There’s Something About Mary - * * * 1/2*

Peter and Bobby Farrelly (the creators of Dumb and Dumber, and Kingpin) have turned their sights onto a romantic comedy. And in There’s Something About Mary, the masters of bad taste have managed to create a surprisingly good film, their best work to date.

Ben Stiller plays Ted, a writer, who is still struggling with a teenage crush formed thirteen years ago. Back then, he, a pathetic loser, fell in love with Mary (Cameron Diaz), the most beautiful girl in school. Alas, fate intervened and kept them apart, but Ted has been stricken ever since.

Following the advice of his best friend (Chris Elliott), Ted hires a sleazy private detective named Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to track down his long lost love. However, when Pat finds her, he discovers there’s something about Mary that makes just about every man fall in love with her. Pat decides to forget about Ted and pursue Mary himself.

This may sound like your typical run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, but don’t be fooled. The Farrelly brothers have applied their unique comic sensibilities, and manage to toe one step further over the line.

There’s Something About Mary is crude, vulgar, offensive, and in exceedingly bad taste, but it’s painfully funny. Not every joke hits its intended target, but plenty of them do.

Unlike the previous Farrelly films, the characters aren’t merely stupid people doing stupid things. Instead, there’s actually some time spent developing the characters. Granted, they still are pretty flat, but it is a giant step forward. Surprisingly, the additional depth makes the humor all the more funny (because we’re finally able to see it in contrast).

The cast is outstanding. Ben Stiller manages to inspire just the right amount of pity for his pathetic loser. Matt Dillon makes appropriate amounts of slime seethe from his pores. And Cameron Diaz…well, she fills the role. She doesn’t get to enjoy the comic romping of her costars, but she simply radiates charm.

If you are easily offended, skip this one, for there’s something here that’ll offend even the most jaded moviegoer. However, if you’re open for low humor (and this one gets as low as it goes), There’s Something About Mary may be the funniest movie you’ve seen in quite a while.

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