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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

There's Something About Mary [Blu-ray]

 

(Bobby Farrelly + Peter Farrelly, 1998)

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Video: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: ALL (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:10:41  / 1:59:40

Disc Size: 45,174,972,734 bytes

Feature Size: 30,535,759,872 bytes / 28,038,107,136 bytes

Average Bitrate: 31.15 Mbps

Chapters: 30

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 12th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4060 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4060 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Portuguese 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Thai 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, none

 

Extras

• Theatrical & Extended Cuts (seamless branching)

• Directors'  Commentary with Peter & Bobby Farrelly

• Directors'  Scene-Specific Bonus Commentary with Peter & Bobby Farrelly

• Writers'  Commentary with Ed Decter & John J. Strauss

• Clay Animated Titles w/ Commentary

• AMC Bacsktory – in SD (20:50)

• Getting Behind Mary – in SD (43:44)

• Comedy Central: Reel Comedy – in SD (21:31)

• Up a Tree with Jonathan Richman & Tommy Larkins – in SD (11:37)

• Franks & Beans with W. Earl Brown – in SD (5:32)

• Exposing Themselves: Cameron, Matt. Ben & Chris – in SD (14:26)

• Touchdown with Brett Favre – in SD (5:37)

• Interview Roulette with Harland Williams – in SD (6:51)

• Puffy, Boobs & Balls – in SD (10:51)

• Behind the Zipper – in SD (4:36)

• Music Video: Every Day Should Be a Holiday with Dandy Warhols – in SD (4:13)

• Music Video Karaoke: Build Me a Buttercup – in SD (3:03)

• Around the World with Mary

 

Description: There's something about Mary that still bewitches Ted. Although he hasn't seen her in over a dozen years, since that shameful prom night, his heart still flutters at the recollection of her. He's still crazy about her after all these years, and curious as to her whereabouts. At the insistence of his good friend Dom, he hires private eye Pat Healy to track her down in Miami.

 

2 version - with two different title sequences

 

 

Comment:

The Farrelly Brothers have made a comfortable living for themselves catering to the depraved imp in all of us.  Call it “edgy” or “sick” or simply “offensive” these boys have found a way to make the unacceptable acceptable.  For a time they were the dukes of political incorrectness, if not the rulers of the domain. The Farrellys broke into the big time as writers/directors in 1994 with the totally inane Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as the legendary dimwits of the title, and followed their success two years later (as co-directors) with the grossly impaired Kingpin with Woody Harrelson and Randy Quaid. 

 

And then came There’s Something About Mary and the discovery of a modicum of respect for their characters – and with that discovery, creatively applied, came the appreciation of critics (an RT score of 82 vs 62 for Dumb and 54 for Kingpin).  Box office also bore out critical opinion: Mary made a reported $161 in 3 months over an (IMDB) estimated budget of $23M.  Dumb and Dumber, by the way, scored similar numbers ($127m over $23M) while Kingpin made back its investment.

 

We first meet the title character (Cameron Diaz) in a flashback told by the man who has been pining for her since the night of his high school prom when he got his testicles caught in his zipper.  It’s the sort of event that would stick in anyone’s mind forever, but for Ted (Ben Stiller) it was just one highlight in an otherwise pretty dim career – in respect to women anyhow.  It's now a dozen years later and Ted is convinced by his best friend, Dom (Chris Elliott), to hire a private detective, the deliciously slimy Healy (Matt Dillon), to check out Mary's current status in faraway Miami.  We are not surprised when Healy decides to set things up for himself as the suitor and try to put Ted off the track.

 

 

 

And, for the one or two people out there who don’t get out much, what, you may ask, is that “something” about Mary that is so “something.”  Well, besides her obvious charms and positive and upbeat attitude, there is Warren, her retarded adult brother (W. Earl Brown).  Warren is a potential mine field for the Farrellys, who proved what unflinchingly unsympathetic writers they could be regards the merely stupid.  The catch is that Mary is not only protective of her brother, she nurtures him and an entire community of like-minded adults.  If this weren't enough, Mary is now an orthopedic surgeon, still single and maybe even lovelier than when Ted last saw her.

