Looking for a gentle rom-com that won't offend anyone?
Then move along please, there's nothing for you here as we're discussing 'There's Something About Mary' as the 1998 released comedy arrives on Blu-ray.
This movie has been around long enough for it to have gathered a loyal following and for some sequences to have gained a certain notoriety.
In their quest for laughs, the mischievous Farrelly brothers chose to pick on not only the mentally and physically challenged, but also those who suffer from nervous hives, teeth brace wearers and small dogs. I suppose they thought they'd leave religion for another day.
The result is a movie that relies on its ability to shock, embarrass and generally make the audience feel that they're glad they're not in the same situation as the on-screen character whose predicament they're witnessing. Psychologically they got it right, as we do laugh when we see someone fall off their seat and land painfully on the floor. We do this quite naturally as we are so glad we didn't do it ourselves. It's only later that we consider the fact that the victim may have hurt themselves, but we still struggle to stifle our mirth.
So, now that we know it's only natural to find such things funny, we can tell the PC brigade to go inflict their self righteous views on someone else and get on with having a good laugh in the worst possible taste.
Ben Stiller plays Ted, a nice 'loser' at school, complete with shiny teeth brace, who can't believe his luck when the gorgeous Mary (Cameron Diaz) suggests that he be her Prom date. Arriving at her home in a brown tuxedo (looking like one of the Osmonds) Ted makes the mistake of touching her mentally handicapped brother Warren's (W. Earl Brown) ears which kicks off the chaos with an impromptu wrestling match.
He goes to the loo to treat a split lip and, while there, avails himself of the toilet. As he does so he gazes out the open window to see Mary changing her dress with the help of her mother. Naturally, they see him and reach the wrong conclusion.
Things go from bad to worse as he hastily zips up his flies, trapping his 'frank and beans' painfully in the process.
At this point, the legs of every male in the audience snap together in an involuntary spasm.
While this might not sound very funny (particularly to guys), in visual terms it is - as the embarrassment and humiliation of poor Ted escalates beyond belief.
We flash (ahem) forward 13 years and he decides to hire a sleazy Private Investigator to find Mary, the love of his life. Unfortunately the PI, Pat Healy, played by Matt Dillon also falls for Mary upon finding her in Florida.
There's a hilarious scene where Dillon's character drugs Mary's flatmate's objectionable little dog which ushers it on to an apparently early demise. He then attempts to jump start the rigid dog with an electric flex ripped from a table lamp and in the process causes the dog to instantaneously combust.
To dog lovers this will be sick humour, but I'm ashamed to admit I almost cracked a rib at this point. One of the tag lines for the movie at its time of release was, 'No animals were harmed in the making of this movie - everyone else was on their own'.
The attack on the physically handicapped follows as we meet Norm (played by Britain's own Lee Evans) who is infatuated with Mary, claims to be an architect and gets around on crutches.
The scene with him attempting to pick up a dropped pencil is like watching Bambi on ice and is a classic vaudeville routine. Everyone is fair game here.
Each of Mary's suitors does his best to knock the other out of the running by various forms of skulduggery and underhanded behaviour.
To keep the movie rolling along, it is linked by a pair of strolling minstrels (Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins) in a homage to Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole in the wonderful 'Cat Ballou'. Their ballad style numbers help introduce sequences and signify scene changes while perhaps taking the harshness off some parts.
Will Ted win the heart of Mary?
It doesn't matter, it's funny anyway!
I felt guilty about laughing at some of the cruel, callous humour in 'There's Something About Mary' but the other half of me wanted to bury my conscience and just laugh like a drain. Of course I'd have the good taste to feel bad about it.
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