Jim Carrey rips up the screen in a hilarious bout
of extraordinary physical and verbal comedy
|"Me, Myself & Irene"
Reviewed by John Orr
(Click on the images to see larger version and credits.)
In "Me, Myself & Irene," Jim Carrey has broken and surpassed the previous record for physical performance by a comic portraying two people in one body.
The earlier record, of course, was set in 1984 by Steve Martin in "All of Me, wherein he was both lawyer Roger Cobb and the late Edwina Cutwater (voiced by Lily Tomlin). The scene in which Edwina's soul first falls into Roger's body, and they each fight for control, remains one of the funniest and most amazing bits of physical comedy ever recorded on film.
But, Carrey carries the concept even further in "Me, Myself & Irene," with the help of those two nuts, the Farrelly brothers (Bobby and Peter), who directed, and Mike Cerrone, who co-wrote the script with the brothers.
Carrey plays Charlie Baileygates, a mild-mannered Rhode Island state highway patrolman who is more of a nice guy than most of us would ever want to meet.
Bringing his lovely bride home from the wedding, he is set upon by the rabid chauffeur (Tony Cox), a black midget who is president of his local Mensa group, and who drives the limo for research purposes. Charlie's new wife, Layla (played by Traylor Howard), who is president of her local chapter of Mensa, smooths things over and we can practically see a spark fly between her and the obnoxious driver.
But when she gives birth to black triplets, Charlie is oblivious. "They are just a little dark-skinned," he tells his skeptical cop friends.
And even when his wife wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the face of the black chauffeur deserts him and the triplets, he continues to believe the boys are his, and lovingly raises them as such.
The boys love him, and he is liked on his job. But his neighbor's wife is always stealing his newspaper, to read on the can, and the neighbor's dog is always dumping on his lawn. People in his little town including little girls jumping rope push him around and abuse his gentle nature on a regular basis.
Until, finally, he snaps, and Hank the personification of all his pent-up rage he had denied himself emerges, and Carrey is off to the races.
At first the two personalities trade control with Charlie falling in love with Irene Waters, a landscaping expert in trouble with the law played by Renee Zellwegger, and Hank merely lusting for her. The three are on the run from the law and from nasty crooks, so this also becomes a road picture and a mystery.
But eventually the two personalities are present at the same time, and fight viciously for control of the one body. That is when Carrey breaks Martin's old record and then just keeps setting the bar higher and higher it's like watching Steve Young play football. It just gets better and better.
Most of y'all have probably seen the trailer in the theaters or the commercial on TV showing Carrey fighting himself while driving the convertible, eventually throwing himself out of the car.
That is the merest scintilla of what he does in the movie, which includes a scene wherein he knocks himself out, then carries his own body to the car and throws it in, and many other bits of great slapstick.
My favorite bit which kept me laughing for days afterward involves how he spits in his own face during a fight. (I am giving away very little by telling you that the cleverness of how it's done is a big part of the laugh.)
Zellwegger is wonderful in the role, somehow making believable that she could fall in love with this certified nut case, and still fight with him herself. You've probably seen the trailer clip wherein she kicks him in the face, knocking him over a fence and down the hill but what follows that scene is even funnier.
And that hilarity owes a great deal to script and direction, which at times, are brilliant. This film is, at times, a masterpiece of comic timing. The gags and jokes build in layers and then are capped by some amazing and surprising ending bit. Such as when Hank spots a big-breasted blond nursing her baby in public. What he does is funny, but what we see afterward is even funnier.
So, why only three and half stars?
Because the film is not consistently excellent. There are flat spots, and jokes that are tasteless and questionable without really being funny or sufficiently telling to justify themselves.
And, there is a voice-over narration by a non-character, which is pretty near unforgiveable. It's like being in a Disney nature movie. It puts an extra layer of artifice between audience and actors, and the Farrellys should take turns beating each other up for having done it.
Still, it's a blast-and-a-half and recommended, for people who aren't offended by jokes about love, sex, race, urination, defecation, masturbation, psychosis and just about everything else.
Theater or Video?