With Me, Myself and Irene, Jim Carrey returns to physical comedy and reunites with the Farrelly Brothers, the folks responsible for Carrey’s 1994 hit Dumb and Dumber and 1998’s smash hit comedy, There’s Something About Mary. On paper this looked to be one of the summer’s bright points as I like Jim Carrey and I loved both There’s Something About Mary and 1996’s Kingpin. In the end however, the old sports cliché comes into play and I’m reminded that "they don’t play the games on paper."
In other words, this film is something of a disappointment.
It’s not a bad film. The main characters are likable enough and there are some very funny moments, there just aren’t enough of them to keep pace with the film’s 115 minute running time. And, with a film like this, if the laughs don’t keep pace, there isn’t much else to hang your hat on.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that the "money" character just isn’t that funny. Unlike the previous Farrelly entries where some of the biggest laughs were saved for the supporting cast and the supporting players were relied on more heavily, this film seems to bet the farm (well, most of it) on Carrey’s ability to shoulder the load. The good thing is, he does, the bad is that he does so only partially. As "Charlie", he’s funny and fills the sweet, likable slot the Farrelly’s apparently have an undying need to fill. As "Hank", however, the piss-poor Dirty Harry imitation that passes for the "bad" part of the split personality, he’s pretty much a two joke pony and the two jokes fall flat after the first or second go-around. Want an example? Four, maybe five times in the film, Hank starts a fight with someone, dances around like a buffoon and then gets his ass kicked. The first time, it’s pretty funny. The second it drops down a notch and the third… let’s just say I was opening the flip on my cell phone regularly throughout the second half of the film to check the time.
Aside from that hole at the heart of the film, there are things to like about this one. Renée Zellweger, for one, raises herself up a few notches in my eyes with her performance. She’s cute, charming and has pretty good comic timing. The supporting players, when they’re used, also bring some positives to the table. The trio of Anthony Anderson (who was also a highlight for me in Jet Li’s Romeo Must Die), Mongo Brownlee and Jerod Mixon, especially raise the bar as Charlie’s genius African-American triplet sons (don’t ask…). Their mix of street patter and braniac banter was, at times, hilarious and certainly served to brighten the mood after spending a few minutes with "Hank". Also on the positive side of the ledger was local (as in Arlington) teacher, Michael Bowman who plays "Whitey", an albino waiter that joins Zellwegger and Carrey on their journey. Bowman was taking acting classes on the side when he answered an ad on a web site devoted to the congenital syndrome. I for one, am glad he did as he’s quite funny and managed to hold his own throughout the film.
To be honest had the Farrelly brothers used more of these successful supporting players and found something useful for other talented folks like Chris Cooper to do, my reaction to this film might have been quite different. As it stands however, they relied on Hank to steal the show and that just didn’t happen.
This article was originally published in Boston's Weekly Dig (now digBoston) in July 2000.