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With: Jim Carrey, Renee Zellweger, Chris Cooper, Robert Forster, Anthony Anderson, Tony Cox, Mongo Brownlee, Jerod Mixon, Michael Bowman, Richard Jenkins, Rob Moran, Kate Forster
Written by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, crude humor, strong language and some violence
Running Time: 116
Date: 06/15/2000

Me, Myself & Irene (2000)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Banana Split

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's hard not to be a little disappointed by Me, Myself & Irene. It doesn't exactly represent the finest work from either the writer/director team of Bobby and Peter Farrelly, or actor Jim Carrey. Even so, Me, Myself & Irene is absolutely hilarious, and I was in gales of giggles long after I left the theater.

In this film Carrey plays Charlie Baileygates, a kindly passive fellow who develops a Split Personality Syndrome after his wife leaves him. Enter the other personality, Hank, a mean Dirty Harry-type with a sinister whisper. Charlie/Hank is chosen to escort traffic violator Renee Zellweger upstate but the pair ends up on the run from gangsters. Believe it or not, the movie actually deals "seriously" with Charlie's disorder. Little stretches of several minutes at a time show Zellweger trying to help him without any jokes at all. (As we all know, true love cures ills that even trained psychiatrists can't handle.)

I was wondering if I should explain why and how I thought the movie was funny, but I'll refrain. The trailer already gives enough stuff away as it is. I can tell you, though, about the jokes that are introduced and go nowhere. For example, Zellweger's character's name is Irene P. Waters, or I.P. Waters. It's a name that Bart Simpson would use to call Moe at the bar, but the movie never uses the joke for anything. At another point, the camera lingers on a strange couple, a beautiful voluptuous blonde and a short, fat, sunburned redneck who winks at us, and we never see them again. There must have been something more to that shot. I suspect that the Farrellys really had to work to get their film down to the 110 minute mark, where it is now, and a lot of jokes went out the back door. I'm sure we'll see these scenes on DVD by next year.

The Farrellys last crafted the critical and audience hit There's Something About Mary in 1998, a movie that somehow struck a balance between sweetness and vulgarity with a cheerful glee. Like Me, Myself & Irene, Mary ran close to two hours. Woody Allen and many others in Hollywood insist that comedies should be closer to the 90 minute mark. But the Farrellys sustain the length of their movies. There's Something About Mary was polished and never lost its tone, and it had the help of singer Jonathan Richman as a sort of traveling minstrel to fill in the blanks. However, Me, Myself & Irene is not so polished. It drifts in and out of different moods, and those jokes that were left on the cutting room floor leave little gaps.

The Farrellys (and their co-writer Mike Cerrone) are still fascinated with deformities, disorders, and general weirdness, and haven't run out of material here. They have Carrey breaking his nose in a comical way and follow that up for the last half of the movie with a great big white chin bandage. His wardrobe consists of horribly mismatched crotch-bustingly tight leisure clothes. A black dwarf (Tony Cox) and an albino (Michael Bowman) both have pivotal roles. The Farrellys even seem to be sniggering at the Rhode Island police force's old-fashioned uniforms. On the plus side, the Farrellys provide father Charlie with triplets -- three huge black teenagers (Mongo Brownlee, Jerod Mixon, and Daniel Greene) with genius I.Q.s who fight over quantum physics problems but still speak in street slang (presumably because they were allowed to watch Richard Pryor on cable as kids).

Carrey is astonishing, as usual. He flits back and forth between Charlie and Hank with ease. By this time, we know that he can do this role in his sleep. Let's face it, he raised the bar for himself with his roles in The Cable Guy (1996), The Truman Show (1998), and Man on the Moon (1999), even if the Academy didn't agree. Rumors of Carrey going over the edge while playing Andy Kaufman in the latter may explain why he needed a simple movie like Me, Myself & Irene to unwind.

Credit should be given to Zellweger as well. She shares nearly all her scenes with Carrey and doesn't get gobbled up by him. She's a lovely comic foil, a straight man that can take any number of hits. Plus she has charm to spare and she's awfully easy on the eyes. She doesn't get a role here as juicy as Cameron Diaz' in Mary, but she shows she has the stuff just the same.

Me, Myself & Irene shows that this summer's movies are getting better bit by bit. This is one of the few that I wouldn't feel gypped paying eight bucks to see. Like There's Something About Mary, it will clearly perform better in a crowded theater, so put it at the top of your list. So what if the Jim Carrey doesn't give an Oscar-worthy performance and the Farrellys have made better movies? The gut laughs I experienced were worth their weight in gold.

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