Kurt here with the third installment of Cinema de Gym, the new series in which I mix film with fitness by chiming in on the movies that play at my local health club. The cinematic portions of my gym visits come near the end of the hour, when lifting segues into cardio. Since the day's movie plays on a continuous loop, I never know what, exactly, I'm in for, but I seem to have knack for being just in time for the “money scenes,” if you will.
On the day that Swimfan was playing, I slipped in just as Jesse Bradford was being tricked into having chlorinated psycho sex with Erika Christensen, and recently, when the movie du jour was There's Something About Mary, you know I climbed up onto that elliptical just as Ben Stiller's zippered balls were ready for their close-up.
Even after 13 years, I'm baffled by There's Something About Mary, a movie that, for me, is the '90s equivalent of The Hangover – a massively popular, jump-on-the-laugh-wagon comedy success that's only minimally funny. I can vividly remember allowing myself to be convinced of the film's hilarity, when in fact I only truly laughed at scenes with Magda, the randy, sun-burnt neighbor. Isn't that funny? The communal mentality of giving mediocre comedy a pass just because so many other people have inexplicably decided it's hysterical? I know better now than to fall for such things, but so many other people don't, including the chorus of sweaty men surrounding me in the gym's dark theater room, all of them laughing and looking at each other with validation-seeking eyes like, “Don't we just love this franks-and-beans bit?!”
Whereas The Hangover appeals to the layman's thrill of drinking to forget and then straining to remember, Mary, of course, thrives on sheer shock value. Many would probably call it a pioneer of the censor-pushing sight gag. But without WTF moments like Stiller's we-got-a-bleeder wardrobe malfunction or Cameron Diaz's spunky hair gel incident, what are we left with? A creepy, predominantly mean-spirited affair that essentially endorses stalking? An inane comedy for rude, sweaty gym rats that dares to call itself a love story? That delightful “Build Me Up, Buttercup” coda notwithstanding, there's something about all of it that just doesn't add up, and one last belly laugh from a dude tickled by Mary's “retarded” brother was all I needed to cut off my cardio session early.
1. Scan the room thoroughly before entering a screening of There's Something About Mary.
2. Diaz, if you think about it, was launched to superstardom while being made a lust object, punch line and sperm receptacle all at once.
3. The “shocking” moments of Mary haven't aged any better than neighbor Magda's weathered, leathered skin.
4. My gym has got to get some new programmers!
What say you, TFE readers? Smitten with Mary? Looking forward to Bad Teacher?