Wednesday, May 29, 2013

932. There's Something About Mary (1998)

Running Time: 119 minutes
Directed By: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Written By: Ed Decter, John J. Strauss, Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Main Cast: Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Chris Elliott, Lee Evans
Click here to view the trailer


We're getting down to the wire here ladies and gentlemen and I am officially within ten movies of wrapping up this season, making a new TOP 20 list and having only 300 movies left to go before my journey comes to an end.

The movie starts out in Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1985, as we zoom in on a 16-year-old Ted Stroehmann (Stiller). Ted is far from a ladies teenager, sporting braces and a awkward haircut. It's nearly time for the prom and while Ted gets shot down from one girl, he's surprised when Mary Jensen (Diaz) asks him to the dance. Mary is one of the popular girls at school, but she doesn't act like it, as she's actually nice and when she asks Ted to the dance he's shocked, but obviously accepts. On the night of the prom, however, a mishap that involves him accidentally peering into Mary's bedroom window while she's undressing and him catching his manhood in his pants zipper, sees Ted being loaded into an ambulance and his dream prom date canceled. Fast forward to present day and Ted is a struggling novelist who still thinks about what could have been with Mary, as he realizes he still has feelings for her. His friend Dom (Elliott) urges Ted to hire a private investigator and gives him the number of Pat Healy (Dillon), a sleazeball who offers to go to Miami (where Mary now lives) and track down Mary for Ted. When Pat arrives in Miami, he tracks down Mary fairly quickly, but ends up falling for himself and when he comes back to Rhode Island he tells Ted the worst facts he can possibly think of to detract his attention away from Mary. Pat then moves to Miami and begins a relationship with Mary. Having stalked her for a few weeks, he's found out what kind of man she's looking for and pretends to be her ideal suitor. Ted, however, still can't get Mary out of his mind and decides to take the leap anyway, heading to Miami to see Mary and tell her how he feels.

The Farrelly Brothers arrived on the scene in 1994, with the release of "Dumb and Dumber" and became a staple of 90s comedies that paved the way for guys like Judd Apatow to carry on the legacy of crass, crude comedies. "There's Something About Mary" was their third film (after "Kingpin") and due to heavy promotion and an image of Cameron Diaz running a handful of semen through her hair, the film did big numbers and put the Farrelly's on the map. I had mixed feeling about the film. On one hand, the film does have some heart, the principle actors are pretty funny and if we're talking about cast, the real shining star of the show is Matt Dillon, who turns on a performance not unlike Kevin Kline's performance in "A Fish Called Wanda (except not as good). The film is a little on the long side for a comedy, but it flows along quite nicely and provides a suitable number of laughs to keep things chugging along. However, its the type of film that I'll laugh at while it's playing, but then kind of feel guilty/silly for even finding humor in such ridiculousness after it's over. Like I've said before on the blog, as I grow older I'm just having a harder and harder time accepting these comedies, even though they were films I would've howled at when I was a teenager, when they came out. It kind of makes me proud of myself for growing out of such silliness and being able to go back and find that comedies used to be movies that could stand on their own two legs without any trouble. Guys like Buster Keaton and W.C. Fields who made a living making people laugh and didn't need bodily fluids or a multitude of curses to do so. I'd really like to see someone come along and make a really funny comedy that didn't involve nudity, fart jokes and the F word in every scene. Come on Hollywood, surely there's someone out there that can do this, even if only for an experiment to see if it can even be done in the 21st century.

In most people's opinion the Farrelly's never did better than "There's Something About Mary", although I have a soft spot for "Me, Myself & Irene" and "Stuck On You", the latter of which I actually saw in the theater (went to see "The Two Towers" and it was sold out, so what was a guy to do?). "Irene" is incredibly crass, but blends in an equal amount of heart and it works better and "Stuck On You" tones the crudeness way down and actually has a decent cast to back up the work - Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon. Despite Stiller's decent performance and Dillon's great one, "Mary" just doesn't have the cast or the story to back up the promotion that went behind it and in my eyes, it really all hinges on the shock value: a guy zipping his "bits" into his fly, Mary streaking semen through her hair and Dillon catching a dog on fire, while trying to shock it back to life with the frayed ends of a lamp cord. While you may go so far as to howl while watching it, I think true film fans are either going to feel guilty for doing so or write it off as a movie that they had fun with, but would never take seriously. I did a little bit of both and can deduce that it had absolutely no place among the likes of "A Clockwork Orange", "Once Upon a Time in the West" or "Manhattan", among hundreds of others.

RATING: 5.5/10  FUN FACT: The words to the tune that plays when Ted is pleasuring himself to the brassiere advertisement are "beat out that rhythm on the drum" and is from "Carmen Jones". Great touch!!


May 29, 2013  9:49pm

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