||Me, Myself and Irene
1999 - R - 118 Mins.
|Director: Peter and Bobby Farrelly|
|Written By: Peter and Bobby Farrelly|
|Starring: Jim Carrey, Renee Zellweger, Chris Cooper, Anna Kournikova, Lin Shaye |
|Review by: John Ulmer
"Me, Myself and Irene" is the Farrelly Brothers' painfully unfunny and inconsistent follow-up to their smash hit "There's Something About Mary." They seemed to be on a roll--"Dumb and Dumber" was a hoot, "Kingpin" was a blast, and "Mary" was outrageous. Now they've sunk to what they so marginally avoided in their previous films--downright crudeness and stupidity.
This isn't to say that their previous efforts were lacking crudeness. But what made the films funny were the characters and their good intentions (or bad intentions in the case of Pat Healy). "There's Something About Mary" is a strong R-rated film, no doubt, and the hair gel scene would turn off almost every viewer, I think, if not for the innocence of the characters and our attachment to them--by the time we come around the scene we already cared for them. The characters in "Me, Myself and Irene" are given little background, and when they do it comes off as a very superficial life.
It starts with an 18-year veteran of the Rhode Island police named Charlie (Jim Carrey). A narration opens and takes us back to the beginning of Charlie's younger years, when he was engaged to a pretty woman who promised to eat whale blubber for years just to be with him. (Don't ask.)
After their wedding, Charlie gets attacked by a vicious midget--who also happens to be black. The little man is overly-sensitive and very insecure, and so he goes after Charlie with his belt. Yeah, it's sort of funny, but not as funny as it could have been. Anyway, we find out the midget man is a member of MENSA. Charlie's new wife is the head of MENSA or something. Love at first sight.
Charlie's wife gives birth to three black children. Charlie realizes that they are black ("They have a tan all year long," says a neighbor) but, being the sensitive and insecure person he is, he simply ignores the fact and tucks it way back in his head. Eventually his wife leaves him for the midget. Charlie reminds her of the whale blubber. The midget cracks a joke about free willy and whale blubber. (Again, don't ask.)
Years later, Charlie's kids are older. They're foul-mouthed but incredibly smart. Me thinks making them talk very educated would have actually made it a great bit funnier than having their every other word be the almighty F-word, but I won't complain.
Charlie goes to work every day, only to be picked on by everyone--including little kids. He finally snaps under pressure and a new personality erupts--Hank. Hank defecates on the neighbor's lawn, sticks a little girl's head in a pool of water and almost drowns her, crashes a car through the front of a building, and so on and so forth.
Enter Renee Zellweger as Irene, a runaway golf course attendant being chased by criminals who thinks she knows too much about something. The cops are in on it and so Charlie and Irene run away. Only problem? Hank is about to appear again and wreak havoc.
The film resorts to low-brow humor, but it's just plain mean, and not all that funny. "Mary" was sweet and funny and crude and funny and mean and funny. "Me, Myself and Irene" is just plain mean and mean and crude and crude and a bit funny. I laughed a few times but they weren't big laughs. This is a very dark comedy that perhaps portrays the Farrelly Brothers' taste for darkness, but forgets to portray their humor. There's a scene with Charlie trying to kill a cow that's funny, but what's with the ongoing jokes about "Whitey" the albino? I don't really mind the political incorrectness--it's just not funny! They eventually use Whitey as a cheap plot device who becomes their friends, as if they felt sorry for making fun of him. Isn't one of the pinnacles of the Farrelly's humor political incorrectness with no reservations?
This movie resorts to something I thought I'd never see in a Farrelly Brothers movie--conventional plot devices. The plot behind the mess is just distracting from the rest of the movie. Everything from Whitey the albino to Dickie the gangster is all so typical. And the film's real problem is that it thinks Hank is funny. Every time it starts to lose steam it pulls out Charlie's alter ego and tries to use it as a last-ditch effort for laughs. Hank is not funny. Now, the possibilities of what Hank could DO are very funny--but the Farrellys only use him as a device for a few laughs, sex jokes, and physical fights between Charlie (both fighting through Carrey's body) that is funny but underplayed. I would have paid eight bucks just to see Carrey fighting himself because he is good at physical comedy--but the movie seems to drag on with the idea of split personality disorder without ever making good use of it.
I wondered how much funnier it would have been if the Carrey character, Charlie, had two alter egos who fought inside him. Then there would be almost constant changes. But Hank appears only when the film starts to run out of steam. And sadly, this film is always out of steam.
Note: The Farrellys have inserted various cameos in this film. Owen, a mentally retarded man who knew the Farrellys as boys (and yes, the inspiration for Owen in "Mary") can be seen in the background, as well as John J. Strauss, co-writer of "Mary," and Lin Shaye, who played Magda in "Mary," and Pat Healy, the name of Matt Dillon's character, is in the background; and finally, the ending where Charlie is looking for his thumb in the water is the original ending of "There's Something About Mary," with Ted (Ben Stiller) getting hit by a bus. The script called for Mary and passersby to start searching for vital parts of his anatomy (including one major part), but they had neither the time nor budget to do this. When "Irene" came around, they knew it was their chance. It didn't quite work as planned.