There’s Something About Mary (1998)

theres something about mary poster 1998 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Non-PC, all-out comedy

May be too crude for some

Movie Info

Movie Name:  There’s Something About Mary

Studio:  20th Century Fox

Genre(s):  Comedy/Romance

Release Date(s):  July 15, 1998

MPAA Rating:  R

theres something about mary franks and beans zipper ben stiller

How did you get the beans above the frank?

Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) has a problem.  When he was in high school he met a girl named Mary (Cameron Diaz) who, despite being out of his league, gave him the chance of a lifetime to go on a date to prom…which he promptly ruined in a tragic accident.  Ted has spent his life wondering “what if” and decides to track Mary down to answer that question once and for all.  At the suggestion of his friend Dom Woganowski (Chris Elliot), Ted hires a private eye named Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to locate Mary…but there’s something about Mary, and Healy falls in love with her also.  Now the game is on as Healy and Ted vie for Mary’s attention but the situation is complicated by the arrival of a third player in Mary’s friend Tucker (Lee Evans).  Will Tucker, Healy, or Ted win Mary’s heart or will a mysterious flame from the past named come out on top?

Directed Peter and Robert Farrelly (aka the Farrelly Brothers), There’s Something About Mary is a gross-out comedy.  The movie was a big box office success and well received by critics.

theres something about mary seven minute abs ben stiller harland williams

7 minute ABS!!!

There’s Something About Mary came out when I was working at a movie theater (they gave out miniature bottles of hair gel), and I often saw chunks of it on my break when I was looking for something to watch for a bit.  As the title says, there’s something about Mary.  This movie was a good laugh when it was originally released and has maintained its humor over the years (though some of the less P.C. stuff in it is even less P.C. now).  From the initial set-up, the minstrels, and the “Build You Up, Buttercup” ending, the movie is just unique fun that still feels a step above similar comedies made at the time.

Part of the fun is a result a script that can still be smart while being crude.  The simple comedy premise is woven-in with some twists and turns.  The result is a film that feels like a throwback to earlier screwball films mixed with something like the mentality of a Porky’s or Revenge of the Nerds.  It almost feels rather Scooby-Doo at the ending when all is revealed (and he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that dog and those kids!!!)  I do think the Brett Favre joke pushes it a bit, but it does make sense with the Mary character who has stated throughout the film that she loves jocks.  It just seems like too easy of a joke for an otherwise smart film.

theres something about mary hair gel

Get your hair gel!

The real fun of the movie is the cast.  This is Cameron Diaz at her best.  This is before she became a big star and seems very approachable as Mary.  That is the key to the film, and it works…Diaz is magnetic as Mary and you can see why everyone flocks to her.  Stiller plays the goofy, uncomfortable guy perfectly…and has often played him since.  Dillon has been around for years and this helped rejuvenate his career.  Elliot is fun as “Woogie”, but felt a bit out of place among the younger cast.  Lee Evans hadn’t done much in the U.S. but the stand-up comedian is fun as Tucker.  You even have a great supporting cast with Jeffrey Tambor, Markie Post, Lin Shaye, Sarah Silverman, Richard Jenkins, Keith David, Harland Williams (and his fun hitchhiker), and W. Earl Brown as “don’t touch his ears” Warren.

theres something about mary brett favre cameron diaz chris elliott

Why do you build me up, Buttercup?

The movie plays the most from its comic timing and a lot of the gags are visuals.  From Dillon’s veneers to the legendary franks and beans scene to the hair gel, the movie is loaded with laugh-out loud moments and gag moments…that end in laughing.  It also takes the unusual approach of having things like the narrating singers, and as mentioned, I always love a movie that ends in a random musical number.

There’s Something About Mary is classic comedy, and I hope that it is revisited from time to time as a great example of one of the stronger 1990s comedies.  The movie feels like it has real staying power and feels still humorous over the years.  Though it is a solid one-shot, I could see a follow-up to There’s Something About Mary being made sometime down the line, and I actually think it could work…if the script is as solid as this one.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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