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THE SCATOLOGICAL HUMOR of the Farrelly brothers, creators of Kingpin and There's Something About Mary, may be simplistic, but it's not without deeper meaning. Like>"/>
THE SCATOLOGICAL HUMOR of the Farrelly brothers, creators of Kingpin and There's Something About Mary, may be simplistic, but it's not without deeper meaning. Like their colleagues at South Park, the Farrellys enjoy nothing more than skewering a stereotype while cracking a good poop joke. They manage to both subvert the dominant paradigm and pander to the lowest common denominator.
me, myself & irene
written and directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly
with Jim Carrey and Ren饠Zellweger
opens June 23 at Meridian, Metro, Oak Tree, other theaters
Me, Myself & Irene reunites the Farrellys with Jim Carrey, in his less exalted days the star of the duo's most aptly titled effort, Dumb and Dumber. This time around, the hyperactively rubbery comedian plays Charlie, an easygoing Rhode Island state trooper. His wife deserts him, leaving behind their triplets, who aren't actually his biological children—we know this because they have black skin and genius IQs, just like his wife's lover. Charlie, sweet and rather dim, chalks this up to his half-Italian great-grandmother.
In fact, Charlie only sees what he wants to see, and over the years his perception problem has morphed into a vexing psychological condition. Swallowing every last bit of anger, he's gestated a completely separate and opposite personality called Hank. Lewd, violent, and unpredictable, Hank is everything that Charlie isn't. This doppelganger first appears just before Charlie meets Irene (Ren饠Zellweger), a tough blonde cookie whom the troopers have mistakenly arrested. It turns out that Irene is innocently enmeshed in the shady dealings of her boss, a country club developer. We never discover the exact nature of these shady dealings, except that they involve embezzlement, murder, and buying off the EPA. We know her boss is really slimy, though, because he's got broad shoulders and his name is Dicky. (You were expecting Raskolnikov?) Irene winds up on the lam with Charlie, but without his meds.
AT THIS POINT, the story begins to rely heavily on Carrey's trademark spastic calisthenics, but hilarity ensues anyway. The pouty Zellweger, lacking Cameron Diaz's toothy sparkle, makes for a generic love interest (to be fair, the script doesn't help her much). Oddly, Carrey's counterweight instead comes from the three actors playing Charlie's sons, who—literally and figuratively—burst out of the screen. Clad in Kangols and phat pants, they embody the Farrellys' playful subversion, as their dialogue shifts from gangsta-rap obscenities to the principles of quantum physics all in the same sentence.
Irene's pop psychology is only a tad more subtle than Mary's hair-gel gag: Everybody needs a little id with their superego. Hank is a blustering jerk—he's just as likely to call an albino "Milky" as punch someone for littering—but he does have a way of solving problems. It's his name Irene shouts when the bad guys show up, though in the end it's Charlie who wins the day.
The last 15 minutes of Irene consist of rote loose-end tying, and the villains are ho-hum—a shame, since one of them is played by Lone Star's brooding Chris Cooper. Still, for a film that celebrates physical humor, it's got plenty of less showy zingers: a backyard barbecue scene in which all the state troopers sport identical buzz cuts and mustaches; a bit featuring a kindly looking, gray-haired type ogling a woman's breasts and quipping, "It's like a dead heat in a zeppelin race!"
The Farrellys also reward their faithful with sly in-jokes and the reappearance of various minor cast members from their other movies; the credits include not only a gratuitous moment with the iconic Lin Shaye (Kingpin's landlady), but also a brief, funny final scene. After last year's prep-school-poignant Outside Providence, it's good to see the brothers' heartstring-tugging taking a backseat to their keen sense of the absurd. Though it lacks the glamour and cohesiveness of Mary, Irene contains, scene for scene, more gut laughs than any Farrelly effort so far. Meanwhile, a message materializes behind the potty humor: Into every life a little rain must fall, and pretending you're not getting wet won't bring back the sun.