Rated R - Running Time: 1:56 - Released 6/23/00

In the wake of the "intentionally offensive" trend in comedy films, which was at least partially inaugurated by writing/directing/producing brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly with their 1998 blockbuster There's Something About Mary, it would seem that Jim Carrey and the brothers F. would be the perfect team to deliver such goods. Before his foray into "serious" movies, like The Truman Show and Man On The Moon, Carrey was offending (and amusing) audiences for years with silly slapstick like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb & Dumber (also a Farrelly picture). But while Carrey has definitely returned to his roots in Me, Myself, & Irene, the Farrellys' new film suffers from several factors including but not limited to excessive length, a tiresome subplot, and an unflattering resemblance to a previous Carrey film. The main saving grace is Renée Zellweger, who, although she looks out of place among the pratfalls and poop jokes, lends a touch of sensitivity.

After being dumped by his beloved wife, Rhode Island state trooper Charlie (Carrey) becomes the town laughing stock and universal doormat. He gets no respect from anyone, but being a nice guy, he subverts all his hostility for those who mock him, and therefore develops a condition called "acute multiple personality disorder with involuntary narcissistic rage." I've had that. Finally he is pushed to the limit and is taken over by another personality named Hank, a smooth talking, trigger-happy hothead who doesn't hesitate to pick on little kids, start fights (which he ususally loses) with buffed-out athletes, and insult everyone he sees.

When out-of-towner Irene (Zellweger) is detained for her possible knowledge in an upstate New York criminal case, Charlie's boss (Robert Forster) decides this is the perfect chance for Charlie to take a break from the rat race. He is instructed to escort Irene back to New York for questioning and then take a well-needed vacation. But Irene's old boyfriend (Daniel Greene) and some corrupt federal agents he's in cahoots with (Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins) want her silenced before she gets there. Charlie, Hank, and Irene find themselves on the run from some very dangerous characters, and only if they put their three heads together can they hope to survive.

Neither Carrey nor the Farrellys are in top form here. Carrey shows again his propensity for physical comedy, and there are definitely some laugh-out-loud moments, but the material was covered much more effectively in The Mask. Anyone familiar with that film will notice the similarities: the shy, ineffectual version of Carrey's personality is the one the girl likes, but the brash, arrogant guy is the one who gets all the work done (not to mention all the jokes). Although he is in trouble with both the cops and the bad guys, he is able to foil the villains and vindicate his name. Finally, true love allows him to dispense with the extra persona and walk off into the sunset with his true love. Sound familiar?

The bit about the feds is dreadfully plodding, and seriously brings the film down; whenever Carrey is not on the screen, our minds tend to wander. Moreover, the offensive comedy, from animal abuse to anal humor, while abundant and genuinely offensive, is somehow just not as funny as it was in Mary. Overkill is also a problem: Charlie's three black genius sons (Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee, Jerod Mixon) discussing quantum physics in ghetto vernacular is amusing at first, but after the first dozen or so applications tends to wear thin. Zellweger is affable enough as the girl-next-door type, although she spends practically the entire movie being offended. And I can't say I blame her. ***

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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