Eye For Film >> Movies >> There's Something About Mary (1998) Film Review
There's Something About Mary
Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray
Political incorrectness has been a boon to the laugh trade. Bad taste never did anyone any harm. The Brothers Farrelly enjoy dick-in-zip jokes and monkey spanking gags and dead dog routines and retard farce. Comedy this tacky has nowhere to go but up.
The "something" about Mary (Cameron Diaz) is that she's nice. In fact, she's better than nice. She smiles all the time, wears huggy tee shirts and tight slacks, has a thing about architecture and Nepal and cares about people less fortunate than herself.
Ted (Ben Stiller) had a crush on her in high school. Being a personality victim, with braces on his teeth and a sad git expression, he never reached first base. Thirteen years later, she's still on his mind. He hires a dodgy insurance claim investigator, Pat Healy (Matt Dillon), to find her. Healy goes to Miami and, as you would expect, falls under her spell. He tells dim Ted she's a whale in a wheelchair and forget the childhood sweetheart crap. Meanwhile he quits the surveillance racket and heads south to hone his seduction skills.
Mary could have been a brainless bimbo because the film is about other people making fools of themselves over her. Diaz provides flesh-and-blood and a modicum of character. You (almost) care. The problem is Stiller. Or rather Ted. He's such a dweeb, he doesn't deserve to be seen out of doors in daylight. Healy is far and away the best of a bad lot, mainly because Dillon is a natural at this send-up game. He gave an indication of his comedic skills in In And Out, doing a Brad Pitt piss-take. Now he's off the leash.
Lee Evans (Funny Bones, Mousehunt) is still waiting to be discovered (again). He should be the Buster Keaton of new wave cinema and yet is wasted on roles like Tucker, the disabled architect with a fast food connection. The Brothers F (Dumb And Dumber, Kingpin) cannot resist mocking physical defects. Mary has a mentally challenged brother (spastic gags) and an older woman friend (close-up of withered jugs). Ted's best buddy has a grotesque skin complaint and Evans' piece-de-resistance is picking car keys off the floor when his legs don't work.
The film has a great beginning, an okay middle and a stupid ending. The comedy isn't black enough to leave stains. Anyone who finds semen-as-hair-gel a fun idea will love it. If there aren't fart jokes, there should be. And the rest. It's that kind of gig.Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001