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There's Something About Mary

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Dumb And Dumber was too annoying to be funny. Kingpin was funny when Bill Murray got his screen time, but the moment he was off, the quality laughs were hard to come by. In both movies, none of the characters were likable, and neither had much of a coherent story. What they did have was a gross-out sensibility that would make the Farrelly Brothers—who co-wrote both films and co-directed Kingpin with Peter handling Dumb And Dumber alone—millionaires by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Having honed that sensibility, the Farrellys have moved into the realm of endearing characters and a reasonably acceptable plot without sacrificing a single dick joke. There's Something About Mary opens with a high-school loser (Ben Stiller) being asked to the prom by dreamy Cameron Diaz after he comes to the aid of her retarded brother. He is unable to realize his dream date because of, in the first in a series of disgusting gags, an unfortunate zipper accident. When the detective (Matt Dillon) he hires to find her 13 years later also falls for her, hilarity ensues. The Farrellys deliver visual and spoken gags at a relentless pace; no subject is taboo in its quest to make the audience laugh and cringe at the same time. Just when you've recovered from one scene, another jumps off the screen, without any sense of condescension in the the jokes' delivery. There's Something About Mary feels as if the writers, directors, and actors are all enjoying themselves as much as the audience is, and the casting is nearly perfect. Stiller is immensely likable as a pleasant but unfortunate everyman who only wants to find love, and Dillon displays a comic panache only hinted at in Singles. Even the usually terrifying Diaz is the ideal straight woman, unfazed by the buffoonery that surrounds her existence. There's Something About Mary is one of the funniest movies of the year, but you may need to shower afterwards.