Some Notes on There's Something About Mary
"This movie rises below vulgarity."
-- Mel Brooks on THE PRODUCERS
Many were surprised at the Academy's nominations for the award of Best Picture this year. All were period pieces, most were intensely melodramatic and somewhat ignored by the rabble of American moviegoers. Uproar was heard over the fact that THE TRUMAN SHOW, which had more widespread appeal, did not even receive a nod for Best Actor, let alone Best Picture.
But ignored in this gala celebration was an amazing gem of a movie that feels unlike any that has become before or since: THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. The first people heard of this film was the trailers: "Warning: The guys who did DUMB AND DUMBER and KINGPIN bring you a love story." But even those who had seen and loved the Farrelly brothers' first two films could not be prepared for this one. It is as romantic as THE PRINCESS BRIDE, as screwy as BRINGING UP BABY, as disgusting as MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE. And if it catches you in the right mood, it is as funny as the three rolled into one.
Analysis fails when it comes to THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. How can characters be so endearing while so archetypal and little developed? How can a story be this strong when every thirty seconds there's a truly wacky plot twist or a fall-out-of-your-seat sight-gag? How can people this sweet continually bring about events this disgusting? And how on earth did this movie come about?
All reviewers could do was sing this films praises, recall difficulties they had had with franks and beans, and remember how stunningly cathartic laughter can be. Beneath all of the sick jokes and bizarre revelations, this movie has wisdom: love hurts, laughter heals. And that is the end of the story.