There's Something About Mary
After awhile, it gets to be a bit much to watch movie after movie with a heavy meaning. Sure, films like Saving Private Ryan, 8mm and Enemy of the State are thought provoking and that is a major function of cinema. Still, every so often it is nice to kick back with some friends, some pizza and some beer and laugh like we did in the carefree days of high school. Theres Something About Mary is just the right kind of movie for such a purpose. It is silly, irreverent, sophomoric and most of all, funny. It is the kind of movie that will bring you back to the kind of locker-room humor that helped get most of us through high school. It is filled with one gross joke after another, a movie that does well because it does not take its self seriously yet the cast and crew are professional enough to not let the quality suffer even in the midst of rather low-brow humor.
The story is simple enough. It starts in high school where Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) cant seem to get a date for the prom. He asks a girl smoking outside the school that may, just may, consider him if every guy she wants to go with fails to ask her. With such a confidence building experience to start the movie we see that Ted is a geek. The object of his desire is Mary, (Cameron Diaz). She is sweet, beautiful, smart and just about the best girl any teenaged boy could want! He is hanging out with his friends when the local mentally challenged boy Warren, (wonderfully played by W. Earl Brown) is set up and beaten up by the local jocks. Ted rushes to his defense even though it means sharing the abuse with Warren. Little does Ted know, Warren is Marys brother. She is so thankful for Teds concern she lets him walk them home and asks Ted to the prom. Well, Ted goes to pick Mary up but the date never comes about. The reasons are best left to the viewing since any male writer will find it difficult to describe in print. Years go by, Mary moves away and Ted has never forgotten her. He winds up hiring a PI (Matt Dillion) only the PI falls in love with Mary. By the end of the movie there are no less than four people stalking Mary, lying to her and trying form of deception to win her heart. The supporting cast here is excellent with Chris Elliott as Dom, Teds best friend and Lin Shaye as Magda, Marys horribly wrinkled neighbor. No matter how strange and bizarre the characters are, most of us will be able to place a similar person in our own lives. In the end there are plot twists, expected and unexpected that will hold your attention even as you pick up that slice of pizza while you watch.
The directors, brothers Bobby & Peter Farrelly, are not new to the sophomoric approach to comedy. Their previous works include, Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin. They seem to specialize in getting rather well know actors and comedians to make absolute idiots of themselves on screen. They freely admit in the commentary track that they are winging it and that they depend upon the genius of others to make their films successful At times this seems like a way of shifting the blame for the lower brow region most of their humor falls into. Still, the brothers Farrelly do have a knack for telling a funny and offbeat story in a way that will make you laugh. You may wonder why you laughed but you will laugh. They populate their movies with many of their old stand up comic friends, particularly those hailing from Boston. As directors and writers they seem very willing to let the actors have a lot of say in how the jokes should proceed. This adds an ensemble cast feeling to the whole movie. Sort of like a very long Saturday Night Live sketch.
The DVD is well done. The sound is clear and crisp although Dolby 5.1 is rather wasted on this particular title. There is little other than ambient sound to drive the surround speakers and sub woofer. The picture is very good. The commentary track is strangely compelling to listen to. I found I had to hear the details of almost ever scene. If you want a laugh with a group of people this one is a must have.