Urban Cinefile
"I think that great cinema is national cinema...that reflects its originating country. And I want to make cinema about Australia."  -Geoff Burton, cinematographer
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 18, 2019 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



At 17, a brace-toothed Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) meets the delectable Mary Jenson (Cameron Diaz) who, to his eternal surprise, asks him to their senior prom dance in Rhode Island. A painful, embarrassing and socially fatal last minute hitch, involving his zipper, kills the plans for the dance. Then school is over and Maryís family move away to Florida, and Ted never sees her again. But, there's something about Mary that has continued to haunt Ted, and a decade later he is persuaded by his friend Dom (Chris Elliott) to hire private eye Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to track her down in Miami. Healy finds Mary in Miami, and falls in lust with her, so much so that he lies to his client in his efforts to keep her for himself: he informs Ted that she has become a mail-order bride, an overweight, wheelchair-bound mother of four kids out-of-wedlock living in a housing estate. Ted is thunderstruck, until he finds Healy out. Another complication arises when Mary discovers that Ted hired Healy.

"Deliciously wicked, hilariously entertaining and outrageously funny, Thereís Something About Mary is a real charmer. The plot is unexpected and imaginatively off-the-wall with sharply stereotyped characters who are wonderfully endearing. Itís naughty, politically incorrect, racist, discriminating, in bad tasteÖ and totally compelling. Cameron Diaz is delectable as Mary: she counteracts the very sweetness and goodness that the film depicts against. Diaz really shows off her comedic flair and talents in a show role that is the making of her. Matt Dillon is wonderfully debauched, and Ben Stiller shows that heís made of the right stuff. Mary is pretty close to perfect, but Ted aside, just about every character either has an affliction, a disability or belongs to a minority group. And just when you begin to be offended, the film sucks you in and charms you all over again. This is the film you see at the end of a bad, bad day, when you need a good dose of laughter to feel terrific."
Louise Keller

"There's Something About Mary is a real hoot of a film. The Farrelly brothers have delivered a film that is tastelessly entertaining in spots, which gets away with being deliciously politically incorrect. The directors bounce the film along with consistent energy, switching styles with aplomb. Whether it's being utterly disgusting or sweet natured, Mary. . . is a delight, a hilarious commentary on the obsessiveness of love. There are many moments that will have you howling with laughter, then cringe with embarrassment. But unlike the Farrellysí previous efforts, this one is directed with greater intelligence and has a comically cohesive narrative. There's also a basic sweetness about the film that is in sharp contrast to its less subtle moments. In fact, one can describe Mary . . . as being charmingly grotesque. The film's three principals clearly had fun. Diaz remains a revelation: seductive, luminous, human and delightfully comedic. Stiller does some of his best work on screen in ages, while Dillon is brilliantly heinous here. It occasionally crosses the line of good taste, yet it never seems to matter, because it's easy to poke fun at society's conservatism. This is an unexpected gem of a film, and the feel-good movie of the year."
Paul Fischer

"Out and out fun, out and out outrageous, Mary . . . is all that Paul and Louise have said. How does it get away with some of its riskier scenes is to do with its tone. From the start, it engages the audience with a sense of self parody, (sparingly) using a Florida version of a Greek chorus to strum musical commentary on the action. Itís not unlike the device Chris Noonan used in Babe with the musical mice, if you recall. But there is much more to the film than that: the sparklingly lighthanded performances, balanced between naturalism and surrealism in some newly found territory created by the Farrellys, finds its mark in delivering what must have been a well-worn script. With its offensiveness always undercut by the creative brio of the filmmakers, Mary . . . promises to provoke palpitations in those easily offended (and even those not so easily offended), for one reason or another. But in the end, itís another good old love story."
Andrew L. Urban

"Guys getting hit in the balls may be a standard feature of any 'family' comedy nowadays, but There's Something About Mary is still pushing the boundaries of what's possible in a mainstream movie - especially with its incredibly blunt (literally 'in your face') variations on the basic castration joke. Any time our hapless hero unzips his pants, pain and disaster are the sure result. Is this funny? Absolutely, if you can control your impulse to vomit and/or run screaming from the theatre. In between the big scenes, anything goes. Lee Evans does some typically weird contortions on crutches, a sun-baked hag (Lin Shaye) French-kisses her dog, there are cheery jokes about retards and serial killers, and character consistency is breezily sacrificed to the demands of the rickety plot. The focus, though, is squarely on male sexual insecurity. Cameron Diaz doesn't have to do anything except act cute and look gorgeous (pretty much her screen career to date) while the men around her collapse into states of psychotic delusion, grotesque physical injury, and nightmarish embarrassment. There are traces here of implicit self-analysis: all the guys here are pathetic geeks, arrested adolescents fixated on a woman flagged as a total male fantasy (apart from being adorable, she's sexually direct, a sports fan, and loves meat). Possibly this well-scripted, spectacularly lowbrow comedy is too good-natured and fragmentary to push its queasy hysteria to the limit, but for most tastes I suspect it does more than enough. Recommended."
Jake Wilson

Email this article

Favourable: 4
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0



CAST: Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, Chris Elliott, Lee Evans, Brett Favre, Lin Shaye, Jeffrey Tambor,

DIRECTOR: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

PRODUCERS: Frank Beddor, Michael Steinberg, Bradley Thomas, Charles B. Wessler

SCRIPT: Ed Dector, John J. Strauss, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly


EDITOR: Christopher Greenbury

VISUAL CONSULTANT: Sidney J. Bartholomew, Jr.

RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 17, 1998



© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2019