There’s Something About Mary – Review

There’s Something About Mary

with Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Chris Elliott
Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Written by Ed Decter, John J. Strauss
by Scott Hefflon

If you haven’t heard practically everyone say how funny this movie is, you might want to have an ear exam. Usually, when audiences rave, critics hiss like threatened cats; and when critics rave, it’s some artsy piece of shit no one really enjoyed. And even when critics and audiences agree, there’s some cool/alternative/knee-jerk backlash that has some merit. (Scenario: Critics are quoted as saying “riveting!,” “a must see!,” “the feel-good movie of this equinox!,” and other such nonsense, the general public, wide-eyed breeders mostly, are caught in the camera’s lights like frightened deer so they fawn enthusiastically the exact same drivel as the last whinnying workhorse, dipshits crane their necks in the background to get their faces in the camera, and boyfriends get slapped by their embarrassed girlfriends as they suddenly become pit-scratching primates… The brooding and bitching malcontents hold the anti-opinion, as they always do, as if anyone gives a shit what a bunch of barely literate, constantly grumbling, non-consumers think, yet somewhere in the rotten bunch is someone with a keen mind, an decent vocabulary, and the ability to enunciate words. And that’s the person who lights the backdraft. All that gaseous air ignites, and everyone [everyone who has the ability to change their mind when new, decisive information is made available, that is] suddenly realizes they’ve been duped. Again.) But There’s Something About Mary is different.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a love story. We’re drowning in love stories, and those of us not in love (at least when the TV is off) have a tendency to resent the fact that many love stories are kinda icky if not told properly. “Properly” is not a word usually used to describe the Farrelly brothers, but this movie is a success because it’s a comedy that just happens to have the sunniest, most day-making female lead played by Cameron Diaz. The fact that she’s stunning is secondary to the fact that she glows, man, and she’s just so cool. There’s just no better way to put it. And Ted (Stiller) is given the ultimate gift of winning her heart, at least once in his life. And now, 13 years later, he wants – strike that, he needs – to see if he can be a part of her life again. We’ve all known people who just radiate, we’ve all let people slide out of our lives, we’ve all wondered what the hell happened. Ahem, yeah, but this is a comedy… So lots and lots of plot twists occur, flashbacks, coincidences, and improbable situations line up, make you chuckle, and then make way for the next joke. But the magic is in the timing. The Farrelly brothers can milk a joke better than anyone, or at least they do here. While Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin were quite funny, often “hearty chuckle” funny, There’s Something About Mary has a few scenes that you have to see (and see repeatedly) to fully appreciate. As one not predisposed to uncontrollable laughter, even on the fourth viewing I found myself doubled over, wiping my eyes, and repeating “Ohhh shiiiit.” (For those not from the ghetto, or wishing they were from the ghetto, “Ohhh shiiiit” is a catch-all phrase to be repeated endlessly and without provocation that can be loosely translated to any tense of “I just can’t believe this.”) The Farrelly brothers fire off jokes like a couple naughty boys in the mall with Snap-Caps, those exploding firecracker things that make us old folks jump out of our skin. And while that quick, juvenile pleasure has been par for the course thus far, the brothers Farrelly have devised a “pitbull-gag” that’s very, very hard to pull off (so to speak). A few times throughout the movie, there’s a joke that just keeps going and going, building and building, you’re laughing so hard you’re almost crying and can’t see anything, and then they knock it up even higher for one last moment before letting you down. And then, as you’re wiping your eyes and catching your breath, they hit you with it again – short but hard. Now that’s hard to do.

There’s nothing bad I can say about There’s Something About Mary. The only aspect I didn’t like was Jonathan Richman as the singing narrator – but that was dealt with in the end. And I cheered. Also, as a bonus (as if it needed one), the closing credit sequence was just beautiful, taking all sorts of scenes and having the characters sing and dance both in and out of character. It was goofy and silly and looked like a whole lotta fun to be a part of.