There’s Something About “There’s Something About Mary”

There's Something About MaryBack in 1998, I kept seeing an ad in the newspaper focusing on a woman with a funny hairstyle. I knew it was a movie, but I knew nothing about it until I read a positive review that somehow compelled me to see it.

Little did I know that I would be watching the movie that I’ve considered my favorite comedy ever since then.

I laughed so hard the first time I saw There’s Something About Mary in the theaters. I was young–17 at the time–and I didn’t get all the jokes (okay, I was also pretty sheltered), but I got enough of it to know that I loved it.

So I went back to see it again. And then again. It was the first movie I saw multiple times in the theater. I can probably name the movies on one hand that I’ve seen multiple times in the theater:

  • There’s Something About Mary
  • Star Wars Episode I (yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking…I was just so excited for Star Wars to return to the big screen!)
  • Avatar
  • Superbad
  • The Dark Knight

There are probably a few others, but those are the only ones I can remember seeing multiple times in the theater.

Anyway, I bring this up because I hadn’t watched There’s Something About Mary in years until this past weekend when I got the DVD from Netflix. What’s remarkable to me is that the movie isn’t dated at all. You could release it in the theaters tomorrow and it would work just as well as it did 15 years ago.

I think part of the reason it continues to work are the set pieces. From everything I’ve read about movies–particularly comedy and action movies–is that the best movies have iconic set pieces that build and build. There’s Something About Mary doesn’t just have one such scene–I can count several.

  1. The bathroom/zipper scene at the beginning
  2. The first drugged dog scene
  3. The interrogation scene after the rest stop arrest
  4. The second drugged dog scene

Also, it’s notable that Mary (Cameron Diaz) is a fantastic love interest, and Ben Stiller is relatable and likable. You like both of the main characters and you like both of them together. It’s amazing how many romantic comedies forget that we need to actually like both of the protagonists so we can understand why they like each other–you need more than a pretty girl and an awkward guy.

That’s my two cents on There’s Something About Mary. If you’ve somehow never seen it, I would highly recommend it.

What’s your favorite comedy of all time and why do you think it holds up to the test of time?

9 thoughts on “There’s Something About “There’s Something About Mary””

  1. Moonstruck, because of all the family dynamics around the love story. Cher and Nicholas Cage are fine, but Olympia Dukakis is hysterical in that movie. A la familia!

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  2. The Royal Tenenbaums kinda walks the knife edge between comedy and drama but everything about it is utterly brilliant, from the cinematography to the soundtrack to the characters and the way that they struggle to connect to each other but don’t really know each other despite being family. Easily Gene Hackman’s best role, and I even liked Ben Stiller in it, whom I do not always appreciate as an actor. Bill Murray was beautifully understated, and both Owen and Luke Wilson are sublime. I can’t say enough good about this movie. Funny, touching, at times intense, silly and dark.

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      • It is. Definitely my favorite of his (though I adore everything he touches) and favorite comedy overall. I’m a colossal nerd and I can quote The Royal Tenenbaums more thoroughly than I can Star Wars. My second favorite Wes Anderson film is probably Fantastic Mr. Fox, which you might enjoy as a Roald Dahl fan.

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        • That’s actually why I was asking–I LOVE the Fantastic Mr. Fox. I’ve watched it several times, and I’m delighted by it every time.

          Reply
  3. The Princess Bride, because it’s adventure, comedy and romance rolled into one. So quotable too – “Death cannot stop true love. It only delays it for a bit.”

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