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Man on the Moon (1999)

R  |   |  Biography, Comedy, Drama  |  22 December 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 97,221 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 547 user | 139 critic | 34 from Metacritic.com

The life and career of a legendary comedian, Andy Kaufman.


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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Andy Kaufman (as Tony Clifton)
Little Michael Kaufman (as Greyson Pendry)
Brittany Colonna ...
Leslie Lyles ...
Janice Kaufman - Andy's Mother
Bobby Boriello ...
Mr. Besserman
Budd Friedman
Wiseass Comic
Thomas Armbruster ...
Improv Piano Player
Pamela Abdy ...
Diane Barnett
Wendy Polland ...
Little Wendy
Cash Oshman ...
Meditation Student


Man on the Moon is a biographical movie on the late comedian Andy Kaufman. Kaufman, along with his role on Taxi (1978), was famous for being the self-declared Intergender Wrestling Champion of the world. After beating women time and time again, Jerry Lawler (who plays himself in the movie), a professional wrestler, got tired of seeing all of this and decided to challenge Kaufman to a match. In most of the matches the two had, Lawler prevailed with the piledriver, which is a move by spiking an opponent head-first into the mat. One of the most famous moments in this feud was in the early 80s when Kaufman threw coffee on Lawler on Late Night with David Letterman (1982), got into fisticuffs with Lawler, and proceeded to sue NBC. Written by Eli Boorstein <uahp@rocketmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"Hello, my name is Andy and this is my poster." See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and brief sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


| | |


Release Date:

22 December 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Andy Kaufman  »

Box Office


$52,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$7,515,585 (USA) (24 December 1999)


£501,786 (UK) (12 May 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Chosen by "Les Cahiers du cinéma" (France) as one of the 10 Best Pictures of 2000 (at #3). See more »


Well before his Saturday Night Live begins, Andy is seen doing his classic impression of "Mr. Carter, the president." Jimmy Carter was not yet even running for president at the time, and didn't get the office until halfway through the program's second season. See more »


[first lines]
Andy Kaufman: Hello. I am Andy and I would like to thank you for coming to my movie. I wish it was *better*, you know, but... it is so stupid! It's terrible! I do not even like it. All of the most important things in my life are changed around and mixed up for dramatic purposes. So, I decided to cut out all of the baloney! Now the movie is much *shorter*.
Andy Kaufman: In fact, this is the end of the movie. Thank you very much.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Jim Carrey's head (as Kaufman) peeks back in during the end credits. See more »


Referenced in Keeping the Faith (2000) See more »


Here's Tony
Written by Charlie Brissette and Ed Mitchell
See more »

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User Reviews

dank you veddy much
22 December 1999 | by (stow, oh) – See all my reviews

I've been an Andy Kaufman fan for quite a while now. True, I was around six when Andy died. But somehow this strange man was able to affect both my work and outlook. So needless to say I was looking forward to this film. And I was not disappointed.

Critics complain that while engaging, this film does not let the viewer in on who exactly Kaufman was. It's simple: there was no real Andy Kaufman. He was socially inept, utterly brilliant, and a strange and distant individual. His sense of humor (if he even had one) was not for everyone to understand. THAT WAS THE POINT. So why should a film spoil the mystery? MAN ON THE MOON was as an homage to Andy, NOT an explanation, and far better than those dull, lifeless documentaries on E! or comedy central in which uninteresting comedians try to explain why Andy was brilliant. It's common knowledge that explaining a joke renders it humorous (a notion that Andy toyed with in his Foreign Man routine, remember?)

True, some facts were altered for dramatic purposes (though the truth is just as interesting), or maybe just necessity, but the base story is still pretty accurate. Some of the more humorous moments in Kaufman's career were not mentioned (i.e. his stints on Johnny Carson and David Letterman, his work with performance artist Laurie Anderson, his street corner preaching). But lets face it, everything couldn't and didn't need to be included. The film is capable of capturing the essence of Kaufman's world. If you want to see everything Kaufman did, find a recording of it and watch that.

Carrey is brilliant as Kaufman. Some call it an imitation, though that seems overly simplified and absurd. That was an imitation along the lines of Geoffrey Rush in SHINE, or Hilary Swank in BOYS DON'T CRY, or Richard Farnsworth in THE STRAIGHT STORY. Sure, Carrey observes and uses the many Kaufman quirks without a fault, but his observation goes far beyond what any other actor seems capable of. Carrey is Andy Kaufman. So many seem unwilling to admit that Carrey can act.

Taken on it's own, MAN ON THE MOON is a magical, funny, and wonderful film. Taken with the rest of the sources currently available on Andy Kaufman, this is just another facet to a complex career and an homage to a brilliant man.

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