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Friday, Feb. 9, 2001

'ME, MYSELF & IRENE'

There's something about Carrey


"Me, Myself & Irene," this season's most-hyped comedy, would seem to have a lot going for it: The Farrelly Brothers are following up on the mega-success of "There's Something About Mary," while Jim Carrey is returning to his crowd-pleasing antics after proving his range in "Man on the Moon" and "The Truman Show."

But before you find yourself in a theater seat bleeding from both ears as your brain hemorrhages from the sheer idiocy on display here, take a moment to think back, way back, to 1994 and the first collaboration between Carrey and the Farrelly Bros. "Dumb and Dumber," while it certainly lived up to its title, was arguably the most annoyingly moronic movie of a dumbed-down decade (and one of a select few films that this critic can recall actually walking out on.)

Alas, as evidenced by their new film, this particular combination of filmmakers and star seems to bring out the worst in both parties. Call it a meeting of mindlessness, or a super-synergy of scatological stoopidity. Or just call it plain old bad.

"Me, Myself & Irene" is shamelessly high-concept: Imagine a gross-out comedy version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" directed by the Curly Stooge with Tourette's syndrome, and there you go. Carrey plays a good-natured Rhode Island highway patrolman named Charlie, who is nice to the point of being a pushover. After a decade-plus of pent-up frustration at being the town's laughingstock (his blonde wife leaves him with three black kids that obviously aren't his), Charlie develops a split-personality disorder.

His new personality, Hank, is composed of all the vilest, repressed aspects of Charlie's id and is not afraid to act on them. While Charlie is all apologetic and wimpy when trying to tell a motorist he's illegally parked, Hank will take the guy's car and drive it through a wall. While Charlie will timidly ask his neighbors to kinda, maybe, please, stop their dog from crapping on his lawn (shown in monstrous closeup), Hank just strides on over to their yard, pulls down his pants, and . . . well, use your imagination.

Charlie finds himself in hot water when he's asked to escort a gangster's ex-girlfriend named Irene (Renee Zellweger), whom the Feds are trying to recruit as a witness. When the mob decides to whack her, it's up to Charlie/Hank to save the day.

Irene likes the sweet-natured Charlie, but he goes all limp in a crisis, and it's up to the Clint Eastwood-like Hank to take charge. Irene finds Hank is a bit too unlimp for her tastes, though, as he crudely attempts to land her in bed. The film eventually develops into a struggle between Hank and Charlie for Irene's affections.

The humor here, as in "There's Something About Mary," is a combination of post-John Waters gross-out -- vaginal infections, dildos and a cop with a chicken head stuck up his butt -- and aggressively anti-PC jibes at albinos, lesbians and the disabled. Unlike the similarly scatological "South Park," however, there's not a trace of irony, satire or inspired silliness to be found.

What remains is plenty of garden-variety idiocy: One scene has Charlie trying to put an injured cow out of its misery by shooting it in the head -- repeatedly -- and then, when that doesn't work, strangling it. This goes on forever and is about as funny as a George Will column.

Carrey is one of those comedians (Robin Williams also springs to mind) whose idea of pacing is more, more, more! He just never lets up, and his desperate mugging quickly moves from funny to tiresome. His Jerry Lewis-inspired foolishness has always been an acquired taste, but it's rarely been this grating. The film's climactic sequence in which Carrey rolls around on the ground fighting with himself -- as Hank and Charlie struggle for control of his body -- is embarrassing to sit through. (A similar prank is done much better in Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead 2.")

"Me, Myself & Irene" is a movie made by 40-year-olds for 14-year-olds, and it shows. If I write the word "poo poo" here and it sends you into uncontrollable fits of laughter, then by all means go see this film. If not, well, congratulations, you've outgrown the target market.

"Me, Myself & Irene" is playing at Hibiya Eiga and other theaters.


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