Me, Myself & Irene (2000) / Comedy-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for sexual content, crude humor, strong language and some violence
Running time: 116 min.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Renee Zellweger, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, Michael Bowman, Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee, Jerod Mixon, Robert Forster, Tony Cox
Cameo: Anna Kournikova, Shannon Whirry
Director: Bobby & Peter Farrelly
Screenplay: Bobby & Peter Farrelly, Mike Cerrone
Review published November 21, 2009
The Farrelly Brothers (There's Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber) fourth film sees them concocting a Jekyll and Hyde split-personality scenario to take advantage of Jim Carrey's (The Truman Show, Liar Liar) ability to play wildly different extremes. An unbridled Carrey also gives them the vehicle on which to ride their brand of gross-out physical humor for all its worth, upping the retch moments beyond even their previous politically incorrect efforts. Unfortunately, at this point in their careers, the Farrellys suffer from the audience's preconception that they are going to do something gross in every scene, and that expectation telegraphs the so-called funny moments before they happen. Shock humor works best when it is unexpected, and Me, Myself & Irene has little but shock going for it in the humor department, making this a painfully unfunny effort mostly memorable for the fact that nearly every body fluid and bathroom function is depicted on the screen.
Carrey's primary role is as Rhode Island cop Charlie Baileygates, a pushover of a man who sees his wife walk out on him for another man, leaving him to care for their three little triplets, who become very big teens, that he's too daft to know belongs to the guy she's dumping him for (the fact that they are all African-American might be the obvious clue). His neighbors don't respect him, his coworkers think he's a joke, and even little girls around the town insult him for trying to enforce the law. He's on the fast track to a nervous breakdown, and it comes in a fracturing of his fragile personality embodied in Hank, the alter ego that emerges to handle the dirty work Charlie is too nice to tackle. Hank is everything Charlie is not -- fearless, arrogant, and mean -- and completely out of control. Heck, he pushes a breastfeeding baby out of the way in order to feed himself. Eventually Charlie/Hank team up with fugitive Irene (Zellweger, Nurse Betty), a gal with a history with dubious ties to organized crime, to settle a fine in upstate New York.
Not surprisingly, Carrey's manic performance is the best thing about the film, where his rubber-faced talents are put to their best usage in distinguishing the difference between the mild-mannered Charlie and completely impish Hank. One could say that it's a more mean-spirited rehash of his performance in The Mask. At nearly two hours, the one-dimensional premise wears thin shortly after it is introduced, and the Farrelly Brothers have nowhere to go but progressively more vulgar in order to hash up some laughs. They succeed in the vulgarity, but not the laughs.
There's some mild romantic comedy elements underneath, but these developments are dead on arrival, as there's little in either Carrey or Zellweger's respective characters to suggest that they'd be remotely interested in one another, much less have potential for a long term relationship. Zellweger is a good comedienne, but her character isn't written to be particularly funny, and it's hard for her to find any room to roam when Carrey is stealing every bit of the focus. Silly supporting characters are tossed in to give Carrey more characters to play off of, including an albino that may or may not be a sociopath and Charlie's three sons, who are written to be jive-talking geniuses.
It's hard to imagine, given how thin the material is, that the Farrellys had to trim out a plethora of characters and scenes in order to trim this down to just under the two hour mark. The end credits include dozens of actors and actresses whose scenes had been given the axe, either down to just a token appearance or out of the film altogether. In order to make up for plot points excised, the Farrellys employ the use of a narrator, country musician Rex Allen Jr., to tie up the loose ends. It sounds quite a bit like TVs "The Dukes of Hazzard", though the narration doesn't add particularly much to the humor other than the semblance of plot cohesion.
The Farrelly Brothers' kitchen-sink approach smacks of desperation to keep generating laughs in place of an interesting story or characterizations. Recurring jokes abound, and they don't get funnier with each repetition. Dogs defecate, cows are shot in the head, and chickens get their heads stuffed up a human rectum. Around the time you see one of the main character's thumb get shot off, you'll know that the Farrelly's have lost the ability to distinguish wincing from laughter in audiences.
Like the Charlie/Hank persona, the brothers try to have it both ways by being mirthful and sweet at times then rude and crude the next. Sometimes you just can't have it both ways; sometimes the elements just cancel each other out. What's left is a monstrosity of bad taste, and the Farrelly Brothers' worst movie.
©2009 Vince Leo