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There's Something about Mary

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: There's Something about Mary

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller
Director: Peter Farrelly
Rated: R
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: July 1998
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, Lin Shaye, Chris Elliott, Jeffrey Tambor, W. Earl Brown, Markie Post, Keith David, Steve Zuckerman

Review by Walter Frith
1½ stars out of 4

Say hello to Ted. He's a nerdy little yet well meaning guy who is about to go to his high school prom in Rhode Island in 1985. Never dreaming he'd get a decent date for the occasion, Ted (Ben Stiller) is overwhelmed when beautiful Mary (Cameron Diaz) asks HIM to go to the prom with her. Mary is the object of every guy's desire with her beautiful long hair, sparkling eyes and cheery smile and Ted, complete with braces, uncropped and mop like hair, still can't believe she wants to go with him. Upon picking Mary up for the dance, Ted uses the little general's room and upon "zipping it up too fast", he has an accident with his anatomy and can't go on his dream date. This prolonged scene, which is an exercise in extreme bad taste (but you'll love it), has everyone looking on, based on their own bizarre curiosity. Mary's mom, step dad, a police officer, a fireman and Mary herself. Poor Ted. He's not a loser, just a guy who runs into some bad luck.

Fast forward thirteen years to the present day. We discover that Ted, still living in Rhode Island, is still on the road to nowhere and has periodic conversations with his friend Dom (Chris Elliott) about life in general and after all these years, Ted still can't forget about Mary and hires a shady private investigator named Pat Healy (Matt Dillon), to look her up and report back to him. Upon finding Mary living in Miami, Healy begins falling for Mary himself and reports back to Ted that she's fat, has four kids by three different men and is confined to a wheel chair. This doesn't detract Ted from finding Mary. Mary, we discover, as Ted does eventually, is actually a successful orthopedic surgeon, with lots of friends who brings companionship and conversation to her lonely and pathetically youth obsessed elderly neighbour named Magda (Lin Shaye).

The Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, whose previous film credits include 'Dumb and Dumber' and 'Kingpin', strive to push the envelope towards extremely crude humour and this time they miss the mark for several reasons while still making a reasonably good film in many resepects. First of all, the film has long stretches where nothing really funny happens and there are two scenes in particular that actually drove me to almost vomit. Many patrons of the performance I attended were shocked as many of them were heard screaming instead of laughing in many of the film's scenes of gross out humour.

I love politically incorrect humour. One of the problems with political correctness is that is robs people of being themselves and at the same time it gets them labeled by supporters of the movement who become hypocrites themselves by knocking people who refuse to follow the rules of p.c. But even my love for politically incorrect humour can be stretched too far as it is in this film.

'Dumb and Dumber' and 'Kingpin' had some really funny moments without repelling movie goers. Not so with 'There's Something About Mary'. The film actually repels and tries to hard to be funny and Ben Stiller is rather flat and unfunny and isn't really suited for the part as well as some other more colourful actors could have been. Cameron Diaz and Matt Dillion aren't funny either and that brings further hindrance to the film. If sight gags and repellent humour can be perceived as funny without much input from the cast, the camera gets most of the credit that really ISN'T funny. In fairness, there some really funny moments in this film but they are overshadowed by the ones that cross the line. Jokes about mental retardation, crippled people, sperm and cruelty to animals will appeal to some and the belly laughs could have been there with less effort and more concentration on making it look easy rather than by using a polo mallet on our private parts.

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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