8:00 PM, 11th June, 1999
I tried, I really tried to hate There's Something About Mary - it's a pure gross out comedy, relying on inane violence and pain for cheap laughs. The problem is the laughs are cheap, but there are heaps of them, and they're huge. The plot is pretty feeble romantic movie stuff: Ben Stiller has been in love with Mary (Cameron Diaz) ever since High School. He lost contact with her after an unfortunate accident with a zipper (ouch) and so sends private eye Matt Dillon to track her down. Matt finds her, and falls in love with her. He pretends to be an architect (her professed favourite occupation) in order to woo her. Ben finally figures out where she is and heads to Florida to find her. Along the way he gets arrested for murder, but is freed, and finally confronts Matt Dillon, and Lee Evans, also in love with Mary, as well as her old boyfriend. Who gets her? Who cares?
What makes There's...Mary so good is the pure puerility of the jokes - masturbation, things caught in zippers (I was wincing for weeks after that one), dogs on fire, dogs on speed, and fish hooks in faces - nothing is too low to be funny in this film. Ben Stiller is forced to take the worst of the pain (I'm still wincing about it) in the film. The film is not perfect - there are periods when you do wonder just what you're doing there. Cameron Diaz is not given nearly enough to do - although standing around looking gorgeous with her hair standing on end is something she does really well.
See this film, and guys - you'll be wearing button flies from then on.
10:00 PM, 11th June, 1999
Stanley Tucci's follow-up to Big Night (which he also wrote and co-directed with Campbell Scott) is a tribute to the screwball comedies of the 30s. The story concerns two out-of-work actors who accidentally stow away on a cruise ship. After a mediocre playwright (an uncredited Woody Allen) loses his financial backing the two actors Maurice and Arthur (Stanley and Oliver) find themselves unemployed. To make matters worse, they are trying to avoid the violent wrath of an alcoholic Shakespearean ham, Jeremy Burtom (Alfred Molina), whom Stan and Oliver had parodied. The two actors hide in a crate that is then loaded onto a cruise ship. Once on board, they take on assumed identities and fake elaborate death scenes to keep from being caught. This becomes their most challenging acting role of their careers. They have a friend and ally with the head Stewardess (Lili Taylor). Concealing themselves in different cabins they eavesdrop on conversations and learn of several nefarious plots. They also bump into a bunch of pretty strange characters: A Nazi head steward (Campbell Scott), a mysterious veiled woman (Isabella Rosellini), the ship's lovesick entertainer (Steve Buscemi) and a tennis pro with an unhealthy interest in Greek wrestling (Billy Connolly). The opening sequence of this entertaining and lightweight comedy is probably the funniest in the film.