THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998)
A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2004
In 1990s Hollywood was slowly becoming prudish and stuff like sex
and violence began to disappear from the big screen. The only area
where the filmmakers were still able to shock the audience was
comedy. Comedies were never supposed to be taken seriously and,
therefore, their content could hardly have any potentially harmful
influence on the viewers and real world. Spared from censorship,
1990s Hollywood comedies were becoming raunchier and raunchier,
always trying to push the boundaries of acceptable on-screen content.
Two filmmakers who exploited this freedom to its fullest were
brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly. Their 1998 film THERE'S
SOMETHING ABOUT MARY became one of the most successful and
most influential films of the genre that would later become known as
"gross out comedy".
The film begins in 1985 with Ted Stroehmann (played by Ben Stiller),
geeky high school student whose dream comes true when angelic
Mary Jensen Matthews (played by Cameron Diaz) chooses him to
become her prom date. What was supposed to be the best night of
Ted's life turns into absolute disaster due to painful and humiliating
accident. Thirteen years later Ted still can't get Mary out of his head
and, with the advice of his friend Dom (played by Chris Elliott),
decides to find Mary with the help of private investigator Pat Healy
(played by Matt Dillon). Healy takes the job, finds Mary in Florida,
immediately falls in love with her and decides to cheat his client.
While Mary experiences many strange events caused by Healy's
unconventional seduction techniques, Ted becomes suspicious of
detective's honesty and decides to come to Florida himself.
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY is best remembered for the
scene which finally established certain bodily fluid as the legitimate
content of mainstream Hollywood movies. This scene isn't the only
one to challenge the notion of good taste in 1990s American cinema -
the scene in the film's prologue also brings new definition of "toilet
humour" with the gag that strikes perfect balance between humour
and sadism. Those and other scenes are so effective that even those
critics unfriendly to Farrellys and their brand of humour had to
admit that they laughed hard while watching. Those two scenes,
however, aren't the reason why THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT
MARY became one of the most successful comedies of 1990s
The real reason could be found in very good script (co-authored with
Ed Decter and John J. Strauss) which successfully brought all that
gross-out and "politically incorrect" humour into the genre frame of
romantic comedy. Furthermore, characters, no matter how pathetic
they act or look, are presented as real human beings with whom
audience can empathise. This is the work of the excellent ensemble
cast. The greatest discovery is, of course, Cameron Diaz who had
already shown that she could handle romantic comedy by wiping the
floor with Julia Roberts in MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING. Here she
radiates beauty, humanity and humour and protagonist's (and
everyone else's) infatuation with her character is easily
understandable. Another pleasant surprise comes in the form of Matt
Dillon who also exploited rare opportunity for purely comedic role.
Ben Stiller and Chris Elliott are also good, as well as Farelly's old
associate Lin Shaye in the memorable role of Mary's friend Magda.
The most charming role belongs to musician Johnathan Richman as
this film's version of Greek Chorus.
Of course, not all jokes in this film work and the humour is definitely
not for everyone. But THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY is more
than groundbreaking film. It also represents two very entertaining
hours - something that Hollywood comedies these days fail to
deliver to the audience, with or without references to certain bodily
RATING: 6/10 (++)
Review written on April 26th 2004
Dragan Antulov a.k.a. Drax
http://film.purger.com - Filmske recenzije na hrvatskom/Movie Reviews in
http://www.ofcs.org - Online Film Critics Society
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