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« From the Set to the Runway: Hepburn, Dunaway... Malick? | Main | Green Lantern: Slightly Enjoyable, Enormously Dumb. »
Friday
Jun172011

Cinema de Gym: 'There's Something About Mary'

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?!”

Stiller zips up

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.

Conclusions?

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?

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    [...]Cinema de Gym: 'There's Something About Mary' - Blog - The Film Experience[...]

Reader Comments (6)

I so wish The Film Experience (and other Oscarwatching sites) had already been around when Cameron Diaz was announced as the NYFCC winner. That would have been fun.

June 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRax

I'm so thrilled you didn't post a screenshot of Cameron Diaz with spunk in her hair. That cinematic moment has been so weirdly iconized.

June 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W

Kurt,

I'm really enjoying this series, and I look forward to seeing where it goes from here, but if I may offer a suggestion:

I think you're better than the sort of snobbish judgment of people whose tastes are different than yours. Generalized assumptions of people's tastes or tendencies as seen in this piece reflect badly on you as a writer. I don't mean to call you out, but I've been sort of astonished at how much this is happening in the film blogosphere these days. It's distracting and alienates and covers up any sense of a true voice as an author.

Like I said, I'm a fan of this series and I look forward to
seeing it progress. I don't really have an opinion about 'Mary' not having seen it in a long time, but I would encourage you to be more honest and less affected in your writing.

June 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

There's Something About Mary is an interesting film, with an interesting premise, that there really are women out there who possess some combination of beauty, affability and charm that make every man fall for them. But I'm not really sure they sell it with the Mary character (it takes more than SportCenter references).

Shock value humor in itself is fine, but it feels like the film never really earns it. The hair gel bit and the franks & beans bit feel so very manufactured, so obviously unnaturally set up.

That said, there are still things in this movie that make me chuckle. I admit, the dramatic crane shot coming toward Matt Dillon as he turns and exclaims "f*ck" gets me every time.

June 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

Hey RJ,

I appreciate your candor. It's really not my goal to simply belittle people's tastes; however, I will admit that I can get a bit snobbish when it comes to mainstream comedies that are squarely targeted at stereotypical straight men, if only because that sadly accounts for roughly 90 percent of mainstream comedies.

In this instance, and in this setting, I saw a cross section of what certainly seemed like testosterone-pumped groupthink, and the close-quarters only heightened it. I'm sorry if the writing rubbed you the wrong way but, for better or worse, I assure you it came from a true and honest place.

Glad you like the series!

June 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

i went to the same school as patrick. i remeber those girls from my school who wrote in. they were white trash...i always felt so bad for them. ebmlqs ebmlqs - Air Jordans France.

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkbfehm kbfehm

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