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There's Something About Mary

Video Review By Jack Nichols

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Mary (Cameron Diaz) and Ted (Ben Stiller) in 1985:
When guys fantasized about Cyndi Lauper.

mary1c.jpg - 5.82 K 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.

Yes, There's Something About Mary walks masterfully between a hard-edged, in-your-face 90s kind of slapstick and a sound romantic philosophy that points to a better place. Doing so, it licks the floor with every taboo and every PC notion on the map.

Bring on the mentally-challenged, the wheelchair-bound, the wobbly man on crutches, the insane asylum escapee. Take on all sensitive dog lovers, the Pope's loony ideas about masturbation, and a gorgeous woman whose reputation weaves between that of a childless saint and/or a producer of "four kids by three different guys, no rock."

Previous Entertainment Articles from the GayToday Archive:
Review: Shakespeare in Love

Review: Seven Years in Tibet

Review: Waiting for Gufman

Review: In & Out

Related Sites:
Something About Mary: Official Site

Cleaning the Pipes

mary1e.jpg - 5.16 K Crutch-bound Tucker Meet the cranky wheelchair rider whose vehicle boasts a bumper sticker: "How's My Driving? Call 1-800 Eat Shit!" Learn to care for Mary's mentally challenged brother, misled to think his baseball should be called a wiener, and who asks a lovely woman—in front of her boyfriend-- if she's seen his. Feel how crutches turned to comical use in this movie finds the audience forgetting their tragic dimension.

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.

At the same time, one of her pursuers, slimy sleuth Pat Heally, (Matt Dillon) turns the actor's bad-boy 80s hustler persona into a grown up 90s version of the same, replete with a skinny black mustache that makes him even more crooked and unsavory yet. Ben Stiller as Ted emits a plethora of insecurities known to those bland heterosexual men who, unfortunately, seldom get laid. And yet he offers up some of Hollywood's more canny observations about love: mary1b.jpg - 6.25 K Pat (Matt Dillon) gets the pearly whites for Mary

"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.

mary1g.jpg - 7.10 K Hived-up Woogie stillknows how to "flog the dolphin" It is Woogie who explains to Ted that he mustn't go on a date without first cleaning his pipes, or, more specifically, masturbating. Why? His reply is simple. Otherwise, he says, "it's like going out there with a loaded gun." If only he'll "choke the chicken," "spank the monkey," or "flog the dolphin," Woogie assures Ted that thereafter he won't have "baby batter on the brain," and will be better able to communicate in honesty, minus all sexual motives.

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.

If you're a dog lover, you'll want to meet Puffy, the scrawny but ferocious little mutt that belongs to Mary's kissy-kissy roomie, Magda, a gal who manages to shine a bright new light on loving relations between certain older women and their beasts . What happens to Puffy—as the great Latino song, Brazil plays throughout his debut—is, shall we say, memorable. mary1d.jpg - 6.53 K Magda's got a great rack

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.

mary1a.gif - 6.36 K 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.

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