‘Kidding’: A Movie Review

Jim Carrey shines bright in Showtime’s dark dramedy “Kidding”, Created by Dave Holstein(Weeds). the series follows Jeff Pickles (Jim Carrey), a seemingly optimistic children’s television star, who can’t seem to turn off his on screen persona as a wise, kind, selfless soul.

But Jeff Pickles isn’t far from Carrey’s reality, the Canadian born comic began as an impressionist performing in various New York based comedy clubs, traveling from Toronto. He rose to TV fame playing Fire Marshal Bill and steroid abuser Vera de Milo on on In Living Color, then became a movie sensation with the 1994 trifecta of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber. The films were box office successes with a box office accumulation of 700 million dollars worldwide according to box office mojo.

In the 90’s,  the idea of Carrey taking on a serious roll would have been more absurd than any sketch In Living Color and Saturday Night Live! Could produce. Carrey established himself as the whimsical buffoon for the whole family, but it was clear he wasn’t contempt with his one sided image and wanted to prove he had the chops to do great things with the right role.

By 1999, Carrey starred in The Truman Show and Man on the Moon, a Biopic of the late comedian Andy Kaufman and good friend of Carrey. Both films are not very serious, but rather a tone down version of the man behind the Mask.

Carrey’s genuine serious roll wasn’t introduced to us until 2004, with Michel Gondry’s melancholy drama Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Gondry and Carrey would later be reunited for 8 out of the 10 episodes of Kidding. 

Jeff Pickles, like Carrey, seems to be a simple one minded person on screen. Pickles’ overbearing kindness and wisdom makes his audience believe he has all the answers, but with the recent death of his son, and legal separation of his wife Jill (Judy Greer), Pickles finds himself spiraling into a deep abyss of loneliness, anger and resentment towards his own brand.

But Pickles, who is basically Mister Rogers, only a generation younger and with longer hair. For 30 years, he has delighted and comforted children (and children at heart) with the help of his puppet pals and songs. Pickles uses a lot of Rogerisms like “Smiles are little gifts we give each other”.

And also like Rogers, he wants to use his show to both work through his feelings and prepare kids for tough concepts like death; his producer/Father Seb (Frank Langella) doesn’t want him to do anything to disrupt the merchandising empire Jeff has inadvertently created.

The Series even takes on conspiracy theories about Rogers, such as urban legends that Rogers was a Marine sharpshooter. In the episode “The New You” a young stoner friend of his only living son Will (Cole Allen) asks Pickles if it’s true he killed over 150 people in combat, Pickles uses the rumour to scare him into leaving his son alone.

Kidding is not only a series about family, it is about one’s own internal battle with happiness. Jeff pickles is a nice and caring person to everyone, except to himself. The series sheds light on something we often forget, our struggle with self reflection.

Kidding is now available on Showtime.