WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
I absolutely loved revisiting the Farrelly Brothers' There's Something About Mary. This is one of those rare movies that make me scream laughter and annoy my spouse spectacularly. Just to get this out of the way quickly: If you're a fan of the film, you're going to need to buy this set—dubbed There's Something 'More' About Mary—which improves upon the original DVD release in all respects.
Famous for their unapologetically lowbrow and sleazy approach to storytelling, the Farrelly Brothers have delivered such bawdy gems as Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and Me, Myself & Irene. But the brothers produced something special in Mary—a gross-out comedy filled with hilarious moments that range from eye-popping set pieces to giggle-worthy minor details. But the true appeal of There's Something About Mary is its enormous heart—a quality that the brothers have never repeated to quite the same effect.
We first meet poor Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) in 1985, on the verge of his high-school prom in Cumberland, Rhode Island. Thanks to a couple of minor miracles—concerning a mentally retarded boy named Warren (W. Earl Brown) and, weirdly, Ted's mouth full of braces—Ted finds himself the date of the fabulously gorgeous Mary Jensen (Cameron Diaz). But an outrageous episode of humiliation screeches Ted's dream night to a halt and alters his life forever. Thirteen years later, Ted still pines for his lost Mary. With the help of his slimy friend Dom (Chris Elliott), Ted enlists the dubious aid of the even slimier Pat Healy (Matt Dillon), a private dick who agrees to find Ted's old flame. Unfortunately, down in Florida, Pat falls head over heels for Mary and wants her for himself. After all, there's just something about Mary—and we find that several other sleazeball males in the film are similarly drawn to her elusive charms.
But you know the story. And you might dismiss it as simply a gross-out pic unworthy of a second peek, but the truth is that the charms of There's Something About Mary extend beyond the jokes about bodily fluids and the naughty words. Of course, the film relies heavily on the type of humor that will make you wince, but Mary is also a surprisingly warm romantic comedy that delivers a sweet payoff.
Ben Stiller is a perfect sad sack as Ted, and the performers surrounding him are equally fine. Matt Dillon is fantastically sleazy as Pat Healy, and like the rest of the cast, he seems to be having a rollicking great time on the set. Dillon's main squeeze Cameron Diaz exudes just the right mixture of beauty and effervescence.
The original DVD release of There's Something About Mary was an acceptable disc, but it had some faults, mostly due to the fact that it was released early in the history of DVD. It sported a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer and a small collection of supplements. Frankly, I've been anticipating a new anamorphic transfer for quite a while, and I'm glad to finally receive it, along with 11 extra minutes and a large variety of extras that—at least in my opinion—demand a repurchase.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Fox presents There's Something About Mary in a (yeah!) anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. I'm very impressed by the level of detail in this effort. I noticed fine detail reaching into the backgrounds. The colors are warm and accurate, and black levels are solid. I noticed some very minor flecking and other minor flaws, but nothing much distracted from this impressive effort. I strained to catch edge halos, but I discovered them in only a few instances, and they were minor. This is a terrific transfer that alone makes this upgrade worthy of a purchase.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc's Dolby Digital 5.1 track gets the job done. I didn't perform a comparison against the original disc, but I can't imagine that this track does anything differently. Mary just isn't a movie that offers a dynamic soundtrack. The front soundstage isn't exactly expansive, but I noticed some subtle stereo openness. Dialog, however, is clear and natural, with no brittleness. Surround activity is virtually nil.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
Sure, the original release had a few cool features, but this set goes all out. With this many features, the set can't help but be repetitive now and then, but by and large, these extras are fun to watch and add to the enjoyment of the film. Without further ado, here's the breakdown.
First, you can select between the Theatrical Version and the Extended Version. The extended version adds about 11 minutes of footage that mostly focuses on the Chris Elliot character and the Jeffrey Tambor character. (Tambor, I'm sure, must have been quite disappointed by all the cuts to his character in the theatrical version.) Depending on your selection, you go to a separate submenu.
If you choose Theatrical Version, you have several bonus options. First, you can listen to a Directors Commentary with Peter & Bobby Farrelly. This is mostly the same commentary that appeared on the original disc, but you can also select the With Directors BONUS Commentary option, which lets you access newly recorded commentary material when a lovebird icon appears onscreen. Their new conversation is essentially a commentary about their previous commentary.
