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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: There's Something About Mary



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#1 of 2 Matt Hough

Matt Hough

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Posted May 16 2009 - 03:18 PM



There’s Something About Mary (Blu-ray)
Directed by Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly

Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Year: 1998
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 119/130 minutes
Rating: R/NR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; DTS 5.1 French, Spanish, Portuguese, others
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Korean, others
Region: A
MSRP: $ 34.98

Release Date: May 12, 2009
Review Date: May 16, 2009


The Film

3.5/5

Giddily filled with politically incorrect humor and farcical bad taste, Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s There’s Something About Mary is one raucous romantic comedy. Those two adjectives used to describe a comedy might seem to be strange bedfellows, but somehow the Farrelly brothers make it work. Consistency isn’t the watchword for the comic elements of the film. There are peaks and valleys here to be sure, but what’s funny is really funny, and the rest is innocuous, and even in the slower scenes, we can manage the banality knowing something outrageous is just a few minutes away.

Smitten by the lovely, good-hearted Mary Jenson (Cameron Diaz) in high school, classic underdog Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) thirteen years later decides to hire private investigator Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to track her down to see if there might be a chance for happiness for him with her. During his investigation, however, Pat falls for Mary, too, which begins a series of crosses and doublecrosses to see who can win the heart of the fair lady.

The Farrelly Brothers’ finished script began with an original story and screenplay by Ed Decter and John J. Strauss. The Farrellys have extended the story with additional characters (Mary’s mentally handicapped brother Warren for one) and a half dozen scenes of comic mayhem with the hapless Ben Stiller as the usual recipient of the torturous comic zingers. He figures in most of the funniest moments including a down and dirty fight to the finish with border terrier Puffy which is by far the film’s most excruciatingly hilarious sequence. Matt Dillon has his own comic encounter with the pooch, but wisely the funnier of the two has been placed later in the film. In general, the visual comedy in the movie works far better than the verbal jousting with quite a few lines falling flat. Almost none of the visual bits fail to land, and land big. Some motifs, however, don’t work. Traveling minstrel Jonathan Richman (with backup drummer Tommy Larkins) is used throughout the film but wears out his welcome before the film is even halfway through (though he gets his just desserts in the end). Jeffrey Tambor’s coke-addicted Sully is also an idea that probably worked better on the page than on the stage (though, again, there is a good comic payoff with the character).

Cameron Diaz won the New York Film Critics’ Best Actress award for her work in this film, and while she’s wonderfully fresh, adorable, and vivacious, the award for this performance seems a bit of a stretch (especially since the character is a doctor but isn‘t worldly enough to see through the pathetic lies of Matt Dillon‘s character). Ben Stiller has made a career of playing this kind of put-upon, well meaning schlub, and he’s the heart of the film struggling so mightily to impress the fetching Mary. Matt Dillon gets to be a snake oil salesman who’s just enough of a creep to have the audience rooting against him. In other major supporting parts, Chris Elliott as Stiller’s longtime friend, Lin Shaye as Diaz’s unhealthily tan neighbor, W. Earl Brown as Diaz’s mentally challenged brother Warren, and Lee Evans as an architect with a secret all deliver their parts with believable gusto.


Video Quality

3.5/5

The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is delivered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Though the image’s sharpness is well above average, and the print used for the transfer is clean and free of any annoying artifacts, contrast seems to be just a bit under cranked, and color saturation is also a touch too subdued leading to flesh tones that are somewhat pale pink. The film has been divided into 30 chapters.

Audio Quality

3.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is very typically for a comedy much too front centric. A frolicsome moment at a mini racetrack provides the only noticeable use of the entire surround soundfield, the remainder of the movie being center channel heavy with the music directed mostly to the left and right and with almost nothing for the subwoofer to do.


Special Features

4.5/5

The disc offers two audio commentaries. The Farrelly Brothers talk together on the first track (with some additional comments added which the user can choose to branch off and listen to or not) and offer some information about the making of the film not contained on the copious featurettes below. Writers Ed Decter and John J. Strauss have the other commentary track to themselves breaking down the story elements to what they originally wrote and what the brothers added to the script later. The speakers in both tracks pause rather frequently waiting for something else to talk about.

A Claymation opening sequence not used in the film is available for viewing with optional directors’ commentary about it.

The disc offers the user the option to watch the theatrical cut of the movie of the extended version. I watched the extended version for the purposes of the review.

With the exception of the theatrical trailer (in 480p), all of these bonus featurettes are in 480i.

“Getting Behind Mary” is a series of behind-the-scenes rehearsals showing how the brothers direct the actors for their final takes on scenes. It runs 43 ¾ minutes.

AMC Backstory: There’s Something About Mary is an excellent making-of documentary produced for American Movie Classics and running for 20 ¾ minutes.

“Comedy Central: Reel Comedy” finds Harland Williams interviewing the stars and directors of the picture and offering a series of film clips. It lasts for 21 ½ minutes.

“Up a Tree with Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins” is an 11 ½-minute featurette which introduces the two musicians from the film talking somewhat tongue-in-cheek about their experiences making the movie and answering a series of fairly silly questions.

“Franks & Beans: A Conversation with W. Earl Brown” is a brief 5 ½-minute interview with the actor who talks about how he got to his character of Warren and how he tried to incorporate bits of business in the background of the movie, most of which he got away with without getting caught by the directors.

“Exposing Themselves” is a series of interviews with stars Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, and Chris Elliott who wildly praise their directors, discuss their characters, and talk about their most memorable moments during filming. It runs for 14 ½ minutes.

“Touchdown: A Conversation with Brett Favre” features a brief interview with the famous quarterback about his brief participation in the movie and his reaction to seeing the finished film. This runs 5 ½ minutes.

“Interview Roulette with Harland Williams” allows comedian Harland Williams 6 ¾ minutes to ramble on about very little in this improvisational comedy spot.

“Puffy, Boobs, and Balls” is a fun featurette with film’s make-up supervisor and actress Lin Shaye discussing the extreme make-up designs for her character along with the film’s famous “zipper” sight gag and the various stuffed dogs for the Puffy slapstick scenes. It runs for 10 ¾ minutes.

“Around the World with Mary features the film’s climactic sequence and allows the user to cycle through eight different languages using the audio button on the remote. This runs 5 ¾ minutes.

The Marketing Mary section of the disc offers a step-through gallery of international posters, the theatrical trailer in 480p which lasts 2 ½ minutes, and a succession of 13 TV spots which can be played individually or in one 7-minute grouping.

The “Everyday Should Be a Holiday” music video runs 4 ¼ minutes.

The outtake reel runs 3 ½ minutes.

The song “Build Me Up Buttercup” which plays at the end of the film is offered with karaoke subtitles and bouncing Puffy dog for those who want to sing along.

“Behind the Zipper” shows some behind-the-scenes shots hosted by the character of Magda (actress Lin Shaye) mostly tongue-in-cheek and forgettable. It lasts 4 ½ minutes.


In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)

There’s Something About Mary offers an uneven good time, hilarious at its best and fairly flat when not. The Blu-ray presents a pleasing video and audio package with the previous DVD bonus materials ported over (albeit in standard definition) to make a complete Mary experience on disc.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 2 ManW_TheUncool

ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 20 2009 - 08:21 PM

So is this one worth upgrading then? Hard to tell from that 3.5 score for PQ -- and the description doesn't say whether the film is supposed to look like that or whether something's actually wrong w/ the transfer.

Otherwise, thanks for the review, Matt.

_Man_
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