There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Synopsis: A man gets a chance to meet up with his dream girl from high school, even though his date with her back then was a complete disaster.

For more info and to watch the trailer, click here:

Who chose it: Leah

Why I chose it: This is one of those iconic 90’s movies that I never saw. Also because I love Ben Stiller and I’ve seen the infamous zipper scene a dozen times and it never stops being funny.

Brent’s Review:

“There’s Something About Mary” follows lovable loser Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) as he attempts to reconnect with his first and only love, Mary Jensen (Cameron Diaz). Ted recounts a doomed first date to a psychiatrist before seeking the counsel of his best friend, Dom (Chris Elliott), who suggests he hire a private detective to track Mary down. Ted does, but the private eye, Pat Healy (Matt Dillon), falls for Mary and tries to throw Ted off the trail while moving in on Mary himself. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that Ted has deep emotional scars from his doomed first date – namely, he zipped his genitalia into his pants just before the prom and never saw her again.

The film is written and directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, whose debut “Dumb and Dumber” took the U.S. by storm and made Jim Carrey an overnight sensation. The Farrelly Brothers followed that film with the box office bomb “Kingpin” (a fine comedy, I think) and were determined that “There’s Something About Mary” would be their go-for-broke effort before bowing out of show business. “Mary” turned out to be the most focused feature of their entire library and, not coincidentally, their funniest.

There are several notable scenes in this film – and spoiling the gag won’t lessen the comedic value. In one scene, Ted zips his genitalia into his pants before prom. In another, we watch a man nearly kill a dog with sedatives. And of course, Cameron Diaz happily signed on to a movie in which she mistakenly puts semen in her hair. Ho ho!

“There’s Something About Mary” was a summer tent-pole film and made 7.5+ times its budget at the box office in 1998. The 90s were a weird time.

The film also includes a number of off-color (as they would’ve said in the 1970’s) or politically incorrect (as they would’ve said in the 1990’s) jokes about people with mental disabilities and mixed race marriages. I might have balked at laughing at them, but the Farrelly Brothers are able to execute one crucial component of this film that lets them get away with these jokes: this film is comforting for the audience.

Beginning with a ridiculously-awful lip-sync’d love song, the film creates an atmosphere of comfort for the audience. Every shot of the film is in service to the audience and creates an environment where it’s okay to laugh in this space. This is quite an accomplishment. The film sprinkles in PG-rated asides to help create this calming atmosphere. The difference between the “shock comedy” of “Mary” and actual shock comedians like Daniel Tosh or Seth MacFarlane is this element: the Farrelly Brothers are here for good-natured ribbing; others are just mean.

“There’s Something About Mary” makes good use of sight gags and the punchlines are funny enough – and milked well enough – that it overcomes sloppy setups. Having Ben Stiller doesn’t hurt, either. This is a funny movie, but it’s not a classic. Take it or leave it.

Leah’s Review:

Sometimes, you just need to turn your brain off.

The timing of our viewing of “There’s Something About Mary” could not have been more perfect. After the much-heavy “Schindler’s List”, I needed something lighthearted and silly. And something that I didn’t need to think too much about.

Directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly are perhaps best known for their movie “Dumb & Dumber”. If you’re at all familiar with that film, you know that it is stupid-humor at its best. Most of the jokes are silly, immature, and at times, a little gross. It’s not for anyone looking for intellectual comedy. But, boy. Is it funny.

The same is true of “There’s Something About Mary”. From the unfortunate zipper accident at the film’s start to the uncomfortably funny “hair gel” scene- this movie is full of laugh-out-loud and, yes, perhaps crude and slightly offensive humor. It also has that cringe factor of a character getting themselves in too deep with hilarious results (I’m thinking here of villain/stalker Pat Healy’s web of lies that continuously gets more complicated as the movie progresses). It’s also full of surprises and, while this movie isn’t going to make you cry, will warm your heart and make you feel good after watching it.

What makes the film work so well is not only its comical script, but actors who are able to pull it off without being over the top or cheap (like so many of the bad comedies we see today- thanks Adam Sandler). Ben Stiller knows how to play the straight man and at the same time isn’t afraid to make a complete fool of himself. Cameron Diaz plays the charming, too-trusting, girl-next door flawlessly and her own comedic timing makes me wish she made more quality films. And Matt Dillon as the hapless villain is able to make you laugh no matter how horrible his character can be.

This isn’t an Oscar-worthy film. It’s not a cinematic masterpiece. But “There’s Something About Mary” does what few comedies today can: It makes use of shallow humor but knows where to draw the line. It is a genuinely funny movie that doesn’t rely solely on fart and sex jokes to make the viewer laugh-out-loud. It’s a classic 90’s romantic comedy that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a Farrelly-esc film or the work of Stiller and/or Diaz.

Up Next: We’ll be sailing uncharted territory with a film neither of us have seen yet. Nominated for Best Picture in 2011, “The Tree of Life” features an all-star cast and an intriguing plot.

Peace out, kids.


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