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Case Number 03245

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There's Something More About Mary

Fox // 1998 // 119 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Jonathan Nelson (Retired) // September 1st, 2003

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of There's Something About Mary (published August 9th, 1999) and There's Something About Mary (Blu-Ray) (published June 4th, 2009) are also available.

The Charge

This is a story about Mary, love, hair gel, love, frank and beans, Mary, stalkers, private dicks, love, Mary, and me.

Opening Statement

For my opening statement, I would like the following put into the record. Four years ago, on August 9, 1999, my fellow judge and colleague Judge Sean Fitzgibbons (Retired) issued the following 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."

At the request of the defendant's attorney and in light of recent developments, this case has been reopened for re-examination.

Facts of the Case

Husband…negative. Children and a Labrador…negative. Tight little package…affirmative.—Pat Healy

Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy stalks girl. It's the classic American tale, told by adolescent misfits who never felt the slightest bit of embarrassment when they were caught with their hands in the cookie jar of bad taste. And even regardless of how unpolitically-correct and unapologetic this far-out love story is, you can't help but laugh as they blindly get away with the offensive humor.

Back in high school, Ted (Ben Stiller, Zoolander, Meet the Parents) was a goofy kid with braces who was as socially awkward around girls as a bull is in a china shop. But when he helps out a developmentally challenged kid from being picked on, said kid's attractive sister Mary (Cameron Diaz, The Mask, Charlie's Angels) takes notice of Ted and suddenly Ted has a date for the prom. But as dates go, it is the worst one humanly possible that ends in utter disaster. Oh, and Ted has a bad time too.

Fifteen years later, Mary has since long moved on and out of state, and Ted is caught reminiscing of "the one that got away." In an effort to find his lost flame, he takes the advice of his friend Dom (Chris Elliot, Cabin Boy) and hires private investigator Pat Healy (Matt Dillon, One Night at McCool's) to track down the long-lost Mary.

But when Healy finds Mary, he falls for her too, and decides that he'll try his hand at winning Mary's heart. Before long, Ted tracks Mary down, and has to compete with a laundry list of suitors, all trying to woo Mary's affections, in which all is fair in love and war.

The Evidence

I couldn't believe that she knew my name. Some of my best friends didn't know my name.

Dumb and Dumber was funny in a way no one seriously expected it to be. Some of the gags—you know what I'm talking about—even pushed my boundaries of good taste. There's Something About Mary shattered them all. As a result, I now have no shame. But if you laughed too (and I know you did so don't try to deny it!), then we're all in the same boat together. So let's break out a paddle, and go upstream with Mary again.

The first DVD release by Fox back in 1999 was a step in the right direction, but fell far too short overall. At the hefty price tag of $35, which even today is quite high, Fox was asking a lot for what today would be considered a fairly bare bones release.

But thanks to the never-ending drive to make more money, Fox has reissued the surprise comedy hit about non-traditional hair gel in a much more deserving two-disc edition. Loaded with extras, this foray should be enough to quench all your Mary needs.

The sound and video quality remain the same from the first release. Nothing over the top in the aural department, but good consistent levels and mixes all around. There was one sound effect that didn't sound quite right to me, but it's such a little thing I could ignore it. (If I say anything more on that subject, I'm afraid this review may not be suitable for all ages.)

The video presentation looks the same from the original release, which was good to begin with. The same flaws are present, such as some over-saturation in the reds, particularly noticeable when the characters stand in front of bright walls, but overall crisp video all around. If anything, the rich colors enhance the atmosphere, reinforcing the happy, over-the-top comic aspects, rather than dwelling on more serious and downcast greens and blues.

But naturally, where this release really tries to shine is in the extra content. In the battle over Quantity vs. Quality, Quantity won out here. To begin with, there are two versions of the movie available to watch: the original theatrical release, and the new extended version with 15 minutes of additional and extended scenes. The extended version just makes this film unnecessarily longer, for at already two hours, it is pushing the bounds of patience. The added content doesn't add any new great insights into the characters, but does weaken some other scenes by dragging them out longer than their expiration date for funniness. The short of it: stay with the original theatrical version.

Next up on the movie disc is two feature length commentaries, the first with the Farrelly brothers, the second with the co-writers of the original script, Ed Decter and John J. Strauss. The Farrelly brothers' track is exactly the same from the original release, where they talk about how they know everybody on the frame, and how much they love Cameron Diaz. But in what has to be a DVD first, there is also bonus commentary when the icon of two lovebirds pop-up, giving commentary on the commentary.

Also available to watch is an alternate opening title sequence that was created using claymation, in place of the musical number up in the tree. This was a good call, as the claymation is interesting to see, but it is totally out of line with the rest of the movie.

The second disc is where most of the goodies are, but unfortunately, most of them aren't very tasty.

Getting Behind Mary—Good "fly on the wall" material here. A free-floating cameraman follows the scenes uninterrupted through the takes, watching the Farrelly brothers and actors in action. It's an intimate look at the filmmaking that is lacking from the interviews with the cast later on.

Backstory: There's Something About Mary—AMC produced a well documented making of featurette. Most of the serious aspects of filmmaking are discussed in this 20-minute extra, which is a good thing, seeing where most of the rest of the extra features are headed. (Interesting fact: Owen Wilson was originally considered for the role of Ted, which instead went to Stiller. A prelude for Zoolander? Discuss.)

Comedy Central: Reel Comedy—The 20-minute self-promotional piece that aired before the movie was released. Nothing but fluff here, move along.

