"A fitfully funny but not particularly inspired romantic comedy"
There's certainly something about bodily function humor.There are two kinds of "stupid" movies. There are movies that appear to be stupid on the surface yet are actually canny, knowing parodies (Airplane!, The Naked Gun) and there are movies that the writers and directors lobotomize long before the script is ever handed to an actor.
The Farrelly Brothers wield their scalpels like they've just been dropped into Bellevue and given a time limit.
I won't go into how dismally unfunny their previous work is, I'll just stick to "There's Something About Mary," a romantic comedy without a whole lot of romance and comedy that hits about as much as it misses.
Ben Stiller, looking lost, plays Ted, a guy who pines for Mary (Cameron Diaz), a hottie who was actually nice to him in high school. He hires an unscrupulous private eye, Pat Healy (aka Matt Dillon), who tracks Mary down but, like every man who has ever crossed paths with her, also decides he wants her. Hilarity ensues, most of it at the expense of the physically and mentally disabled.
Don't get me wrong, there are laughs, even a few good ones, but not enough to justify the box office this movie rang up. The angry dog jokes are overdone, Dillon's character overstays his welcome, and most of the gross-outs are just gross.
I did enjoy Keith David and Chris Elliott in fairly small parts (David's is essentially a cameo), though no one else in the cast seems to have set their comic timer with any consistency. Diaz is likeable enough as Mary and essentially plays the "straight man" for all the action around her. Stiller never really convinces as being a dynamic enough guy for Mary to want to have around. If he's supposed to be a writer, and therefore have artistic and intellectual sensibilities in movie shorthand, he never shows it.
No matter what I say, I realize there are people who eat this kinda stuff up, and if you liked the Farrelly Brothers' previous work, you'll like this one, too. "There's Something About Mary" is probably top-to-bottom their strongest work yet, but I'm probably still being generous by giving it three stars.There's only so many times you laugh at these jokes in high school before they stop being funny.