Friday June 23, 2000
The Farrelly brothers have been dumb and they've been dumber, and "Me, Myself & Irene" definitely falls into the second category. Even if you laughed despite yourself at the unspeakable shenanigans in "There's Something About Mary," this is one to leave for the hard-core gross-out crowd. The tasteless jokes come in as thick and fast as German ordnance in "Saving Private Ryan," and dealing with so much relentless transgression has become exhausting more than entertaining.
This despite the presence of the remarkable Jim Carrey, starring as a Rhode Island state policeman with a split personality, both of whom, the cheerful Charlie as well as the churlish Hank, are heedlessly in love with the sylph-like Irene Walters (Renee Zellweger).
As wild a comic actor as Carrey is, he's almost underutilized with but two personalities to play. The sequence when he uses little more than facial contortions to transform good guy Charlie into a Hank who acts and sounds like Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry is a remarkable one.
But for all his gifts, noticeable warmth has never been one of Carrey's strengths, and that's the area where the shadow of "Something About Mary" falls heaviest. While the presence of Cameron Diaz in particular and Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon to a lesser extent softened the outrageous humor of co-directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly and made it surprisingly palatable, no one manages to perform that function here.
Without this leavening humanity, the Farrellys' trademark foul humor (the script is by the brothers and boyhood friend Mike Cerrone) feels haphazard and strained. Too many people are trying too darn hard to make light and frothy humor out of material (anal sex with realistic dildos, to pick a random example) that was taboo once upon a time.
Jokes also tend to repeat themselves from earlier films (the dog who won't die in "Mary" becomes a resilient cow in "Irene") and what was once a surprise is now predictable: Bring an angelic tyke into the frame and you know she's going to end up cursing like, well, a trooper.
The first part of "Irene" is an extended flashback to 18 years in the past, showing why and how Charlie Baileygates (the name has a Frank Capra echo) squandered the potential to be one of the best state troopers in Rhode Island history. It all had to do with a woman.
Charlie was in love with the attractive Layla (Traylor Howard) but a chance wedding day encounter with Tony Cox's brainy dwarf black limousine driver (this is the Farrellys, after all) ends up ruining his marriage. Ever the good sport, Charlie becomes a kind and loving stepfather to the triplets the limo driver fathered who grow up to be huge, trash-talking geniuses.
That plot strand is typical of how the Farrellys' mix-and-match taboo-breaking humor does and doesn't work. It is initially unexpected and amusing to see and hear these three guys (played by Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee and Jerod Mixon), but that surprise value disappears well before they do, leaving us with repetitive and finally cliched characters whose addiction to nonstop profanity does not wear particularly well.
Given that his small Rhode Island town misses no opportunity to laugh at him behind his back, it's not a surprise when Charlie finally snaps and time-shares his body with the hostile, aggressive Hank, the man who does all the things Charlie has been repressing for years.
Irene, a winsome expert in turf management, enters the picture when the Rhode Island troopers have to escort her back to Rochester, N.Y., where, it turns out, her ex-boyfriend is involved in a criminal scheme too complex to ever be fully understood.
Charlie gets the assignment, but he forgets his schizophrenia medication and eventually both he and Hank are courting Irene in their zealous and very distinctive styles. While Zellweger's performance is pedestrian--she's more or less just along for the ride--Carrey's gift for chaotic physical humor does manage to create the occasional amusing moment. Natives of Rhode Island, the Farrellys are enviably loyal to their home state, not only filming there but also calling their state police "the best darn law enforcement agency in the country" and using old pals in small roles. They even devote the closing credits to visually identifying bit actors who got cut out of the final film. It's a funny and amusing notion, but like a lot of "Me, Myself & Irene," it goes on for too long.
Me, Myself & Irene, 2000. R, for sexual content, crude humor, strong language and some violence. A Conundrum Entertainment production, released by 20th Century Fox. Directors Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly. Producers Bradley Thomas & Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly. Executive producers Charles B. Wessler, Tom Schulman. Screenplay Peter Farrelly & Mike Cerrone & Bobby Farrelly. Cinematographer Mark Irwin. Editor Christopher Greenbury. Costumes Pamela Withers. Music Pete Yorn & Lee Scott. Production design Sidney J. Bartholomew Jr. Art director Arlan Jay Vetter. Set decorator Scott Jacobson. Running time: 1 hour, 47 minutes. Jim Carrey as Charlie/Hank. Renee Zellweger as Irene. Chris Cooper as Lt. Gerke. Robert Forster as Col. Partington. Richard Jenkins as Agent Boshane.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times