Writer-directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly have made a career out of
increasingly upping the ante in their big-screen comedy ventures, going for
broke with bawdy, salacious humor in order to do one thing, and one thing
only: make the audience laugh. Where the Farrelly brothers have also
excelled, however, is in their continuous creation of quirky stories and
likable characters that they place the outrageousness around, so as to ground
the films in at least a modicum of reality. Beginning with their first and,
coincidentally, best and funniest picture to date, 1994's "Dumb and Dumber,"
and followed by 1996's "Kingpin" (their weakest film, but still ambitiously
enjoyable) and 1998's funny and raucous, if overrated, smash hit, "There's
Something About Mary," their latest endeavor is the utterly satisfying,
charming, and predictably rib-tickling "Me, Myself & Irene."
Headlining the fine cast in his first return to a purely comic performance
since 1997's "Liar, Liar," Jim Carrey stars as Charlie, a sweet-natured, yet
meek and seemingly inconsequential, Rhode Island State Trooper whose marriage
to an intelligent blonde (Traylor Howard) ended fifteen years ago when she
struck up an unlikely romance with an African American midget limo driver and
fellow MENSA member. Charlie is left to take care of his three sons whom he
was left with, and who turn out to "have year-round sunburns," but he loves
them unconditionally and trudges on with his life.
Switch forward to the present, one day, triggered by yet another case of
citizens not taking his profession and authority seriously because of his
understated personality, Charlie snaps and temporarily becomes Hank, his
crude, despicable alter ego who is able to do the sorts of things Charlie
would never do. Diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder, Charlie is
assigned to escort the beautiful Irene Waters (Renee Zellweger) back to her
home state of New York following a wrongful arrest for fraud, granted that he
take the medication for his now-fragile condition. Soon, Charlie and Irene
are on the lam after they learn they are being stalked by two cops (Chris
Cooper, Richard Jenkins) who have been hired by Irene's crooked boyfriend to
do away with her. To make matters worse, Charlie loses his medication and,
without any control over it, frequently becomes the up-to-no-good Hank, who
cares about very little but getting into Irene's pants.
If the plot of "Me, Myself & Irene" sounds slightly unfocused and more than a
little implausible, that is okay because what Bobby and Peter Farrelly enjoy
doing is creating a basic premise in which to design a line of crass jokes
and unrestrained humor that is snappy and funny enough to withhold a two-hour
movie. While not as purely comic as, say, "Dumb and Dumber" or "Kingpin,"
"Me, Myself & Irene" pays close attention to its eccentric three-way
relationship between Charlie, Hank, and Irene, and amidst the raucous laughs
unearths a genuinely sweet romance.
After two years of focusing on more dramatic work that has rightfully proven
his wide acting chops (1998's "The Truman Show," 1999's "Man on the Moon"),
Jim Carrey is in top comedic form as the lovable Charlie, as well as the
unruly Hank. Acclaimed for his extreme range of facial expressions, Carrey
garners many laughs simply from his transformations from himself to his alter
ego. Best of all, Carrey is the type of performer who cherishes the audience,
and wants nothing more than to entertain everyone; therefore, when even the
slightest comic opportunity arises, Carrey runs with it.
A standout in 1996's "Jerry Maguire," followed by an unfortunate appearance
in 1999's flat, unconvincing "The Bachelor," Renee Zellweger is her usual
winning self as the title character of Irene. Carrey may be the bigger
personality of the two, but their quick interplay is the source of what makes
"Me, Myself & Irene" work so well, and Zellweger does excellent work as she
reacts to Charlie's sweetness and Hank's lewd ways, as well as forms the
center for the romance that ultimately forms between Charlie and herself.
Lest anyone forget "Me, Myself & Irene" is, indeed, a Farrelly comedy, the
jokes come fairly fast and furious, and involve (but are not exclusive to) a
stubborn cow that is the victim of a potential road kill incident, but
refuses to die; an inappropriate sex scene involving a chicken; an
interesting way for a grown man to get ahold of milk; the three robust, black
stepsons of the very-much-Caucasian Charlie who just so happen to be
18-year-old prodigies; and the morning travails of Charlie, who attempts to
urinate in a toilet despite his erection.
A road movie at heart, the film takes up the majority of its running time
following Charlie/Hank and Irene traveling and hiding out from the cops, and
it is this section that is the most thoroughly satisfying. Only the overly
violent climax that is reminiscent of Carrey's self-fighting scene in "Liar,
Liar" loses its humorous footing, but promptly recoups in time for the
With a soundtrack complete with rerecordings of several Steely Dan classics
(including my personal favorite, "Do It Again," which plays over the end
credits), and a purposefully cheesy occasional narration in the vein of a
Disney nature documentary from the 1950s, "Me, Myself & Irene" is one of the
more enjoyable and lively motion pictures to come along this summer, and
demonstrates how a successful comedy should be carried out.
Copyright © 2000 Dustin Putman