Starring: Jim Carrey, Renee Zellwegger, Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee, Jerod Mixon, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins
Rated R for Sexual Content, Crude Humor, Strong Language and Some Violence
Like the recent "Little Boy," the Farrelly Brothers follow-up to their sleeper hit "There's Something About Mary" is essentially two movies in one. The first is a rather sweet, if offbeat, romantic comedy. The second is a seriously confused road movie/crime story. There are some things to like about this movie, including some truly hilarious sequences. The problem is the stuff between them.
Charlie Baileygates (Carrey) is the world's nicest guy. Despite the fact that his wife ran off with the limo driver (and leaving him with three illegitimate children, whom he dotes upon), Charlie the Rhode Island State Trooper is never without a smile. He's also the world's biggest doormat; not even a little girl jumping rope on the street takes him seriously. But there's something buried deep within him that is threatening to take over. His name is Hank, and he's Charlie's total opposite; whereas Charlie is gentle and ineffectual, Hank is rude, boorish and a total menace to society. As if things weren't complicated enough for our hero, he has to accompany a pretty criminal named Irene (Zellwegger) to upstate New York to face charges. The problem is that there are a lot of people who, as Charlie puts it, "would like to see her in an unmarked grave."
Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorcese. Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock. Jim Carrey and the Farrelly Brothers. Few actor/director pairings are so obvious and so effective. While Carrey can do light drama and subtle comedy, he's at his best when he's doing the wacky, physical stuff he's famous for. That makes him well-matched for the Farrellys, who do not understand the meaning of the term "subtlety." Or good taste. Carrey is on his game here, lending his rubber face and body to some gags that are outrageous enough that they could have only come from the Farrellys. These include a one-man fight (echoes of another great Carrey film, "Liar Liar") and him acting like two people at once. While it's in the service of some immature humor, it's clear that Carrey is working very hard.
His co-star, Renee Zellwegger, is as adorable as ever. She is surprisingly at home amid the tomfoolery, and she has great chemistry with Carrey (the two were at one point engaged to be married). As problematic as the film's crime story is (it makes zero sense), I wanted Charlie and Irene to end up together.
Alas, the film isn't a particularly good movie (even Peter Farrelly expressed his disappointment with it). The crime subplot is so scattershot that I'm sure a lot of it was left on the cutting room floor (the end credits seem to support this). And some sequences just aren't as funny as they could be. Some seem rehearsed to the point where they have lost their spontaneity, while others are too improvised. There are some great moments here and there, such as a cow that refuses to die (despite Charlie's best attempts) and a cop who has a painful encounter with a chicken. Much more disappointing is the lack of exploration in the Charlie/Irene/Hank triangle. I'm not talking about psychological depth (something that will never be found in a Farrelly brothers movie), but it's not taken advantage of. It feels like a missed opportunity.
"Me, Myself and Irene" is not a terrible movie. But it could have been great.