Me, Myself & Irene
directed by Bobby
& Peter Farrelly
(20th Century Fox, 2000)

Jim Carrey has a remarkable, comic physicality. Renee Zellweger adds an off-balance normalcy to even so-so material. And the Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, can balance gross-out comedy with a storyline.

So why does Me, Myself & Irene feel like a movie that's rushed headlong off track? It could be a showcase for all of them, but instead it takes an easier -- and much less funny -- tack. Instead of relying on some basics -- a plot, some directorial restraint -- Me, Myself & Irene goes solely for shock value, and uses the same jokes over and over. Funny the first time, but after that? Not really.

Carrey gets to put his talents to use in the service of two characters, the twin sides of a man with multiple personalities. On the straight and narrow, he's Officer Charlie Baileygates, a mild pushover of a cop who represses all his anger and replaces it with a forced, bouncy cheerfulness. But when his wife leaves him and "their" three sons -- all of whom are black -- to run off with the man who's obviously their father, Charlie's other personality comes cracking through the facade.

Meet Hank Evans. Obnoxious. Crude. No restraint. Perfect, at times, for the Farrellys and Carrey. What gets wearisome, though, is that Me, Myself & Irene depends solely on Hank's offensiveness for every joke. Hank/Charlie's love interest Irene (Zellweger) exists solely so Hank can abuse her, ridicule her, make her uncomfortable. The sons exist solely so we can watch everything with the realization that "They're black! He's white!" And the eventual sidekick for Hank/Charlie and Irene, Whitey (Michael Bowman) is there just so we can laugh at how pale he is.

There are some good Carrey moments that border on great. His attempted "mercy killing" of a cow is one, his interaction with his sons are some others. And some subtitling at key moments is inspired. But the emphasis on swearing to catch a shocked laugh wears thin -- and I'm not much offended by swearing in movies. But it's so prevalent here, it becomes commonplace and boring -- death to a movie that's supposed to be a comedy. And someone needed to rein in Carrey, who can be great (The Truman Show, or even Ace Ventura.) Here, it's just more frenetic activity that's veneer over a plot that's not much more than careening from one scene to another.

None of this will matter to diehard Farrelly fans. But, after There's Something About Mary, which married gross-out comedy with an actual storyline, I was hoping for more.

[ by Jen Kopf ]
Rambles: 3 November 2001

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