There’s Something About Semen

There’s Something About Mary

There’s a good movie in the seed of There’s Something About Mary, but the brothers Farrelly weren’t interested in making it. Co-directors and co-writers Peter and Bobby start with an interesting premise — that being a beautiful woman carries with it the burden of a dozen or so stalkers — and use it simply as a vehicle for a handful of sex-related sight gags spread very thinly over nearly two hours.

The methodology: The pair behind Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin think of some visual joke, then clumsily build the tedious 10-minute scene leading up to it.

The most famous example, of course, is the semen-as-hair-product bit. But there are so many problems in the gag’s groundwork that it doesn’t deliver a money shot. A few of its flaws:

  • A man masturbating standing up is more likely to work horizontally than up-and-down.
  • Even if he did stroke vertically, no man standing up — with the possible exception of some mutant porn star — can hit his ear. It simply defies physics.
  • If one did goo one’s earlobe, one would certainly feel it.
  • Even a man who didn’t feel it would wonder where that load went and eventually discover and wipe off the offending glob.
  • And assuming there exists a person who doesn’t clean up after himself, can an audience really be expected to swallow cum that viscous?

Obviously, I’m over-thinking a movie that’s not intended to be taken seriously. And, to be fair, when I saw the movie, the rest of the audience loved it. At least they hooted and hollered at the big gags, with lots of dead silence in between.

Still, I suspect that they were laughing at the balls of the two brothers instead of the actual jokes. Having a character get his dick caught in his zipper is one thing; showing said member (or at least its rubber equivalent) is quite another.

Certain audiences obviously want humor that dares to offend prudes, and Pete and Bob have built quite a reputation providing it. I applaud the Farrellys for pushing the envelope and only wish they’d push it harder, more often, and more smartly. Airplane! and its ilk are stupid and less daring in their explicitness than There’s Something About Mary, but at least the jokes never stopped. Beavis and Butt-Head never got much worse than “wiener” and “bunghole,” but the humor was more character-based, more mocking, and funnier than anything in this movie. South Park is closer to the tone of Mary, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone are frequently witheringly smart and have a much better sense of rhythm.

The Farrellys know what they can get laughs out of, so they don’t even bother with trying to do anything with more wit. The most comically inventive moment in Mary comes when the Farrellys refrain from an obvious joke; there’s a pile of shit on the floor, and nobody steps in it. Tee hee.

Oh, I’ve barely mentioned the plot. Cameron Diaz is Mary, who wears some very sheer undergarments and otherwise enjoys being braless in cold climates. She’s never properly nude, but her breasts (the only “taboo” body parts in the movie that look even remotely real, by the way) are constantly on display. Lots of guys, including Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon, lust after her and do bad stuff to get close to her.

The story isn’t important, though. It’s simply the frame on which to hang some very limp humor.

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