There's Something About Mary

There's Something About Mary (1998)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Documentary, Featurettes, Outtakes, Music Video

When it first appeared in movie theaters in 1998, "There's Something About Mary" was one of the biggest surprise box office hits and it seemingly spawned an entirely new direction for romantic comedies, taking the genre into the gross-out realms. While some of these entries were successful, the majority were cheap and stupid knock-offs of the same theme, geared towards pubescent audiences, "There's Something About Mary" still stands above that crowd as a comedy that also has class.

Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) is a high school nerd who's hardly hitting it on with the girls, but for some reason Mary Jensen Matthews (Cameron Diaz), the school's most popular girl is strongly attracted to him. They plan to go to the prom together but a very unusual and humiliating accident puts Ted in a peculiar situation and to hospital as a result. I am not giving away what's happening here – you have to see this to believe it!

After the incident the two loose sight of each other but thirteen years later Ted is still thinking about Mary. He has not had a single girlfriend ever since and when his daydreams become unbearable he decides to hire a private eye to find out the whereabouts of his lost love. Pat (Matt Dillon), the detective manages indeed to track Mary down and immediately falls in love with the outgoing girl. He leads Ted on a cold trail and then starts courting Mary himself. Armed with is private-eye gadgets he is able to hear every word she says while he's not around, and immediately makes up his life story as he goes along to pose as the perfect man. Soon he learns that he is not the only one trying to get the girl, though, and a fierce competition flares up. In the meanwhile Ted finds out what really happened and is soon on his way to Miami to meet Mary and tell her he still loves her. The result is a riotous chaos of liars and lovers.

Created by the two brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly who have climbed to Hollywood stardom ever since and have managed to build a avid cult following for their work, this film is a thrill-ride toying with the problems of adolescent sexuality and romancing in general, mocking them into absurdity. The film is constantly using stylistic elements for a number of comical realms to keep the action exciting and the humor interesting. From straight physical slapstick humor to sitcom all the way to cleverly placed innuendo, the film covers the entire palette of comedy. It is very charming at doing that and hardly gets silly or predictable. As a matter of fact, many of the jokes and situations are quite inventive and intricately woven into each other, making "There's Something About Mary" a greatly enjoyable and funny movie experience.

Interestingly "There's Something About Mary" constantly walks the thin line between cleverly written comedy and silly slapstick, which can be very dangerous. In the hands of the Farrelly brothers however the formula succeeds, squeezing every bit of laughability out of jokes without ever really going too far. The humor is very direct and unambiguous, not to say lewd at times, which might have been one of the factor's for the movie's success and appeal. The hair gel scene itself is cult material and it is only one of a rapid fire series of jokes in this screwball comedy.

Having said all that, the most convincing part about "There's Something About Mary" are the actors however, who deliver their lines and characters in a great and memorable way. Ben Stiller's character has a lot of sympathy simply through his on-screen presence, and Stiller manages to keep him always on the edge of being a lovable shy geek rather than a hopeless fool. Stiller is nicely complemented by Lee Evans, who unfortunately plays a rather small, although important, part in the film. Cameron Diaz plays the titular Mary and uses her entire charming personality to create a lovable character that is convincing, attractive and heartwarming. Her natural radiance helps make Mary the center of attention as soon as she enters the screen. Without question the real highlight of the film is Matt Dillon however, whose portrayal of the sleazy private eye is not only screamingly funny, but clearly shows how much fun he must have had playing the part.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is now taking "There's Something About Mary" into the high definition world on this Blu-Ray disc. Presenting the movie in a pristine 1080p widescreen transfer, the image quality is simply meticulous and is without any flaws. Clean and clear, without noise or grain, and with an incredible amount of detail, the film is a pleasure to behold. Razor sharp and with solid black levels from the dark nighttime scenes to the brightest daylight shots, the image is always perfectly clean and defined on this release. Clearly, this transfer is everything it should have been.

The release is complemented by a DTS 5.1 HD Master Lossless Audio track that also comes to life wonderfully on the disc. The soundtrack sounds very natural and uses a lively ambience to establish the outdoor settings, and the increased resolution of the lossless audio results in a clarity of the track that wasn't there before. It is literally breathing. It is a balanced mix that has crystal clear high ends, as well as a good bass extension that is neither exaggerated nor obtrusive. Dialogue is perfectly placed and matched with the soundtrack, always keeping it above the rest of the other sonic elements, thus ensuring it is understandable at any given time. Thanks to the lossless track, the music of the film, which consists to a large part of familiar pop tunes of the respective era, is also coming to life like never before with remarkable clarity.

The release is chock full of bonus materials coming from the DVD Collector's Edition the studio release a few years ago. First up you will find the theatrical and the unrated cut of the movie on the disc, giving you the choice which film to watch. Also you will find a number of commentary tracks on the disc as well as a selection of outtakes.
The meat of the release are the countless featurettes, covering pretty much all aspects of the movie's production as well as more scene specific details. The disc also contains the AMC Backstory documentary and the beloved "Mary around the world" clip, showing you a scene form the film in a number of different languages. The disc is rounded out by the music video form The Dandy Warhols.

"There's Something About Mary" is an easy Blu-Ray release to recommend. It is a hilarious movie that has a huge following and it arrives here in perfect condition for the high definition age. Filled with extras and a great feature presentation of both versions of the film, this is a disc you should definitely check out some time.