, Carrey re-lived all of the absurdist’s most popular moments in pop culture as if they were happening for the first time. Carrey had always looked up to Kaufman, attributing some of his real-life meta-antics (such as his drunk guy performance on the Arsenio Hall show) to the late, great showman. Many actors on set who knew Kaufman personally claimed that he lived through Carrey for the filming of this incredible biopic.

4. Dumb and Dumber (1994)

4. Dumb and Dumber
41%
7.3/10
107m
Genre
Comedy
Stars
Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly
Directed by
Peter Farrelly
Watch on Amazon
Filmed and completed during his acting marathon, Carrey is joined by Jeff Daniels as they play two well-intentioned imbeciles who just want to do what’s right. When Lloyd (Carrey) intercepts a briefcase left behind by a woman he drives to the airport, he and his friend Harry (Daniels) go on an unnecessarily difficult journey halfway across the country with the goal of winning her heart and returning her briefcase, but the adventure escalates when they discover the contents of said luggage. This film was a very close runner-up for our list of the best comedy movies of all time.

3. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (2017)

3. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton
77%
7.6/10
tv-ma
Genre
Documentary, Comedy
Stars
Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Miloš Forman
Watch on Netflix
This incredibly powerful and reality-bending Netflix documentary is one of the best movies on Netflix, and it chronicles the filming and acting processes behind the film Man on the Moon, where Carrey delves deep into his own psyche as he explores both the public persona Carrey adopted and his time taking on the part of Andy Kaufman. Throughout this film, we see hours and hours of behind-the-scenes footage on set, where Carrey (Kaufman) loses his perception of self and even experiences visceral, tear-jerking moments with the real people who were close to Kaufman. This film is the best place to learn about Jim Carrey as an actor, a character, and a vessel, all of which become ambiguously melded together in a somewhat melancholic showing of sheer talent and wavering identity.

2. The Truman Show (1998)

2. The Truman Show
90%
8.2/10
103m
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Stars
Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich
Directed by
Peter Weir
Watch on Amazon
In what many would claim to be his best work, The Truman Show is an endearing exhibit of Carrey’s acting skills. As his character, Truman Burbank, an insurance salesman, lives through his day-to-day life, he begins to notice that the world is watching him — quite literally. After following up on the paranoid suspicions he has built up throughout his life, Truman begins to challenge the status quo, which results in a confusing and life-altering series of events that turn him into the man that everyone wants him to be.[/dt_media]

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
89%
8.3/10
108m
Genre
Science Fiction, Drama, Romance
Stars
Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst
Directed by
Michel Gondry
Watch on Amazon
In a conceptual tour de force film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a cinematic masterpiece in which genre, narrative, and the very concept of memory are challenged. Joel (Carrey) is on a train for his usual commute when he meets Clementine (Kate Winslet), a quirky, overtly forward individual, who makes outrageous statements that catch our protagonist’s ear. When their relationship gets nasty, they individually seek out the help of an experimental memory-removal clinic that reminds them exactly why they belong together. Carrey is, for once, the quieter half of this couple, and Joel feels completely broken by the world he lives in. The movie’s trippy, melancholic sequences are a perfect fit for Carrey and Winslet, who carry the emotions of this story beautifully.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Joe Allen
Contributor
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
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