Saturday, July 29, 2000

Me, Myself & Irene / * (2000)

“Me, Myself & Irene” is exactly what happens when filmmakers stake into new territory, lose sensible navigation, fail to realize their mistake and repeat the process for lack of better enterprises. After their lame and pretentious effort that is “Outside Providence,” one might have hoped that the brothers Farrelly, famous for their hits like “Dumb And Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary,” would retrace the steps that gave them success in the first place for their next creative endeavor. That, needless to say, might have been the last thing on their minds, especially since the film features the comedic return of Jim Carrey, whom one reader of mine says “can make any screenplay worth the ticket price.” Little did he fail to realize that there is material sometimes so bad that no one can redeem its frequent inadequacies.

Carrey’s comedy routine has not exactly enticed me over the years, usually as a result of pairing his immeasurable ambition with premises of the direct opposite. This trait, admitedly, is what made him the appropriate candidate for the role of Andy Kaufman in “Man On The Moon,” which documented the life of a comedian who wasted his initiative on material lacking any of its own appeal or energy. And as such, Carrey exhibited a true, worthwhile forte; the ability to successfully dramatize the life of someone with a similar background and style (it is even said that Kaufman has been idolized by Carrey, too).

This is the type of movie that motion picture historians will surely use as evidence of that comparison. Carrey is filled with energy that shoots off scales, all while the plot he is trapped in unfolds using the same stupid jokes as an anchor. He plays Charlie Baileygates, a kind and generous state trooper whose wife falls in love with a dwarf, runs off with him, and abandons her three kids for him to raise. Through cargos of hassle from everyone around him, a split personality emerges: Hank, a crude, sexist, loud and overbearing creep whose low grow of a voice echoes a reference to the Dirty Harry movies. The department that employs Charlie is concerned with this, and demands that, after he completes his latest task, takes some time off to get his life together. The new task involves Irene P. Waters (Renée Zellweger), a taunting female running from someone she snitched on, whom Charlie must escort safely to a particular (but seemingly unimportant) destination. There is trouble waiting in the distance, alas, when both personalities fall in love with Irene, and two (err, three) of them become fugitives on the run.

There are several little details here that inspire a series of awkward plot interventions, the only funny ones being the circumstances in which Hank and Charlie get into physical arguments regarding their love for Irene, at one point showcasing how Carrey throwing punches at himself can drag him away from the wheel of a moving car (this is all as a result of Charlie losing his schizophrenic medication). Some elements generate stereotypes, such as the perception of African Americans being the only characters allowed in the movie to slur extreme vulgarities, and most others involve the typical traits of any recent major comedy: penis jokes, breast jokes, urine jokes, and even dildo jokes. Any offense taken to movies with this kind of approach can be subverted, at least to my terms, if the movie compensates itself with some genuine laughs. But since “Me, Myself & Irene” has tone-deaf outlooks on the majority of its situations, there is an excuse to be offended.

Laughs are not the only missing link here, however. Though a premise is firmly grounded, the story meanders on and on, giving the writers more of an excuse to unleash even a few more painfully unfunny wisecracks. Likewise, the characters treat each other like illegitimate relatives at family reunions, not to any purpose of establishing their characteristics, but just to serve as a hammer that will force Charlie to crack. Like an elevator unable to support all the excess baggage on its back, “Me, Myself & Irene” has faults that pile so ceaselessly that it eventually collapses.

And Carrey? Oh, if only such energy were applied towards a more worthwhile production! There is a scene in the movie where Charlie makes his first transition to the alter-ego Hank, and the talented actor’s facial expression and physical posture go through changes so swiftly that our minds are stupefied. This isn’t the first time we have ever seen his bright energy disposed of in a movie with numerous inconveniences, but hopefully, with his career finally taking shape, this will be the last.

Written by DAVID KEYES

Comedy (US); 2000; Rated R; 116 Minutes

Jim Carrey: Charlie Baileygates/Hank
Renée Zellweger: Irene P. Waters
Anthony Anderson: Jamaal
Mongo Brownlee: Lee Harvey
Jerod Mixon: Shonte Jr.
Chris Cooper: Lieutenant Gerke
Michael Bowman: Whitey/Casper
Richard Jenkins: Agent Boshane
Robert Forster: Colonel Partington

Produced by Mark Charpentier, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Linda Fields-Hill, Marc S. Fischer, Kristofer W. Meyer, James B. Rogers, Tom Schulman, Bradley Thomas and Charles B. Wessler; Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly; Screenwritten by Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly and Mike Cerrone

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