July 19, 1998 -- "There's Something About Mary" is the funniest movie I have seen in a long time. While it certainly isn't for all tastes, that is, there are a lot of gross jokes, and the humor isn't necessarily smart, adult or literate, it nevertheless provides a lot of laughs.
Brought to you by the same team, Bobby and Peter Farrelly, who directed "Dumb and Dumber" and "Kingpin," it follows a similar formula, but in my estimation it was far funnier than "Dumb and Dumber," and even funnier than "Kingpin."
The film stars Ben Stiller ("Reality Bites") as Ted, a guy who finds the prettiest girl in school, Mary Jenson (Cameron Diaz of "My Best Friend's Wedding") is attracted to him. As the two get ready for the prom, however, Ted has an unfortunate accident with the zipper of his fly and ends up spending a couple of weeks in the hospital. The Jensons move out of town and Mary disappears from his life.
Flashing forward 13 years, we find Ted working for the dorky Chris Elliott ("Groundhog Day") and still thinking about Mary. His boss convinces Ted to hire a private investigator, Pat Healy, (Matt Dillon), to track her down. Healy turns out to be a real scum who falls for Mary and misleads Ted so he can have her for herself.
When Ted finds out what Healy has done, he heads to Florida, where Mary lives, to set things straight. This sets off a whole chain of events with Ted trying to win back Mary from the two-faced Healy and other would-be suitors. The real star of this show is Dillon. His portrayal of the despicable Healy is inspired. The handsome Dillon manages to make himself unattractive in many inventive ways. Desperately in love, he tries everything to get Mary to love him, but no matter how hard he tries, his basic self-centered, unprincipled nature keeps coming to the surface and showing itself. It is sort of like that old Frank Zappa song, "What's the ugliest part of your body? ... I think it's your mind."
It is more than just Ted against Healy, however, the Farelly brothers (who co-wrote the script, along with Ed Decter and John J. Strauss) go to great lengths to provide unexpected plot twists. New characters keep popping up and characters you think you know end up being different than you thought they were. The comedy of errors goes on and on. While the outcome is not surprising, the path is twisted, and it takes a bit too long to get where it is going. This film rates a B+.
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