Me, Myself & Irene

Another one of those flicks I caught a few months late at the cheap theatre. Not being a big fan of Jim Carrey's physical antics, you can imagine I felt pretty strapped for entertainment during these, the really dead days of summer cinema. That said, I found myself sort of digging Me, Myself & Irene. Here Carrey's runaway mugging is restrained to a degree where it actually serves the story and the character without becoming mere empty shtick. Whether this is due to Carrey's new maturity as an actor (following his appearances in three serious films) or his comfort with the Farrellys, I'm not sure, but he's tolerable - even watchable - and that's saying a lot.

There is some plot about the titular Irene (Renée Zellweger, a perfect comic foil for Carrey) being chased by various bad guys for knowing too much about a corrupt country club's shady ecological record, and Carrey as the Rhode Island cop chosen to escort her back to New York state even though he is suffering from a (clinically unsupported) split personality syndrome. Mostly, though, this movie's about the gags - in both senses of the word.

After seeing the Farrellys' There's Something About Mary and Outside Providence (which they didn't direct themselves), I think I actually like what these guys are doing with comedy: blending dark, extremely vulgar humor with corny human relationship stuff, and actually making it work. This is due, I think, to the brothers' genuine humanity and inclusiveness, which is evidenced throughout Irene, from their love of fringe personality types (like an albino with a telescopic lens attached to his glasses) to their jovial respect for family (Carrey raises three enormous black boys who are both potty-mouthed and mentally gifted; that they still unconditionally love their "Dad" is a Farrelly gift), and their affection for their home state of Rhode Island. Sick as the jokes can be, the directors still have clear sympathy for their characters. Heck, these guys are so nice, even during the end credits they point out each and every extra in the film!

So while I wasn't rolling in the aisles (the Farrellys have yet to perfect their comic timing), I still think Irene stands head and shoulders above the scores of "feel-good gross-out" movies (Road Trip, et al) out there. And it certainly pushes the envelope of bad taste more than John Waters can ever hope to do these days.