It’s hard to believe, but someone had to drag my ass to this movie back in 1998. I thought it was just another romantic comedy—something I’m just not fond of ever—and I have never been more emphatically proved wrong about a preconception in my life.
Of course, if I had bothered to look into it a little further, I would have known it was directed by the same people who had almost split my sides four years before with Dumb and Dumber, the Farrelly brothers.
Within minutes of this film beginning, it was evident I was going to leave the cinema sore again, and possibly have to perform CPR on the granny turning purple with laughter four isles down.
The film follows Ted (Stiller, in his career making role) a single thirty-something who has never gotten over a disastrous prom night with the girl of his dreams, Mary (Diaz). A kooky friend convinces Ted to hire a private investigator (Dillon) to locate Mary so he can either try and rekindle what once was, or finally leave the past behind. The path to true love, as they say, is ever rocky, and Ted’s painful journey is no different—but it is funnier than most.
With all the imitators and beyond that have followed in the last fourteen years, it is easy to forget just how audacious this film really was. Nostalgia may slightly blunt the razor sharp humour this film once possessed, but it shouldn’t. Back then it had been a long time since something so raunchy had hit the cinemas. Fox was taking an enormous risk, not just with the content, but with an unproven leading man, a supporting actor not known for his comedy chops, and with an actress who was not initially enthralled with how far the Farrellys wanted to cross the line. To everyone’s credit, they threw themselves at the project, and the rest is history.
This film has some of the best physical humour ever committed to screen. The riotous set pieces, included a zipped penis, a drugged dog, and a mentally challenged big brother, come thick and fast—and no one will ever forget the ‘hair gel’ moment. You barely get your breath back before the film has you pitch a fit again. On repeat viewing (I can’t even remember how many times I have seen this film) it has lost some of its effect, but even so it still makes me laugh out loud. That’s special and very rare.
This film also shows a progression in the Farrellys’ directing style with more sophisticated camera moves and a wider variation of shots than in previous entries. Editing, just like the jokes, is breakneck and helps the film deliver its unrelenting pace.
Diaz was perceived by all to be the only girl able to play Mary, and it does seem tailor made for her. She has an ease and likeability with this character I don’t think she has ever matched again (and she’s likeable in most things!). Stiller really stepped up to the plate on this one and earned his superstardom; after this he became the go to guy for self-humiliation moments, even creating a franchise with the Meet the Parents trilogy centred around his superbly executed shtick. Dillon also defied any preconceptions to masterfully create the film’s sleezeball. But by far the stand out for this reviewer is W. Earl Brown, who plays Mary’s brother Warren. He is just so damn convincing, I thought he may have actually been mentally challenged (the Farrellys have used many mentally disabled people in their films, to their credit). He is still quoted to this day: ‘frank and beans!’, and every scene he is in, he steals with ease. Lee Evans, Chris Elliot, Keith David and the whole supporting cast deserve major kudos.
If you have never seen this film, you are envied. It is one of the most deliciously wicked, piss in your pants funny comedies out there. You will finish the film sore, and you will always remember it. You can’t ask for more than that.
MPAA Rating: R for strong comic sexual content and language.
Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Writer: Ed Decter & John J. Strauss and Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly
Cast: Cameron Diaz; Matt Dillon; Ben Stiller; Chris Elliott; Jeffrey Tambor
Genre: Comedy | Romance
Tagline: Love is in the hair.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You can't forget, it's a sumo culture, Ted. They pay by the pound over there. Sorta like, um, tuna."
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
Release Date: July 15, 1998
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: May 12, 2009
Encoding: Region B/2
Synopsis: An awkward and shy high-schooler, Ted (Ben Stiller) lands a prom date with his dream girl Mary (Cameron Diaz), just to have it cut short by a painfully humiliating zipper accident. Thirteen years later he's still in love?maybe even obsessed?with the one that got away, so he hires sleazy private detective Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to track her down living in Miami, only to have Pat fall for the irresistible Mary as well. Ted and Pat resort to lying, cheating and stalking in their competition for Mary, and discover that they're not the only men who will use depraved measures to be near her.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)
Available on Blu-ray - January 11, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH; Korean; Spanish; Mandarin; Portuguese; Cantonese; Indonesian; Thai
Audio: English DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround; French DTS 5.1 Surround; Portuguese DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish DTS 5.1 Surround; Thai Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live
Hmmm, this film’s MPEG-4 AVC encode isn’t great, to be kind. The picture doesn’t register much better than the DVD. It’s inconsistent between shots, a little soft at times, and details are not the usual high-def fodder. Sound also won’t set your home cinema on fire, is very centre heavy, but does the job. There are exhaustive special features, all from previous home entertainment offerings. It’s a shame they didn’t interview the cast or do a retrospective documentary.
- Audio Commentary with directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly
- Getting behind Mary AMC Backstory: There’s Something about Mary
- Comedy Central: Reel Comedy
- Up a Tree with Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins
- Franks and Beans: A Conversation with W. Earl Brown
- Exposing Themselves: Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, Chris Elliot
- Interview Roulette with Harland Williams
- Puffy, Boobs and Balls
- Around the World with Mary