New to this set is a Writers Commentary with Ed Decter & John J. Strauss. They have a jovial conversation that's pretty informative and entertaining, particularly if you're a writer. These writers hold a lot of respect for the Farrellys, pointing out and complimenting the sequences that the brothers added to the film. (They call the Farrelly contributions "adding value to the film.") In fact, they go on and on and on about the brothers' genius and how they seemingly transformed their terrible script into a thing of awesome beauty. The commentary has a good feel to it, but there are some dead spots. Interestingly, this commentary is available only over the theatrical version.
The final feature on Disc 1 is the original Clay Animated Titles, an alternative opening sequence created with claymation. You can view the titles with optional commentary by the Farrellys. When you watch this sequence, you'll become even more appreciative of the theatrical opening credits.
If you choose Extended Version, a similar set of options appears, minus the writers' commentary.
The first of many supplements on Disc 2 is the 43-minute Getting Behind Mary documentary, which features recent interviews with Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Lin Shaye, and Brett Favre, focusing on the experience of working with the Farrelly brothers. Much of the piece is in the fly-on-the-wall format, as we watch the direction of certain scenes. You'll be amazed by all the work that goes into each scene.
Backstory: There's Something About Mary is a 21-minute retrospective featurette about the origins and preproduction of the film. We learn about Owen Wilson as a potential lead actor, as well as other casting decisions. We glimpse the very unprofessional and hilarious set that the Farrellys fostered. The piece has many clips from the finished film, but there are also numerous interesting discussions about the film's audience reception, and so on.
Next is Comedy Central: Reel Comedy, a 21-minute piece hosted by Harland Williams. Interviews and anecdotes start to get repetitive at this point, and you wonder if this huge special edition is too much of a good thing.
Best Fight: Ben Stiller and Puffy the Dog is an entertaining little 3-minute excerpt from the MTV Movie Awards, in which Stiller accepts his award for Best Fight and introduces a short mockumentary about shooting the infamous scene.
Marketing Mary includes a gallery of international posters, the theatrical trailer, and a selection of TV spots. There's also a mildly amusing easter egg in this section.
Exposing Themselves: Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, and Chris Elliott is a 14-minute featurette that continues with the theme of "redundant special features," but it's a fun watch anyway. In new interviews, the actors talk about their approaches to their characters, and they compliment each other quite a lot. They share more Farrelly stories, including one very funny one about Peter Farrelly's weenie. This featurette is memorable for its extreme closeups of the actors.
Next is Up A Tree With Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins, an 11-minute featurette that starts with interviews with musicians such as Ric Ocasek about the history and musical influences behind Richman. Then, we get a strange little interview with Richman and Larkins about their background, their first cars, and their experiences with the Farrellys. Richman admits to being bad at lip-syncing. The featurette's video-collage style is a bit annoying.
Franks & Beans: A Conversation With W. Earl Brown is a 5-minute talking-head piece about how Brown developed the mentally retarded character Warren. He talks about various influences from "great retarded characters in film," such as in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Rain Man, and Sling Blade. It's interesting to see Warren as a laidback, normal fella.
Next is Touchdown: A Conversation With Brett Favre, a 5-minute interview with the Green Bay quarterback. He talks about how he got his tiny role, and he admits to being nervous on the set and in the eventual audience watching the film.
The 7-minute Interview Roulette With Harland Williams is just what it promises to be: a strange, free-form interview with the dude who played the hitchhiker.
Puffy, Boobs, and Balls is an 11-minute piece about the makeup and prosthetics used in key sequences. We get a split-screen interview with designer Tony Gardner and actress Lin Shaye, and just looking at her, you'll be amazed by the makeup job. Then, Gardner talks about the difficult creation of Puffy the dog. Magda's boobs are covered in depth. Also interesting are the discussions of the semen on the ear and the franks and beans.
Behind The Zipper is a 5-minute featurette about the horror of catching your privates in your fly. Magda is your hostess for an intimate look at the zipper scene. You actually get interviews with an emergency technician, a urologist, a psychologist, and a lawyer about the potential tragedy. This one's really fluffy and silly.
Next is a pretty worthless feature called Around The World With Mary, with which you can watch the final scene of the film with eight different languages, on the fly with your Audio button. Funny, huh?
"Build Me Up Buttercup" Karaoke is exactly what it sounds like, essentially the end-credits sequence complete with karaoke lyrics at the bottom of the frame.
"Every Day Should Be A Holiday" The Dandy Warhols Music Video is again exactly what it promises.
Finally, you get the 3 minutes of Outtakes that appeared on the original DVD. They're just as funny here as they were the first time.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
A definite improvement over the previous release, There's Something 'More' About Mary presents a fabulous transfer and generous extras that will require you do open up your wallet and fork out the cash. Give this "gross-out movie with heart" a second chance.