Video Review By Jack Nichols
Mary (Cameron Diaz) and Ted (Ben Stiller) in 1985:
When guys fantasized about Cyndi Lauper.
Poor Ted. He's nervous and nerdy, a guy who knows very little about making it with women. In an opening scene from There's Something About Mary, an unimpressed gal replies to Ted's prom invite: "If everything else falls apart…maybe."
There's Something About Mary is now at the video stores. This reviewer, seeing it in a theatre, laughed himself into frightening convulsions. It may be both the funniest and—at the same time-- wisest movie ever made in combo, a comedy in which the specter of ridiculous sex looms very large indeed, but whose insights into love loom even larger.
Mary herself (Cameron Diaz) is indeed beautiful. In fact, she embodies what true beauty is all about. Her girlfriends joke about wanting to meet a boyfriend who's "a deaf mute, has a three pound cock and a trust fund." Mary, however, seeks something else.
"They're just fixated on you," he tells Mary about devious suitors, "because of how you make them feel about themselves. That's not real love. I don't know what that is."
The result overall is a film awash in poignant, irreverent brilliance with a charming morality that underwrites to perfection the crazy pathos inherent in the story. The film's title song is far more entrancing, as a result, than Ave Maria, while Jonathan Richman's music—sung by a male due during explanatory Shakespearean interludes-- delights from start to finish.
Though it begins in Cumberland, Rhode Island in 1985, Mary moves rapidly to 1998 in Miami Beach and the deco hotel where Ted takes a room with Woogie, an even more nervous would-be beau who breaks out miserably in hives each time he gets closer to his intended.
Meet Ted's inattentive shrink. Seated behind his woebegone patient, this shrink sneaks out to get a bite to eat. While he's gone, Ted tells of his deep feelings for Mary. As the shrink secretly returns, Ted mentions a rest stop on the highway, whereupon the shrink—out of the blue—says "Highway rest areas are the bath houses of the 90s for many gay men."
"What did you say?" asks Ted.
"We'll delve into that next week," the inattentive shrink assures him, bringing the hour to its close.
There is, in fact, an unexpected rest area raid in Mary. Twenty men with pants at half mast scatter under the glare of searchlights. Ted, after illegally picking up a hitchhiker, tells South Carolina's police: "I didn't solicit sex." The cops, like their fellow rubes in New York and Los Angeles, beat him up anyway.
In fact, seeing There's Something About Mary three times doesn't ruin it a bit, a sign that it is true cinematic art. Laugh each time at previously unseen angles, lap up the great dialogue, guffaw about situations that become increasingly absurd from one showing to the next.
Emerging from the big screened theatre, this reviewer immediately told everyone within earshot to haste on to see what is doubtlessly a comedic masterpiece . Listeners, who'd been similarly advised by other friends, promised to see it. I'm holding them to that promise, and I beg of all this review's readers—now that Mary's on video-- that they make such a promise too. There's Something About Mary, no doubt.