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'Me, Myself and Irene'

Carrey-d away: 'Me, Myself and Irene' crosses the line into pure tastelessness

Friday, June 23, 2000

By Ron Weiskind, Post-Gazette Movie Editor

One of my co-workers was "creeped out" by the images of Jim Carrey on the cover of the press kit for his new movie, "Me, Myself and Irene." Funny, but the movie had the same effect on me.

 
   
'Me, Myself And Irene'


RATING: R, for sexual content, crude humor, strong language and some violence

STARRING: Jim Carrey, Renee Zellweger

DIRECTORS: Bobby and Peter Farrelly

WEB SITE: www.memyselfand
irene.com

CRITIC'S CALL: 1 1/2 stars

 
 

That may be the only time I use the word "funny" in regard to the film, which struck me more as anguish exploited for laughs -- although if the movie had contained enough of those, I might not have minded.

Carrey plays a man with a split personality, which the press kit illustrates with one of those plastic devices on which the picture changes when you tilt it. Look at it one way, and you see the "gentle" Jim Carrey, with wide eyes and that big smile. Move it slightly, and you see the "mental" Jim Carrey, with a cigarette jammed in his mouth, which is scowling and smirking at the same time. It's the attitude of a man looking forward to trouble.

The nice half, Charlie, avoids confrontation at all costs. When his wife gives birth to African-American triplets, he says nothing. When she runs off with the father, a black Mini-Me with a huge chip on his shoulder, and leaves Charlie with the kids, he buries his humiliation and carries on.

By this time, everyone in town knows he can be pushed around -- not a good thing for a Rhode Island state trooper. But when he's pushed once too often, the dark half emerges, calling himself Hank and looking for payback.

So who's Irene? She's Renee Zellweger, a motorist stopped for a broken tail light who has an outstanding warrant in New York State. Charlie has to take her back, not knowing that mortal danger awaits.

Of course, that might not be as bad as Charlie and Hank both falling in love with her -- especially because this is a Farrelly Brothers movie. They're the filmmakers responsible for "Dumb and Dumber," "Kingpin" and "There's Something About Mary." They have never been known for subtlety, good taste or political correctness.

Instead, they specialize in delivering belly laughs that usually emanate from the groin. "Me, Myself and Irene" offers such knee-slappers as male sexual appliances, a man with a chicken's head rammed up his butt and enough use of the f-word (and the mother of all f-words) to fill several David Mamet plays.

Oh, your kids wanted to watch Jim Carrey acting silly? Didn't you see that R rating? Didn't you see "There's Something About Mary"?

If not for inappropriate humor in this movie, there would hardly be any at all. Charlie and Hank are pathetic, each in his own way, but Carrey makes them more real than perhaps the Farrellys intended. We all know men who, like Charlie, refuse to acknowledge the painful truth and deal with their problems. Hank is more of a caricature, but Carrey takes the edge off by making him a screwup. In one scene he actually feels bad about offending someone.

"We want to create characters that audiences will love enough for us to get away with murder," Peter Farrelly says. But I don't know that we love Charlie and Hank so much as we pity them. And there is nothing amusing about pity. As for Irene, she's more of a plot device -- someone for Charlie and Hank to play against, a target for the sexual humor.

But most of the gross stuff seems gratuitous, added to achieve the Farrelly quotient of tastelessness in a movie where it doesn't flow naturally.

Charlie Chaplin said life is a comedy in a long shot but a tragedy in close-up. "Me, Myself and Irene" gets too close for comfort.



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