Best Fight: Ben Stiller and Puffy the Dog—During the 1999 MTV Movie and Music awards, Ben Stiller won the award for best fight sequence. In this parody making-of feature, Stiller shows us the inner workings of the Industrial Light and Magic effects department of how this scene was created. It is a fairly funny bit, filled mostly with Stiller writhing around on the ground in front of a blue screen, and the spaced-out computer animators adding in the part of the dog. Next up, making an all-digital performance of Stiller in the movie, a much less expensive enterprise.

Marketing Mary—TV spots, trailers, and poster gallery. Standard stuff, nicely arranged. Hidden within this section is a small Easter egg of actual news clips from when the movie came out. As quick montages go, this could have been done a lot better, and feels like a cheap afterthought.

Exposing Themselves—Cast Interview with Stiller, Diaz, Dillon, and Elliot—Not much new information here, but lots of patting each other on the back. Some funny anecdotes about set antics and cheap shots taken at their fellow actors' expense.

Up a Tree with Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins—A brief overview of the musical history of Jonathan Richman, who I myself knew nothing about, but some of his friends claim he is the most "criminally underrated" rock musician. After this short tribute, there are a bunch of inane questions, South Park style, about their favorite ice cream flavor and if they could live for two weeks in any time period, where would they go. Intercut between the stupid questions are their thoughts about filming Mary, but by this point I had already stopped caring.

Frank and Beans: A Conversation with W. Earl Brown—So far, this is the only interview that is worth watching. Brown, who completely nailed the role of Mary's retarded brother Warren, explains where the character came from and his approach to the role. He gives very intelligent insight and respect to a subject that could very easily have been made a mockery of, but he preserves the dignity few others in the cast have shown to their experience in the film.

Touchdown: A Conversation with Brett Favre—Another short piece but this time with a MVP. For a man that has 1000+ pounds of human flesh gunning for him every Sunday in autumn, all it takes is one little film camera or an unassuming movie theater to get him quivering in his boots. This is the second worthwhile interview in the bunch.

Interview Roulette with Harland Williams—Another waste of time here. Mindless ramblings that never go anywhere in an incoherent mess of an interview. Stay away!

Puffy, Boobs and Balls—Make-up and costuming of the film. The making of Magda, the many different Puffy the dog,and the infamous semen on the ear. All these glorious props are explored in excruciating detail that is quite entertaining to watch. The two interviewees, designer Tony Gardner and actress Lin Shaye who played Magda, definitely have the most genuine fun during the interview, without trying to outshine each other like in the other interviews with Stiller, Diaz, Dillon, and Elliot, which makes this segment refreshing to watch after the mindless numbing sensation that was the Harland Williams spot.

Behind the Zipper—Every man's worst nightmare, whether they admit it or not, is explored with Magda's investigative reporting. The causes, the effects, the repercussions, and the healing, are all explored in a short five-minute segment. Absurd joke taken farther than necessary.

Around the World with Mary—For those with a penchant for languages, here is your opportunity to practice them on the final scene of the movie. Or you can just remember what they said in English and try to figure the rest out for yourself. Languages covered are: German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Thai, Turkish, and French. About as much fun as replacing old batteries, but if you're into that sort of thing…

Build Me Up Buttercup Karaoke—The same shenanigans at the end of the movie, but this time with a bouncing Puffy the Dog to guide you along. Whee.

Every Day Should be a Holiday, the Dandy Warhols Music Video—Claymation goodness, like the alternate opening credits. Passable.

Outtakes—Out of the 3:30 minutes of "outtakes" I laughed once, and chuckled once. They were just trying to hard, an easy trap to fall into. For funny outtakes, watch any Pixar or Jackie Chan movie, now those are funny outtakes! Oh, imagine what a Pixar movie with Jackie Chan would be like? We need one of those posthaste!

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Boy, don't make me open up a can of whoop-ass!

Obviously, this movie isn't for everyone. If you are even slightly offended by anything that is not pre-sanitized for your protection, stay away from this film!

Closing Statement

A much better release than from the first go-round, but a lot of the extra content plays like filler on a CD you only really want one song off of. Overall though, not a bad buy if you are a fan, and the extra content is more good than bad. A good night's rent for a gathering of friends, as well as a surprising resource for non-traditional uses for common household objects.

The Verdict

Fox is sentenced to time served and the previous transgression shall be wiped from the record. Remaining year of community service suspended in light of recent release, but let me remind Fox that the court may not be so lenient next time. Case dismissed.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 94
Extras: 90
Acting: 92
Story: 92
Judgment: 91

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Blockbusters
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Directors' Commentary by the Farrelly Brothers
• Writers' Commentary by Ed Decter and John J. Strauss
• Alternate Opening (Clay-Animated Title Sequence)
• 43-Minute Behind-the-Scenes Diary: "Getting Behind Mary"
• "Exposing Themselves" Cast Interviews: Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, and Chris Elliott
• AMC Backstory: There's Something About Mary
• "Best Fight" MTV Movie Award Footage (Ben Stiller and Puffy the Dog)
• Comedy Central's Reel Comedy: There's Something About Mary
• "Behind the Zipper"
• "Puffy, Boobs & Balls"
• "Around the World with Mary" Foreign Language Clips
• "Marketing Mary" Gallery: Posters, Trailer, and 13 TV Spots
• "Every Day Should be a Holiday" Music Video
• "Buttercup" Karaoke Video
• "Up a Tree" with Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins
• "Frank & Beans": A Conversation with W. Earl Brown
• "Touchdown" A Conversation with Brett Farve
• "Interview Roulette" with Harland Williams
• Outtakes








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