There's Something About Mary (15)

Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Starring Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, Daniel Stern.

The Farrelly brothers, responsible for Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin, return with another film notable for real lows of taste and grossness. Although despite the bad taste, this is quite an enjoyable and sweet natured film.
Stiller plays Ted, who has been in love with his high school sweetheart Mary since the prom and decides to track her down. They had not parted on the best of terms after Ted had an nasty accident involving his zip and his penis when picking Mary up on Prom night. Blood and hospitalization meant an end to their budding relationship. Now, Still hires private eye Matt Dillon to find Mary, but when he sees her, he falls for her too and gives Ted a false report. Despite this, he decides to head on down and see her anyway. Dillon is lying to Mary to try and get her into bed, while Stiller also tries to woo her. Who will she choose?
If you have heard of this film you probably know of the two "highlights". To be honest, I found the very physical and schoolboy humour a real turn off. The opening where Stiller gets "stuck" is stupid enough, but when we are actually shown the zipper in question, it really is disgusting. Similarly, the later scene when Stiller gets a little relief at his own hands, then Mary mistakes the fluid for hair gel is just revolting and unfunny. I was all set to hate this film, as I seem to be the only person around that hated Dumb abd Dumber. However, this time we have likable and interesting characters. Diaz is sweet and gorgeous as always, Stiller makes an amiable enough stooge and Matt Dillon is really great as the slimy private eye. Brit Lee Evans does quite well, although over acts a bit- however, this is no subtle comedy. Over the top moments are rather hit and miss, walking a dodgy line between funny and offensive. Mary's neighbour is a grotesque lady whose horrid little dog provides some of the funnier moments, although dog lovers may disagree. Mary's handicapped brother is almost portrayed well, but humour at the expense of the handicapped is cheap to be honest- an attitude that is re-inforced by the portayal of Lee Evans character falling over when using his crutches. Daniel Stern's skin infection is shown in disgusting pus popping detail.
On the plus side, I loved the 16 year old Stiller and Diaz- all teeth braces and 1980s clothes. Both actors convinced as the teens, all awkward and shy. Cameron Diaz is always going to be a selling point. She has taken over from Julia Roberts as the ideal movie girl. So nice and sweet and genuine that women can't hate her, and undeniably beautiful with that dazzling smile that men can't resist. It is entirely believable that there can be five men all desperate for her love facing each other at the end. The only unbelievable thing is that she would still be available. Diaz's real life boyfriend at the time, Matt Dillon seems to have been around for ages, and usually plays blue collar honest working joes. Here, he is excellent as the sneaky but charming detective, who blatently manipulates Diaz.
I still am not a fan of the Farrelly brothers, I find the humour too juvenile. I also think the humour is very male- I know many men who loved Dumb and Dumber and this, whereas some women couldn't stand either. Call it toilet humour, schoolboy humour, whatever. It is offensive at times, but at least this film was funny. I expected to hate this film and only very reluctantly paid my money. However, because I was expecting a gross out movie, I was pleasantly surprised at the likable characters and appealling story. I was able to ignore most of the vulgarity and bad taste and enjoy the film as a bit of slapstick. Nicely filmed and well acted. If you aren't easily offended you might like it. 6/10.

September 1998

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