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Outside Providence
1999 - R - 106 Mins.
Director: Michael Corrente
Producer: Bobby Farrelly
Written By: Peter Farrelly and Michael Corrente
Starring: Shawn Hatosy, Alec Baldwin, Amy Smart, Tommy Bones, George Wendt
Review by: John Ulmer
Before their success with both "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary," the brothers Farrelly, Peter and Bobby, had writtena novel. Now, wait, that's not true. Peter had written a novel, despite the fact that the front cover for the film boasts "From the Guys Who Brought You...".

Then, after the success of "D & D" in 1994, and the continual success of "Kingpin" and "There's Something About Mary," Peter finally got the chance to turn his original work into a feature film - by co-scribing the screenplay and passing the director's chair off to Michael Corrente, probably anticipating the fact that the film was far from his brand of humor, and many devoted fans might start to doubt their crudity.

Unfortunately, though, the Farrelly Brothers are best at crude humor, and are the rare filmmakers that make the audience want -- or EXPECT -- crude humor. So trying to mix a coming-of-age story with an aimless preachy screenplay doesn't help.

"Outside Providence" is about a kid named Tim Dunphy. Tim is played by Shawn Hatosy as a whiny drug addict who is sent to an all boys prep school after one too many run-ins with the law. His father, Old Man Dunphy (Alec Baldwin), is a grim sterotypical Rough Father Figure, who likes to cause his two sons -- the younger a wheelchair-bound cripple -- lots of trouble. He affectionately (or not) nicknames Tim "Dildo," and enjoys humiliating his sons in many, many ways.

At his all boys school, Tim meets Jane (Amy Smart). Don't ask how there are girls at an all boys school, because the film never pauses to explain this. Anyway, Jane has her eyes set on the future -- she wants to get into a fancy college in Providence, Rhode Island, where Tim grew up.

Meanwhile, Tim parties throughout the school year and takes the occasional trip back home via hitchhiking. When it is time to head off to school again, Tim asks his father, "How 'bout a ride?" Old Man Dunphy just gives him a hitchhiker's thumb and poor Tim takes this as what it means.

Old Man Dunphy is played by Alec Baldwin as the same old type of gruff careless father who really does care, but is hiding behind an exterior of awkwardness. The movie has a touching moment between Old Man Dunphy and his son, when the two discuss Tim's dead mother while Tim's father teaches his son how to put on a tie. But the film's uneasy mix of crude humor (a three-legged dog) and sentimental rubbish (the ending) makes it hard to like.

I liked "Dumb and Dumber" because it was exactly what its title implied. In a way, it became a greater comedy simply because it was quite silly and funny and just altogether dumb. "Kingpin" was, I'll admit, quite hilarious the second time around. It was proof that the Farrellys had a gift at crude humor, and hadn't just struck gold with "Dumb and Dumber." Then came "There's Something About Mary," which is perhaps the Farrelly's most famous title, and I liked it enough to buy the newly-released DVD.

Those films all work because they are what they are. They don't try to be anything more. And while some moments in "Outside Providence" lightly touched me, the stupid throw-ins (drugs, off-color humor, pointless scenes, etc.) makes the film just another forgettable coming-of-age tale in my memory.
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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