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The Death of Andy Kaufman (2008)

| Documentary, Comedy | Video
The Andy Kaufman Project explores the possibility that avant-garde performance artist Andy Kaufman may have faked his death.

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The Andy Kaufman Project explores the possibility that avant-garde performance artist Andy Kaufman may have faked his death.

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Was It the Greatest Hoax of All Time?


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A so-so documentary about a fascinating & hilarious enigma
6 March 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

You can't get a much better subject for a documentary than Andy Kaufman, entertainer par excellence' & fascinating enigma who so perplexed the world that even to this day his closest friends still aren't sure that he's actually dead.

Andy Kaufman is my favorite comedian of all time even though he was loathe to consider himself a comedian,(it was too limiting for his tastes I imagine)& he had the mark of TRUE genius namely that not only has his legacy survived the years since his exit from the public scene (Either through death or a death hoax) but his body of work continues to be imitated in various forms throughout pop culture. Many focus on Sacha Baron Cohen as "Andy lite" not to mention Joaquin Phoenix's recent foray into Kaufmanland but consider for a moment that some 20 years before the "Masked Magician" revealed the secrets of magic on FOX that Andy & best friend/comedy writer/fellow Tony Clifton Bob Zmuda were doing that exact same thing in a bit, masked magician spilling the secrets & all. This is but one example of the countless efforts from Kaufman & Zmuda that were so far ahead of their time that it's only recently that pop culture is finally catching up to them.

In "The Death of Andy Kaufman" writer/director Christopher Maloney offers an incredibly subdued look at & ode to the genius at the center of this documentary. It is, while respectful, I daresay BORING which is something that Andy only ever was to those NOT catching on to what he was doing. Here that isn't the case as it's clear that writer/director Maloney is engaged in hero worship & as such spends only a perfunctory amount of time on what was to most people looking up the documentary (Myself included) the major draw of it in the first place, namely the search for the answer to the question "Did Andy Kaufman fake his death?".{SPOILER ALERT} Maloney dismisses the individual who not only runs AndyKaufmanlives.com as a fake without explaining who he is if he ISN'T Andy Kaufman (The fact that Kaufman's family has never interfered or placed any legal injunctions against this individual or the website has always been of utmost interest to me) but actively claims to BE Andy Kaufman (I've talked with him myself online under several guises or "characters". He's VERY Andy like.) in what can only be considered a half hearted search for the truth which was probably the result of that individual refusing to be interviewed by him & the conviction with which Andy's brother Michael convinced Maloney in their interview that his brother was in fact deceased. Not to be unkind but if Andy did fake his death & wanted to remain in seclusion for whatever reason then wouldn't it be contingent upon anyone close enough to him to know that he faked it to convince others that he was dead? I'm not saying to strap a lie detector up to Michael Kaufman or anything but let's not be so credulous with someone who has donned the Tony Clifton garb himself (For years Andy claimed that he wasn't Tony & that Tony Clifton was a separate person. Now we know that sometimes it was Andy in the TC makeup, sometimes it Bob Zmuda, & every now & then it was Michael Kaufman.). A TRUE search for the truth about Andy Kaufman's "death" (Perhaps an "In Search Of.." style?) would make for a much better documentary than this lazily paced art house exhibit that would have been better titled "The Life of Andy Kaufman".(Though it wouldn't have been an accurate representation of that either.)This is a mixed bag at best.


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