Nearly 20 years since its release and “There’s Something About Mary” holds up magnificently. A brash, crude, tender and soothing rom-com not intended for anyone with delicate sensibilities, or any sensibilities whatsoever. For those whom passion themselves on being more politically correct and astute in our heightened social age, this movie is not for you. For those who won’t feel guilty laughing at the drugging of elderly women or the sight of mentally-challenged men making fun Ben Stiller’s engorged penis, then the Farrelly Brothers would like to welcome you aboard.
The interactions in this movie feel so weird and genuine, where every character is the aloof oddball and no one is the straight man. Not even our namesake woman Mary, whom despite being charming and an all-around good person, is pretty aloof and quirky herself. It’s like a bunch of Kramers from “Seinfeld” who have gathered in Miami to win the heart of Elaine, and are all trying to out Kramer each other to do so.
When we’re lucky to see two characters share a minute or longer conversation together, it’s like witnessing an scene co-written by Shakespeare and Andy Kaufman. The tangents are so nonsensical and needless in the general scope of the plot, but make everything more fresh and lively among the way. Not everything we see is a laugh out loud moment, but everything is, without question, a funny one.
What makes “Mary” great is that it takes full comedic potential of every scene, no matter how asinine or boring. One great example is when Ben Stiller’s character, Ted, meets Healy for the first time. Healy already has the look of a pinheaded sleaze-ball, but its only until he stands up from behind his desk that we see his fly was unbuttoned and his belt unbuckled the whole time they’ve been sitting. It’s never addressed why his pants are unbuckled, we’re left to guess that he was masturbating or something. We don’t need to know that he’s been masturbating, but it’s the unanswered question that didn’t even need to be asked, why are his pants unbuckled, that is so hilarious. Those types of moments are sprinkled throughout the film, so commonplace that one may not appreciate them, even though they’re the stuff of comedic genius.
This is the Farelly’s magnum opus. There are moments in their acclaimed “Dumb in Dumber” that are genuinely there to move plot forward with no humor attached. In “Mary,” every single scene exists to provide the audience comedic benefit. It feels wholly genuine and not overloaded in the slightest because it acknowledges all of its characters, and people in general, are weird. It’s a groundbreaking, trailblazing movie that could never be made today, but we’re oh so thankful that it did in 1998.