Sunday, May 25, 2008

Movie I Should Have Seen Years Ago But Didn’t: There’s Something About Mary

One of the reasons I avoided watching this movie for years was because I knew there was a very good chance I would hate it, but I ultimately decided it was canonical enough that I ought to see it. Predictably, it was pretty terrible. However, I will add a couple of clarifying notes beyond that.

First, the opening scene where high school Ben Stiller somehow manages to zip over his genitals in the bathroom of prom date Cameron Diaz is simply unwatchable – truly one of the worst movie scenes there is – it’s painful, but not in the British comedy – painful by funny way. Just bad.

Another thing which is hard to watch and I never understand which happens in movies and TV all the time is when characters make clearly unsustainable lies, such as when Matt Dillon lies about being an architect and going to Harvard. Now, I certainly understand why you’d lie if you thought it would help, but at least think through the lie enough that it can’t be found out incredibly easily. I mean, think just a short bit down the road. Even within a few weeks, she's bound to find out some of these things aren't true. If you make, smart, realistic lies, you can at the very least hold out a few months.

The movie also contains one of my least favorite types of comedic scenes – the one where two different people in a room think they’re talking about the same thing, but they’re really not, leading to hilarious consequences, such as when Ben Stiller is arrested for murder, and he thinks he’s being arrested for taking in a hitchhiker. Comic gold.

The fake-architect pizza boy friend of Mary’s is an incredibly irritating character to watch, and the scene where he attempts to pick up his keys with the crutches is brutal.

One institution that should be added to movies is a quota on certain types of jokes. Like, say, jokes about feces. You get one, so you better make it really great, because then you’re done. There’s Something About Mary way exceeds their quote in jokes made about mentally retarded people. Could one or two be funny? Sure. Do about 12-15 get more than tiring? You bet.

Anyway, the second half is not as bad, but the damage is done – most of it is really not as impossible to watch as the first scene, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely pleasant either.

Two small positives of note are first the strange fact that Mary appears to be watching George Michael's Sports Machine early in the movie. Secondly, I wholeheartedly agree with Mary’s view sometime in the second half of the movie when she says there should be more foods on sticks. Too true, too true. Oh, also, it's good to see Jonathan Richman with work.

I know I shouldn’t really be surprised by this, and maybe this speaks to the place this movie has had in popular culture, but I felt like I had really seen all the big scenes in the movie just by watching tv and such over the years – I just kind of thought there would be more to it, like each famous scene I had seen was just one of five things just like it in the movie. I also thought there would be more kind of one-upping between Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon, competing with each other.

Also this was the movie that really made Ben Stiller a star, and was really the birthplace of the Ben Stiller-character, that annoying nervous clumsy guy who can't do anything right. For the creation of this, the movie should also be reprimanded.

Stupid physical humor and sight gags are probably not my favorite type of humor, but there are definitely many times I enjoy it – I love Mr. Bean, dammit, and there’s something like a word per episode. However, Something About Mary not so good.

1 comment:

waldinho said...

a. kingpin is a much better flim. and stuck on you (from what i remember, i was quite wasted while watching it) was surprisingly watchable