There's Something About Mary (1998)
July 17, 2023 9:09 PM - Subscribe

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.

Ted's (Ben Stiller) dream prom date with Mary (Cameron Diaz) never happens due to an embarrassing injury at her home. Years later, Ted hires Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to track down Mary so he can reconnect with her. Pat lies to Ted about Mary and he finds out everything he can about her to trick her into dating him. Ted travels to meet Mary and has to weave through the web of lies that Pat and Mary's friend Tucker (Lee Evans) have woven to try and win her over.

Margaret A. McGurk: Those scenes may cause you to gag or scream with laughter, but they also take you out of the movie. Like nudity, gross visual humor can be entertaining, but it's mostly distracting. It severs the emotional link between audience and characters.

In this case, that's a loss, because the cast is well chosen and committed to the lunatic tale, which revolves around the difference between love and stalking.

Elspeth Haughton: The Farrellys push the limits of vulgarity until you think it can't get worse. Despite an unevenness between the serious and the absurd, such as one of Ted's sentimental speech, the writer-director team is expert at building the inane into a wild, colorful circus. There's something about this movie that works.

Rachel Vorona Cote: Having emerged from this masturbatory hellscape, I can report (or just confirm) some of the Farrelly brothers’ most cherished topics: 1) male genitalia, 2) male genitalia in distress, 3) murdering small- to medium-size animals, 4) mocking disability—and any marginalized identity, really, 5) men stalking women without meaningful consequences, and 6) intense gay panic.

In the context of There’s Something About Mary, which is categorized as a “romantic comedy,” men stalking women without meaningful consequences is the most prevalent. Referring to this movie as romantic, whimsical, or even good-natured constitutes a first-order definitional crime, though the film smugly believes itself to be a love story and encourages its viewers to regard it as such. Stalking, in the world of the Farrelly brothers, only constitutes dangerous behavior in the most extreme circumstances. More than likely it’s the starry-eyed blunder of a man confounded by his own sexual awkwardness. But all is easily remedied through—what else?—a felicific relationship with the object of his fixation.

posted by Carillon (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Like all Farrelly movies I've seen, there's a much better movie in here trying to get out. I haven't seen Greenbook or the second Dumb and Dumber, but this certainly hasn't aged well at all. I think it's the best of theirs that I've seen, but that's damning with faint praise. It has a decent critical response, which is surprising to me. Like Kingpin, if they could actually engage with the obsessive nature of the men they are characterizing accurately, and show costs or at least the impact that it can have, it could be great. But they don't, and certainly not here. This benefits from the fact that the cast is solid, the chemistry is generally there. I generally love more slapstick style humor too, and I wish this could be funnier.
posted by Carillon at 9:14 PM on July 17, 2023

Apparently they were handing out free sachets of hair gel to the audience on opening night.
posted by rongorongo at 12:49 AM on July 18, 2023 [2 favorites]

Yeah, definitely a solid example of "rom/com == stalking" as a genre. I haven't seen it since shortly after its release, and I don't feel a need to see it again because I expect that the annoying things will only continue to annoy me. I remember thinking when I saw it that a surprising portion of the humor involving the developmentally disabled brother was punching up and making fun of the *other* folks.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:21 AM on July 18, 2023 [1 favorite]

Perennial Onion repost: Romantic-Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested

A lot of comedy plots are pretty thin--the default movie plot for a comedian known for their impressions seems to be the dubious premise "dissociative identity disorder is funny, actually"--but the Farrelly Bros. really phone it in: Wikipedia notes that "Each of the brothers' first four films (Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There's Something About Mary, and Me, Myself & Irene) has a plot centering on a road trip. These trips all originate in Rhode Island, except for Kingpin, which begins in Pennsylvania." I've only seen this film and D&D, and saw them some time after the more memeable bits (e.g. the "hair gel") had gotten popular online, and I have a hard time remembering anything about the movies or their characters except for that bit; before reviewing the plot, I had completely forgotten that Chris Elliott was also in this movie, and that is a problem that I've never had before with anything that he's been in. I did remember that Jonathan Richman would occasionally show up and sing something that wasn't "Roadrunner", which was nice, but not really related to the movie.

Also, Rachel Vorona Cote is completely correct when she notes that the title of the movie is victim-blaming, or at least absolving stalkers of any responsibility for their behavior.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:14 AM on July 18, 2023

Having aged out of edgelord comedy long ago, I'm wary of even rewatching this. Even aside from the problematic view of stalking=love, doesn't W. Earl Brown play a man with mental disabilities? How does that look in 2023, I wonder...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:37 AM on July 18, 2023

This movie made me feel really out of step with my peers, in that I didn't super HATE it, but I absolutely did not get why everyone loved it so much. For reference of what peers I mean, I was a cishet dude in college in the South at the time. I'm pretty sure now I would super hate it.

(Dumb and Dumber, too. I do remember liking Kingpin a lot, though.)
posted by solotoro at 11:23 AM on July 18, 2023 [1 favorite]

they were handing out free sachets of hair gel to the audience on opening night.

Yes. I still have one. "100% hand-made", according to the label.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 1:14 PM on July 18, 2023 [3 favorites]

I worked at a theatre at the time, and I made sure to be in the screening for the audience reaction at both the zipper reveal and the hairgel reveal. So entertaining.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 1:16 PM on July 18, 2023

I read how the number of people able to label behaviour as “gaslighting” is now much larger than those who saw the film that gave it its name. Human sexuality being the pervasive and varied thing it is, it is fun to think of all those who have never seen There’s Something About Mary but still realise why Cameron Diaz is being invoked as their patron saint when they get something definitely-not-gel in their hair.
posted by rongorongo at 3:23 PM on July 18, 2023

This movie made me feel really out of step with my peers

This movie, and the hair gel scene in particular, makes me feel out of step with everyone--I remember hearing from people that it was the funniest movie ever, just incredible, etc. etc. But I truly don't get what's funny about a woman finding some unknown viscous substance, deciding to put it in her hair (she's so stupid, get it?!), and walking out of the bathroom with that hair swipe standing straight up vertically over her forehead. That is not a style!! Nobody would walk out of the bathroom looking like that!

I get that the whole point is it's a) jizz and b) needs to be a visual gag, but it's so far removed from any recognizable reality that it might as well be Ernest Goes to Camp (which is funnier, actually, imho).
posted by knotty knots at 9:37 PM on July 18, 2023 [2 favorites]

So - this movie came up the other day... organically...

For her extremely curly hair, my partner uses a very thick leave-in hair conditioner that well, *cough* looks almost exactly like... jizz... So... her mother needed help with her hair, so... she loaned her the bottle. Instead of pouring some in her hands and rubbing them together to spread it out, and then apply it to her whole head of hair, she just kind of gooped it onto one side...

... I came around the corner to see the result of this activity, and it took ALL of my willpower to not shout out loud;

"Hey, There's Something About Marylin!" (you can guess the name of my MIL)

*But, other than that, I have never though of this film and it's squicky scene since the one - and only time - I watched it, when it was first released to DVD.
posted by rozcakj at 11:08 AM on July 19, 2023

I watched this once and only remember the fact that Jonathan Richman was in it. Nice to see him out of context!
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:35 AM on July 21, 2023

This is on cable TV all the time, it's pretty rote by now. Funnily enough, it feels trite in the same way that the (also Farrelly/Stiller) The Heartbreak Kid remake does.

Dumber and Dumber To is legit good. I still like a lot about the first one, and the middle detour I haven't seen all the way through.
posted by rhizome at 1:07 AM on August 4, 2023

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