Sunday, October 11, 2009

There's Something About Mary

There's Something About Mary; Romantic comedy, USA, 1998; D: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, S: Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Chris Elliott, Lee Evans, Lin Shaye, Jeffrey Tambor

Not even 13 years after an accident prevented him to go out to prom night with her can Ted forget about his dream girl Mary. he thus fires a sleazy private detective, Healy, to find her. Healy finds her in Miami, but since he himself falls in love with her, he lies to Ted that she became fat and has 4 kids. But that doesn't stop Ted and he meets up with her again. Since numerous men all tell incredible lies just to be with her, like 'architect' Tucker, Ted has a hard time. But when Ted finds her ex-boyfriend and gives up on her so that she can just have a good life, she decides to be with him.

It's interesting how the Farrelly brothers managed to even in their 3rd film make a cult hit out of gross-out humor, but even their mediocre comedies can sometimes be funnier than some excellent one. Let's straighten some things out - "There's Something About Mary" is a broad comedy, a simple comedy and the first 15 minutes of it are close to rubbish, but the minute Healy (Dillon) finds the title heroine in Miami and starts observing her behavior, does it become clear that there really is something about this film that separates it from other cheap comedies - namely, Mary is such a contagiously positive, sweet and dear character that she is irresistibly charming, especially in the scene where she is nice to the mentally handicapped people by giving them hamburgers, giggling so honestly that it melts you away. Mary is probably the best female characters to ever come out of a Farrelly brothers movie. Cameron Diaz plays her wonderfully, for which she even won the New York Film Critics Award as best actress.

It really is a pity that the story is so crude, and not more smoothly crafted and romantic, yet some of the most hilarious jokes in it really hit you one way or the other - like in the scene where Healy gave too much tranquillizers to the dog whose heart subsequently stopped beating, so he quickly takes out two wires from a lamp and crafts an improvised defibrillator, giving the pet electroshocks. After every electroshock, the paralyzed dog's body jumps up in the air, while sparks fly all around it. In the end, the sparks even cause a fire on dog's fur (!), though it does get re-animated. Healy's "dialogue wars" with architect Tucker are also a blast. And here the Farrellys succeeded in the impossible - the legendary scene where Mary mistakes sperm on Ted's ear for 'hair gel' and puts it on her hair is a rare kind of almost poetic vulgarity. They always were defenders of outsiders and losers, which is why "Mary" is at its chore even an emotional love story, despite the 'rough' and heavy handed details here and there, which is why the film still holds up surprisingly well and enjoys cult status.


No comments: