There’s Something About Mary (1998) – 52 in 52: Film 3


“IT MAY NOT BE A TYPICAL ROMCOM…”

POSTO

A couple of days ago, it was of course St. Valentine’s Day and what better way to celebrate it than to watch a romantic comedy. But we didn’t want to watch any old soppy, sugary-sweet romcom. We decided to give The Farrelly Brother’s There’s Something About Mary the Reviewinators treatment.

Ben Stiller starts the story as Ted, a typical high-school nerd with shaggy hair and a mouth full of braces; an air of awkwardness tends to follow him around. The beautiful Mary, played by Cameron Diaz, holds his affections and as the two start to connect, he is outwardly surprised when she asks him to the upcoming prom after she reveals she has currently split from her sportier boyfriend. Excited, he rocks up in his brown suit ready for a night he will never forget. After a faux pas with Mary’s special needs brother and a painful zipper accident that involves Mary’s step-father, mother, a police officer, a fireman and a resulting trip to the emergency room, Ted is left still pining after what could have been… Thirteen years on. Under advice from his best friend Dom (played by Chris Elliot), he hires a sleazy detective to track down Mary after she moved from Rhode Island to Miami to become an orthopaedic surgeon. Sleazy detective Patrick (Matt Dillon) uses his sly skills to find her and soon realises that he would be better off with Mary rather than the loner Ted. Patrick soon starts spinning lies and makes for Miami to beat Ted at his own game using the information he gathered whilst stalking her. After realising he has been left for a schmuck, the awkward Rhode Islander drives to Miami to confront Patrick and win Mary back. Cue another awkward encounter with the police and a bail out from Dom, the two of them head off to Miami to continue Ted’s mission. Ted finds out the hard way that he isn’t the only one fighting for Mary’s affections. Not only is he fighting off Patrick but also four other guys and so must work out a way to overcome them and be the better man even if he may be vastly outnumbered by the competition.

There’s Something About Mary isn’t the usual bawdy, teen movie that where rife in the era. There are the sweet sentiments to it but the cringe-worthy comedic aspects make it a fun film to watch” says Jimmi, “especially with the famous ‘hair gel’ fiasco; we can’t not mention that” Kat adds. You can’t help but laugh at poor Ted’s expense when he picks up a questionable hitchhiker and has to explain to the police why he did it. Or even a speed-infused dog that Patrick tries to desperately resuscitate by any means necessary. Hilarity will always ensue. “I thought it was a bit over the top sometimes but that was to be expected with a film of this nature” Kat mentions. Each character may have their reasons to batter ten shades out of each other but Mary always tries to be all things to all people. Stiller and Diaz have a great chemistry; Ben Stiller’s usual awkward and shy self is the ying to Diaz’s confident, smart but outgoing yang. Add that to Dillon’s portrayal of the greasy Patrick; Lee Evan’s elasticity of the dubious British architect, Tucker; Dom’s true identity and Mary’s disabled brother Warren (W. Earl Brown) serving as almost a catalyst between the different character types, you’ve got a very odd set of people that play the best to their jokes extremely well.

It’s easy to see why this film has been described as a ‘sleeper hit’ but despite being almost seventeen years old now, the sentiment and the laughs are still there. There may be elements that are in your face and some that you have to watch through your fingers – not as much as, say, the ‘American Pie’ series – but when it wants to be sweet and charming, it doesn’t distract it from being a good romcom. It may not be a typical romcom that follows the same soppy structure that some others do where they become too dramatic and you can feel your heart become a dead weight; and there are times where it could have slipped into either category so keeping it balanced kept the hilarity up. Admittedly there are the slow build up’s to pivotal moments but when it does eventually reach them; it gets incredibly wacky and left us crying with laughter. It may come across as slightly run of the mill with little sense of urgency but it ticks all the correct boxes; it’s fairly satisfying. We’re just confused as to how it managed to slip under the radar on us for so long…

Words by Jimmi and Kat

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