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There's Something About Mary (R)
20th Century Studios; AFI Catalog; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
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This came out in 1998, and I reckon I must have first seen it on TV or VHS or something, sometime in the early 2000s. I'm fairly sure that at the time, I wasn't wild about it, and probably didn't have any plans to ever watch it again. But I did finally watch it on DVD in 2019. And I still wasn't wild about it. First I suppose I should say that pretty much the only thing I remembered about the movie was the infamous "hair gel" scene, which was pretty gross. And really, most of the humor in the movie is not to my taste, though I suppose I found enough of it amusing that I didn't actually dislike the movie. Although I don't feel like I'll ever want to watch it a third time. Anyway... there's just so much that's wrong about this movie. (For example, stalking for love.) Although one thing I do like about the movie is that there's a sort of troubadour/narrator who shows up once in a while to sing about the plot.

Well, it begins in 1985, but most of the movie takes place thirteen years later. In both periods, the main characters are played by the same actors, so it's kind of weird seeing them play teenagers at the beginning. Ben Stiller plays Ted, who asks a girl out, but she isn't really interested. Later, some other high schoolers are picking on a mentally challenged guy named Warren, and Ted steps in to defend him. It then turns out that Warren is the brother of the hottest girl at school, Mary (Cameron Diaz), who is grateful to Ted for helping her brother. She later asks Ted to go to prom with her. So on the day of the prom, Ted shows up at her house, and meets her parents (played by Keith David and Markie Post). And... things soon start going very badly for Ted, but I don't want to get into any details. I'll just say Ted and Mary never get to go on their date, and not long after that, she and her family move away.

We then see that in the present, Ted has been telling this whole story to a psychiatrist (who wasn't actually listening). Ted later talks to his friend Dom (Chris Elliott), who advises him to hire a detective named Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to try and find Mary. Ted isn't sure this is a good idea (he rightly thinks it seems too stalkery), but he finally goes along with it. Unfortunately, Pat is a scumbag, and after he finds Mary, he decides to lie to Ted about her, to make him lose interest. This is because Pat has decided he wants her for himself. (Other sites may say he fell in love with her, but not for one second did it ever occur to me while watching the movie that that had happened. It just seemed to me 100% that he wanted her because she's hot.) So, Pat moves to Miami, where Mary lives, and starts lying to her about himself, using his surveillance skills as a detective to get information about what kind of guy she'd be interested in. However, Mary has a friend named Tucker, who doesn't trust Pat. (He seems to have perfectly good reasons for that, although there's another twist to the plot involving Tucker, which I don't want to spoil.) Anyway, Ted eventually goes to Miami himself, hoping to reconnect with Mary. But beyond that, I guess I don't want to spoil anything that happens.

Throughout the movie, a lot of weird things happen, most of which could be viewed as either funny or offensive, I guess. (But probably some of the things are just weird.) I did like that there were a lot of familiar people in minor roles, including Lenny Clarke, Sarah Silverman, Khandi Alexander, Jeffrey Tambor, and Harland Williams. And I liked that Mary was such a genuinely nice person that it would make sense for just about anyone to fall in love with her whether she was good-looking or not... even if I couldn't help feeling that most of the people who supposedly loved her (yes, there were several) were the sort of jerks who probably didn't appreciate her personality nearly as much as her looks. And I guess the plot did have some decent twists. So, whatever flaws it has, it's not exactly a bad movie. Still, it's hard for me to overlook its problematic aspects, and even if I could, it still wouldn't really be my cup of tea.


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