Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Rundown: The Farrelly Brothers

The Rundown will be a regular feature on My Series of Tubes, chronicling the highlights (and occasional lowlights) of a certain artist or artists.  Our first subjects are Bobby and Peter Farrelly, godfathers of the modern gross-out comedy and patron saints of Providence, Rhode Island.  Let's start The Rundown.

Dumb and Dumber (1994)
What an opening salvo!  If casting Jim Carrey before he was the biggest comedy star in the world wasn't coup enough, releasing Dumb and Dumber at the tail end of Carrey's domination of 1994 (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask) put it over the top.  A wildly entertaining farce, Dumb and Dumber thrusts two idiot friends not only into a kidnapping scheme gone awry, but into a road picture at the same time. Jeff Daniels' general stiffness makes Carrey look all the more outrageous.

Kingpin (1996)
An underrated film (and probably the grossest of the gross-out comedies), Kingpin stars Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid as a former professional bowler and Amish farmer, respectively.  The real star of the show, though, is Bill Murary.  You've never seen a comb-over until you've seen THIS comb-over.

There's Something About Mary (1998)
The Farrelly Brothers hit the big time with There's Something About Mary.  Starring Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz, Mary was a huge hit.  The large supporting cast really makes the story go, though, with great additions from Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, Keith David, Chris Elliott, and Jeffrey Tambor.  And then, of course, there's the dog.  

Me, Myself, and Irene (2000)
Potentially the flop of the bunch, Irene stars Carrey again (this time opposite Renee Zellweger), playing the dual roles of a man suffering from multiple personality disorder.  A conscientious Rhode Island State Trooper (all Farrelly Brothers movies take place at least partially in Rhode Island), Carrey must transport convict Zellweger to a hearing.  Hijinks, as they must, ensue along the way, the pair not only having to deal with enemies from without but also with Hank, Carrey's Mr. Hyde-type alter ego.  Less funny than the others, I walked out of the theater thinking that I didn't like it very much.  But then I felt the pain in my face...the result of carrying a broad smile for 90 minutes.

Stuck on You (2003)
This one is a Farrelly Brothers' magic trick.  The premise is so stupid, it must have seemed like an incredible long shot to pull off.  Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear (you have to hand it to the Farrellys...they get good talent to be in their movies) play small-town conjoined twins.  Kinnear is an actor who wants to move to Hollywood, but Damon gets panic attacks when he gets stressed.  Amazingly, Damon and Kinnear bring the film off.  It boasts a hilariously self-deprecating cameo by Cher (playing herself) and a great supporting turn by Eva Mendes.

Hall Pass (2011)
A comedy about two horny men given a "hall pass" (a week "off" from marriage) by their wives seems, at first blush, even harder to pull off than a comedy about conjoined twins trying to make it in Hollywood.  Ripe for risible exploitation of women and lowest-common-denominator comedy, Hall Pass is actually rather winning.  The best part of the film is that, when given their "hall passes," friends Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis discover that they're not the playboys that their witty banter allows them to pretend to be...and maybe, they don't want to be.  The guys learn something about themselves, perhaps even strengthen their marriages, and we can all have some pretty hearty laughs along the way.

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