Case Number 00089

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY

Fox // 1998 // 119 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) // August 9th, 1999

The Charge

Warning: The guys who did Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin bring you a love story.

Opening Statement

Fox finally releases their "special edition" of There's Something About Mary on DVD. While there still is something about Mary, there's nothing special about this DVD.

The Evidence

Over a year has passed since There's Something About Mary hit movie screens last summer and became the surprise hit of the season. Personally, I wasn't too surprised. Dumb & Dumber proved that the Farrelly brothers' films had an audience and, despite the limited success of Kingpin, it would be only a matter of time before the brothers unleashed their next comedy hit on the nation.

There's Something About Mary starts out in good old 1980s Rhode Island. Teenage Ted Stroehman (Ben Stiller) is a high school loser but when he comes to the aid of a mentally handicapped kid, Warren (W. Earl Brown), the prettiest girl in high school takes notice of him. Mary Jensen (Cameron Diaz), who just happens to be Warren's sister, thanks Ted for standing up for her brother and asks him to be her date to the senior prom; after having dumped her former boyfriend Woogie. Unfortunately, when Ted shows up to pick up Mary for the prom, things start to go awry. After a few mishaps with Mary's parents and Warren, Ted accidentally gets his "frank and beans" caught in the zipper of his pants. The incident causes Ted to be rushed off to the hospital and away from Mary forever, who shortly moves away from Rhode Island.

Years later, Ted finds himself still thinking about Mary and, upon the advice of his friend Dom (Chris Elliot), decides to hire a private investigator, Pat Healy (Matt Dillon), to locate Mary for him. Once Healy tracks down Mary he too becomes obsessed with the beautiful woman and decides to forget about helping Ted by resolving to try his hand at falling in love with Mary himself. Soon things begin to erupt as Ted travels to Miami to see Mary and must compete with numerous other suitors all out to win Mary's heart; determined to do this by all means necessary.

There's no doubt about it, There's Something About Mary is one of the funniest comedies in years, with both quick wit and extremely hilarious physical gags. For a comedy, this film runs a bit long at two hours. However, the film is humorous enough to keep the audience entertained and engaged well past the point audiences would get fed up with other comedies. Even the ending of There's Something About Mary proves to be surprising as well as warm and heartfelt.

The long awaited release of There's Something About Mary on DVD has finally arrived. As far as the transfer of the film to disc, most fans of the movie will not be disappointed. While not anamorphic, the 1.85:1 widescreen image on this disc is almost flawless. Spread over two layers, the video transfer has no visible artifacts or picture noise. Flesh tones are re-created warm and realistically. There is a slight qualm I have about the transfer, but I will go into that later. Although the film hardly demands it, There's Something About Mary's audio track is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital. There are very little (if any) surround effects used in the film but the 5.1 track helps to bring to life the great sounding (and amusing) soundtrack for the movie. From what I heard, the audio track on this disc is almost exactly true to the audio the movie had in theaters.

As a "special edition" you'd expect Fox to release a wealth of extras comparable to the Alien films, right? Well, you might be disappointed. While more than the regular Fox release, this disc does not contain as much extra content as one would expect to find in a special edition. For you money you do receive a short outtakes featurette (which is not that funny), a commentary track from the Farrelly brothers, a music video for the Foundations' song "Build Me Up Buttercup," a Karaoke music video for the Foundations' song "Build Me Up Buttercup," a theatrical trailer, and cast and crew information screens.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Lets return to the video transfer, which is a great effort from Fox. However the image appears a bit too bright in certain instances, especially during the "hair gel" scene. Cameron Diaz's face almost seems to blend into the orange wall background during the scene.

The extra content department is where I have the most problems with this disc. The outtakes were short and not funny at all. Seeing how the outtakes are listed on the front of the box for this disc, you'd expect more than two or three minutes of outtakes, since they are a major part of making this disc a "special edition" in the eyes of Fox. The music video is the same one you see at the end of the film (with some added scenes) only this time presented in 2 channel surround (which really doesn't sound as good as the 5.1 version on the film) and in a full frame, poor quality, video transfer. But wait, if you didn't like the music video the first two times you saw it, you can see it again with the words printed on the screen and a bouncing Puffy the dog to show you how to sing. Yes, recycled material is used by Fox again to create the Karaoke music video.

Finally, there is the Farrelly Brothers commentary. As they do shed a little light on the film, most of their time is spent stating which actors played whom in the film, and how the Farrelly brothers know them in real life. So if you're in the mood to know exactly how all of the extras in this film are related to the Farrelly brothers, you'll find the commentary provides an entertaining two hours. This really isn't the fault of Fox though, because they used what they are given by the two filmmakers.

What really bugs me about this disc, however, is the fact that the Farrelly Brothers mention in their commentary that the film originally ran upwards of three and a half hours, before being edited and cut down. I'm sure the extra hour and a half of footage would not have been entirely entertaining, however, if Fox spent the time and picked out even 1/3, or 1/4, of those deleted scenes and placed on them on this disc it would definitely justify the disc as a special edition.

For an MSRP of $35, There's Something About Mary "special edition" isn't all that special. $35 is the normal MSRP for Fox on DVD releases of more current films (such as The Siege) and at least this time around they included some extra content for the higher price consumers must pay. Nevertheless, consumers still can get more content and anamorphic transfers from other studios for $10-15 less than the price of this disc.

Just a quick final note about There's Something About Mary and DIVX. When this film was released on DIVX, and not DVD, earlier this year, there was a huge uproar. However, There's Something About Mary could only be watched in DIVX's 48 hour time periods and could not be upgraded to unlimited play. This was merely Fox's effort to release the film in a DVD rental market; unfortunately, they chose DIVX instead of offering the disc at higher prices to rental stores. Since Fox released the DVD day and date with the VHS release (sell through) I find their DIVX effort forgivable.

Closing Statement

There's Something About Mary has a huge following of fans that won't hesitate to shell out $30 to Fox for a pseudo-special edition DVD. The transfer is good enough to hold up on widescreen TVs, despite not being anamorphic, and the film is funny enough to own for repeat viewings.

The Verdict

Film acquitted, Fox sentenced to five years of community service for their fraudulent attempts to pass a standard disc off as a special edition.

Review content copyright © 1999 Sean Fitzgibbons; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 94
Extras: 65
Acting: 90
Story: 89
Average: 86

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)

Subtitles:
* Spanish

Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Original Theatrical Trailer
* Outtakes
* Audio Commentary with the Farrelly Brothers
* Music Video
* Karaoke Music Video

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0129387/combined