'Mary' comes to Dartmouth tonight for DFS special

by Hank Leukart | 10/30/98 6:00am

"There's Something About Mary" crosses the line -- repeatedly -- but that's what makes the movie so appealing. Bobby and Peter Farrelly ("Dumb and Dumber," "Kingpin") are well known for their tasteless and surprising antics, and "Mary" does not change their reputation; in fact, the movie enhances it.

"Mary" begins typically enough. Ted (Ben Stiller from "Reality Bites") becomes infatuated with Mary (beautiful Cameron Diaz from "My Best Friend's Wedding") when surprisingly, she asks him to their high school prom.

Suddenly, the movie takes a bizarre turn when a scarring accident occurs (involving surprisingly convincing plastic makeup art), destroying the night and causing Ted to miss his one chance to impress the girl of his dreams. After this point, the movie is never typical again.

Thirteen years after Ted misses his big chance, he tries to obtain what he thinks he could have had. Hiring insurance claims investigator Pat (Matt Dillon of "Wild Things"), Ted tries to find his lost love. Of course, Pat falls in love with Mary too. And then someone else does, and then another person does, and suddenly, every male character in the film is in love with -- you guessed it -- Mary.

After the outrageous initial ten minutes, the remainder of the movie is a roller coaster ride of similar proportions. First the Farrellys mock retarded and handicapped people. Then, the brothers move on to homosexuals, serial killers and sadistic police officers.

In the middle, they touch on masturbation, stalking, psychedelic drugs and animal cruelty. Finally, they finish up with horrible skin diseases.

If you don't think you can handle all of that in one sitting, avoid this movie, because you will probably hate it.

The fact that most of the jokes actually work in this film can be attributed to Stiller and Dillon's timing, in addition to the film's creative editing.

Diaz also does a good job playing the "straight man." She never seems to think any of the insane situations in the movie are actually that insane, making things even a little more outlandish than they already are.

Even more important though, is the shock factor. Every time a joke hits the screen and the audience doubts its eyes, the Farrellys follow it up with something even worse and more bizarre. Viewers cannot help but laugh. And if the toilet-humor does not win you over, Jonathan Richmond's random guitar narration certainly will.

Needless to say, this movie is one of the most tasteless I have seen in years. There is nothing smart about this movie; viewers will definitely leave the theater with fewer IQ points, but most will also have smiles on their faces.

"There's Something About Mary" in addition to "Lupo the Butcher," "He May Be Dead but He's Elvis" and "The Crippled Masters" (three "highly offensive shorts") will be shown at 9:00 p.m. tonight in Spaulding Auditorium.