 

You can imagine that a woman so dedicated would be a bit of a challenge for a slime like Healy.  But he works at it and works at it.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, goaded on by Dom, Ted steals himself down to Miami where he and Healy vie for Mary's affections. But Healy's not the only snake in the grass.  There's Tucker (Lee Evans), an architect friend of Mary's who indulges in some heavy slander of the innocent.  But most of all, there's "Puffy" the dog, a scene-stealer if ever there was, and a character tailor made to get us off the scent.

 

It's not so much the plot but the individual set pieces that will either hook you or have you reaching for the eject button on your remote.  There is enough offensive highjinx here to keep those of us who are in for the duration glued to our sets.

 

The Movie: 7

 

Image: 7/8  NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.  The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

While punchier and sharper than the DVD, the Blu-ray image looks flat, dull and fuzzy with pale, pinkish skin tones. Perhaps it was never all that highly resolved to start with – and many comedies of the period aren't, but don't get your hopes up here.  While free of blemishes, I found some minor edge enhancement, but no digital artifacts.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 6/7

Mostly front-directed, but opens up dynamically and into the surrounds somewhat when the music appears, usually at the beginning of scene transitions.  There is a nice sense of ambiance in the large open space of the architecture exhibit, and another indoor scene at a racetrack encourages the surrounds to do as they're paid to.  Dialogue in general is oddly recorded, resulting in a sense of disconnect from what we see on screen.  The title song is ingratiating and insipid as hell, and can really get under the skin, but since that's the point, it's clever all the same.  I have to note that the lip sync is off, and I'm guessing that isn't supposed to be part of the gag. 

 

Operations: 6

As I mentioned elsewhere the repetition of the opening song for every click of the extra features menu ruins a good song. 

 

Extras: 9

First, a travel advisory here: There are a boatload of extra features, something I suspect the audio designers of the menu neglected to factor in since every one of them is heralded by the opening bars of the title song.  And I gotta tell you that one more repetition of "His friends will say 'Stop whinin'" and I am likely to scream.  Now onto the rest of the program:

 

 

 

There are two audio commentaries: one of them is by the original writers, so it's of some interest to hear about what's theirs and what's the Farrellys.  The directors' commentary does cover some new ground as versus the many bonus features. Getting Behind Mary is another behind-the-scenes segment with lots of interviews with cast and crew that's a little too long for its own good.  The AMC Backstory devotes itself to the origins of the movie, with footage from the finished film and interviews with the filmmakers.  Pretty good, this one.

 

In the Comedy Central bit, Harland Williams  interviews Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, and Chris Elliott in advance of the film's release.  Up a Tree with Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkin is a low-key, but droll take on the songwriters.  In Franks and Beans, W. Earl Brown talks about his character, Warren, and how he portrays him.  In another segment, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz and Chris Elliott Expose Themselves but not too much. Around the World with Mary allows us to watch the finale in your choice of eight languages.

 

Lin Shaye plays Mary's neighbor, Magda, who, if she were any more tanned, could pass for a mummy.  In Puffy, Boobs and Balls Shaye and the chief make-up designer talk about make-up and prosthetics.  Magda and Puffy take us around to the other side of the camera for another peek at the bathroom scene in Behind the Zipper.

 

The two music videos are unusual in that they are of excellent image quality.  This, as we all know, violates the tradition of reproducing such short films in the most execrable light possible.  Every Day Should Be a Holiday is a Dandy Warhols production that could have benefited from better audio.  Build Me Up Buttercup Karaoke is played to outtakes from the movie.  Is that Puffy acting as guide dog for the event?

 

 

Recommendation: 7

Despite its extensive extra features, the relatively weak image transfer and so-so audio keep this popular movie from an unqualified thumbs up.

 

Leonard Norwitz
May 24th, 2009

 


 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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