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There’s Something About Mary (1998)

December 5, 2009

8/10 Canine Overdoses

Not my favorite Farrelly Brothers comedy, but still freakin’ hilarious. Probably my third favorite.

There’s Something About Mary is about a guy named Ted who hires a seedy private investigator to track down the whereabouts of his old High School flame, Mary, years after he blew the one chance he had with her by getting his franks and beans caught in his fly. So the private investigator finds Mary, ends up falling for her, and lies to Ted that she’s quadriplegic, morbidly obese, and wheelchair-bound so that he can have her to himself. But Ted doesn’t care, so he tracks her down himself, falls for he all over again, and before you know it, everyone’s trying to get with Mary.

So this was a pretty big movie for the Farrelly Brothers. This was the one that finally launched them into Hollywood’s stratosphere as the heavyweight kings of crude after the great Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin somehow failed to garner them that coveted title. But as much as I love Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin, it’s no mystery why Mary had everybody talking – I give you…Magda.

But aside from Magda and her banana split, this movie is just damn funny, and it’s funny on a couple different levels, too. It’s not high-brow stuff by any means, but you don’t need to be high-brow to be funny. The one thing this movie nails that a lot of comedies totally screw the pooch on is that it continually pushes the envelope without managing to gross its audience out to the point where it stops being “edgy humor” and nose-dives into “I think I just barfed in my mouth.”  Granted, there are quite a few of these moments to be found, but for all its shock value, there’s a really well-written script backing it up.

There are a lot of awesome scenes here, but the thing I like the most about Mary is its characters. You actually kind of care about Ted and Mary getting together and even though practically every person in this movie is a stalker, there’s something about them that’s kind of endearing.

I’m still back-and-forth about whether Ben Stiller is funny (there’s Zoolander, but there’s also everything else where he plays the exact same character he always does) but he’s good here as Ted; well, most of the credit here probably goes to the Farrelly brothers and all the stuff they put him through. The Ted-vs.-Magda’s-dog-on-speed scene is a classic.

But the real scene-stealer for me here is Matt Dillon as the Ted’s private eye, Healy. God, just look at those teeth! He’s painfully desperate (the Healy-trying-to-revive-Magda’s-dog scene), he’s wildly inappropriate (“Those goofy bastards are about the only thing I’ve got going”), he’s got all of the best lines, and he really seems like he’s enjoying everything about being in this movie. Dillon wasn’t much of a comedian before this role, but nonetheless, a great casting choice on the Farrellys’ behalf. The guy’s a good actor to begin with, but there’s not a chance in hell that in he’ll ever stop being Healy to me after this one.

And not counting Being John Malkovich, Mary might just be the role of Cameron Diaz’s career. Kind of a double-edged sword on that one.

Some great side-characters here from Chris Elliott and Lee Evans, too. Good god, Lee Evans was awesome in this as Tucker. That shit where he dropped the keys…too good.

Maybe it’s me, but I feel like a lot of people walk away from Mary remembering this instead of the writing behind the “hair gel”. Shock value only works for so long and the Farrelly brothers seem to know that. That “Seven-Minute Abs” dialogue between Ted and the hitcher might be my favorite part of the movie and all that has is two guys in a car…and one in a bodybag.

Man, I hope I’m not making this review heavier than it needs to be, because this isn’t really comedy you need to think all that hard to get. Yeah, it’s cringe-worthy, but it’s also filled with great comic writing and has a nice smidge of heart that was missing from the first two Farrelly efforts. It’s great to come across movies that are still funny on repeat viewings even after the shock has worn off. Such a special, special moment.

And you gotta love that cameo by “Brett”.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2009 11:27 am

    seriously, id watch matt dillon make a cup of tea

    • December 7, 2009 1:34 pm

      I actually got to watch Matt Dillon eat pizza at a restaurant in NYC not long ago. It was wildly entertaining.

  2. Branden permalink
    December 5, 2009 2:51 pm


  3. August 3, 2010 12:22 pm

    Hey, it’s dirty, and raunchy, but in a good way, and keeps you laughing. Great review! Check out mine once you get a chance dawg:

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