Mary Jensen/Matthews (Cameron Diaz) is the object of many men’s desire, including sweet-natured Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller), who’s been in love with her since an ill-fated prom date in high school. Despite the (massively funny) fallout, Ted still finds himself unable to shake his feelings for Mary and decides to track her down thirteen years later.
Filthy, gross-out humor and… romance? Yep. The Farrelly Brothers (Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin, Hall Pass, etc.) somehow deftly blended the two and, in the process, created an endearing classic. It tops my personal pick as one of my favorite comedies of all time, and the American Film Institute agrees. The flick lands at number 27 on their 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America’s Funniest Movies list. Not too shabby for a sleeper hit.
A lot of the credit goes to the perfectly cast roles. Cameron Diaz radiates natural beauty and charm as the title character and Ben Stiller is at his peak as Ted, the “every guy” archetype one can’t help but root for. Matt Dillon is hilarious as Pat Healy, the sleazy private detective Ted hires to help him find Mary. Treasured actress Lin Shaye just about steals the film as Mary’s quirky lush of a neighbor, Magda.
Magda would be a pretty awesome neighbor – instead of a cup of sugar, you could borrow a cup of vodka!
The casting props don’t stop there. Even the smallest roles are memorable, including Mary’s parents (a smokin’ hot Markie Post as Shelia Jensen and a hilariously gruff Keith David as Charlie, Mary’s stepfather. You may recognize Keith from the cult classic, They Live. If not, familiarize yourself posthaste!). It’ll take you days to shake Harland Williams cameo as an off-the-rails hitchhiker and the always-welcome Richard Jenkins warms up the screen as Ted’s wildly inappropriate therapist. I could go on and on – literally every actor in this movie warrants a mention.
Truly a cast of characters!
Adding another unique layer to the experience is the duo of singer/songwriter Jonathan Richman and drummer Tommy Larkins, serving as the Greek chorus for the film. Each of Jonathan’s songs is tailored to the plot, dropping clues regarding the narrative without giving away any surprises. Fun fact: Tommy Larkins and I briefly lived in Tucson, Arizona at the same time. I had the pleasure of not only befriending him, but getting to buy one of his famous cocktail drum kits as well. Before we arranged the sale I asked him, “Can I buy the pink one from the film?” And he replied, “Are you fricking kidding me? You’ll buy the gray one and you’ll like it.” Note to Tommy: I do like it, very much! It was the one time in my life that being broke was a bonus. Tommy, ever the gentleman, let me pay him in installments. That meant we got to hang out numerous times, as we’d meet for beers and a cash exchange. Those are some special memories; and I still have that kickass drum kit to boot.
I totally have that drum kit in gray! Not that I know how to play it, but that’s another story…
One thing that makes this movie so great is the genuinely amazing plot-twists. The writers did an outstanding job of creating some legitimately surprising turns and, for once, they are devices the audience can’t see coming from a mile away; an all too rare experience in today’s spoon-fed cinema.
This surprisingly delightful comedy classic is worth revisiting, again and again. Even the gross-out gags stand the test of time. “Hair gel” anyone?
No post regarding There’s Something About Mary is complete without this image.
Take a Drink: every time Ted laments the loss of Mary.
Take a Drink: every time Ted’s pal Dom (Chris Elliott) grows another eye stye.
Take a Drink: every time Pat Healy uses clunky technology to spy on Mary.
Take a Drink: every time Jonathan and Tommy perform an ode to the plot.
Take Shots for these classic scenes: Frank & beans, 7-minute abs, “Is that hair gel?”, “The dog is just like Benji,” and the famous football player’s cameo at the end.