Raphael Pour-Hashemi has reviewed the Region 2 release of There’s Something About Mary.
A classic and extremely funny film from the Farrellys which is definitely their best work and should be picked up right away by visual humour pundits.
The Farrelly Brothers excelled at making stupid, gross comedies appealing to the pubescent male market. Films such as Kingpin and Dumb & Dumber contained rare moments of hilarity surrounded by weak outer scripting. However, with There’s Something About Mary, the Farrelly’s outdid their previous efforts, and produced a gross-out comedy that could appeal to adults and sustain a near two hour running time.
With his dumbwit charm and loveable geek persona, Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) lucks out when an act of bravery inspires high school sweetheart Mary Jensen (Cameron Diaz) to ask him to the school prom. Whilst picking up Mary from her house on the night of the prom, Ted becomes involved in a freak zipper accident in her bathroom, and his resultant rush to hospital causes him to miss the prom, and miss his dream chance with Mary. Years later, an adult Ted has never overcome this traumatic night, and makes plans to track Mary down to try and amend his embarrassing moment. Ted hires cowboy detective Pat Healy (Matt Dillon in an inspired piece of weird casting) to track Mary down, and Healy’s intimate detecting methods lead him to fall for Mary himself. Soon Ted learns he is being thrown off the scent by Healy, and decides to take matters into his own hands to woo back his high school love.
Although many comedy connoisseurs prefer gross out material centred on younger characters, There’s Something About Mary is a modern day comedy classic. The characters are developed assuredly, and the scripting and dialogue feels so tight and on the nail that the pacing and comedy moments flow thick and fast for nearly two hours (impressive given the usual eighty nine minute running times associated with comedies of this nature). What makes this effort so much better than the Farrellys’ work before and since, is the structuring of the main character. Ben Stiller is a gifted comedy actor, but is essentially playing Ted straight, with the comedy and gags exploding around him. This is in complete contrast to Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber or indeed Me, Myself & Irene, in which Carrey’s abundant visual humour weakens the overall impact. The love interest and object of all desires Mary, played by Cameron Diaz, is not presented as the unoriginal just-a-pretty-face but is actually given a likeable personality and down-to-earth charm, and this is an essential implementation. To top it all off, the third character Healy, played by Matt Dillon, is also perfect for the film. Dillon inside afraid to make a fool of himself, and Healy’s ignorant detective is fully three-dimensional and not just a cartoon stereotype, and we sympathise with him despite his villainy status. This is the same for all of the characters, and their perfect realisation, with an obvious comedy slant, elevates There’s Something About Mary from the rest of the nineties comedy field. Essex boy comic Lee Evans even manages to steal the show on the occasions he is featured.
Production wise, the film has a wonderfully bright and colourful look, and credit should be bestowed upon gifted cinematographer Roger Kumble, who later went on to direct and write Cruel Intentions. This look helps give proceedings a cheerful complement, and the Farrelly’s exploit this perfectly.
There’s Something About Mary is a wonderfully sweet romantic drama with an overbearing amount of goofy gags that doesn’t pander to political correctness. It lacks sexy teen starlets of American Pie, but still maintains the sperm jokes.
Presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen, the picture is tremendous, especially as this was one of Fox’s first DVD releases and that the R1 version wasn’t anamorphic. The colouring is bright and vivid and the definition is sharp and complementary of the film. This is one of those visual films that clearly benefits from widescreen as opposed to pan-and-scan.
Although the soundtrack doesn’t necessarily require a 5.1 mix, one is still provided, and the mix gives much room to the dialogue and songs that fill the soundtrack with some surround elements incorporated.
Menu: The menu is colourful and in keeping with the film, but is essentially static with a few small bits of stop motion animation. Don’t forget though, that this was before the days of the likes of Ghostbusters on DVD release, which set the way for moving menus.
Packaging: A minimalist artwork sleeve featuring Cameron Diaz on the cover, housed in an amaray casing with no booklet. The chapter listing is printed on the reverse of the inlay, and can be seen due to the transparent casing.
Commentary With Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly: This is an amusing commentary, filled with interesting anecdotes from the Farrellys. It serves as a guide as to who played each character and why, be it a star part or a walk on, with reasons ranging from the Farrellys liking that actor or just because they members of their family! The commentary isn’t a riot like Airplane!, but still brings a smile to your face.
Build Me Up Buttercup – Music Video: If you’ve watched the movie, you will now that end credits contains an excellent tie-in music video of the cast singing along to the Foundation’s late sixties classic Build Me Up Buttercup. The video is hilarious, and contains many outtakes from the film. It also is slightly different from the end credit version to make it more TV friendly, such as the sequence where Matt Dillon gropes Cameron Diaz being omitted.
Karaeoke Build Me Up Buttercup – Music Video: Quite simply, the music video, but with the lyrics on screen inviting you to sing along! Complete with Puffy The Dog as a lyric guide!
Behind The Zipper With Magda – Featurette: A four minute featurette, hosted in character by Magda, which is completely surreal and delves into the traumas involved in getting your member stuck in your zipper, with a few promotional clips thrown in for good measure. Yes, this is original, but surely a proper ‘making of’ would have been nice!
Theatrical Trailer: The trailer did pack them into the cinemas in droves, but be warned, it does spoil some of the best jokes.
A comedy classic from the nineties, given sparse yet surprisingly good extras, There’s Something About Mary is certainly a film to dig out on a depressing day, as it will fill you with warmth, hilarity and a catchy Foundations song that you won’t stop singing.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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