erik lundegaard

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Me, Myself & Irene (2000)

You could aruge that Me, Myself & Irene is ultimately a self-serving comedy from the Farrelly brothers. From Dumb & Dumber to There's Something About Mary they've become accused of saying what shouldn't be said, and Me, Myself & Irene clearly demonstrates the dangers of holding everything in: of not saying what should be said.

Written by:
Peter Farrelly
Mike Cerrone
Bobby Farrelly

Directed by:
Bobby Farrelly
Peter Farrelly

Starring:
Jim Carrey
Rene Zellwegger
Chris Cooper
Robert Forster
Anthony Anderson
Anna Kournikova

Quote:
"It wasn't for me."

Jim Carrey plays Charley Baileygates, a nice Rhode Island state trooper, who, on his honeymoon, is attacked by his limousine driver (Tony Cox). Attempting to placate the driver, the wife discovers several points of interest — they're both MENSA club members — and they begin a prolonged affair. When the wife gives birth to triplets, Charley does his best to ignore the fact that they're black, like the driver; when his wife leaves him, he buries his anger, but spends the next 18 years avoiding confrontation.

According to the Farrellys, this means the world shits on him. In one horrific morning, his neighbor steals his newspaper (again) and chastises him while his dog takes a dump on Charley's lawn; his friends at the local barber shop bully him, a little girl jump-roping in the street bullies him, and — final straw — a neighbor lady at the local grocery store asks to go ahead of him in line and then brings out two grocery carts full of produce. Suddenly Charley splits in two. His confrontative side, buried all these years, emerges, speaks in a whispered Clint Eastwood monotone, and calls himself Hank. Immediately — like a superhero taking over from a mild-mannered alter-ego — he enacts revenge on the bullies. He embarrasses the neighbor-lady, holds the little girl underwater at a fountain, drives his friend's auto through the barber shop window, and takes a crap on his neighbor's lawn. The one person he bullies who never bullied him is a busty mother, breast-feeding in public. Essentially Hank takes over for the baby (oh, those Farrellys!), but, since this mother never did anything to Charley, there's more than a hint of misogyny in it.

Diagnosed as a schitzophrenic, Charley is about to be booted off the force, but has to drive a woman, Irene P. Waters (Rene Zellwegger), to upstate New York because of some supposed malfeasance. Unfortunately, much of the police force is corrupt, they want to kill Irene because of what they think she knows, then they want to kill Charley/Hank as well. Eventually the two (or three) go on the lam. The rest of the movie is chase, with Hank learning to be less of an asshole and Charley learning to be more confrontative.

Some good bits. Charley has raised the black triplets, genuises all, and they speak a kind of trash-talking intellectualism, dissing one another for low SAT scores or for possibly losing scholarships to Yale and winding up at Stanford "with all them sling-blade motherfuckers." There's also a good post-coital piss scene which will crack up most guys. But overall the movie isn't that funny. Part of the blame can probably go to the Farrellys — too many times they seem content with just being outlandish — but I'm wondering if Jim Carrey isn't all wrong for the role. In some ways this movie is The Mask Redux — put-upon schlep with crazy alter-ego — and that film was fine. But here Carrey may be too...soulless? I keep imagining Ben Stiller in the part.

Also, a chance to say something meaningful about our superhero culture was lost. The Hank character is essentially Batman, the Hulk, the Mask, Popeye after spinach, Clint Eastwood after whiskey. He's half the reason we go to the movies: to see someone fearless acting in a way we wouldn't. Yet he emerges out of psychological trauma. Which says exactly what about us? An exploration of this would have been interesting.

I know: that's asking a lot of the Farrellys. Next time I'll just be happy if they produce a funnier movie with fewer shots of poop.

—February 12, 2001

© 2001 Erik Lundegaard