Picks and Pans Review: Me, Myself & Irene
With Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary and now Me, Myself & Irene, writer-director brothers Peter and Bobby Farrelly have established themselves as the most original comic minds in Hollywood today. Like its predecessors, this heavily plotted farce about a Rhode Island state trooper with two personalities goes over the top in its violent crudeness. Yet if the sight gags shock—and they do, considering they involve breast-feeding, urination and a dying cow (though not, amazingly, all at once)—they don't offend. Somehow a sunny, middle-American decency shines through. It's as if Frank Capra served as the guiding light for South Park.
As the Me and Myself of the title, Carrey starts out as Charlie, a perpetual chump who can't stand confrontation on the beat or at home. Carrey does this character mostly by baring his large, even teeth in a smile of fatuous embarrassment. Cracking under the strain, Charlie slips into a second personality named Hank, a lying, bullying, horny creep. Hank speaks in a dead-calm whisper that sounds like a computer-synthesized Clint Eastwood.
Charlie, with Hank along for the ride, is sent to Upstate New York to turn in Irene (Zellweger), a hit-and-run suspect whom the police have picked up in Providence. But Irene is really being set up by gangsters, among them an ex-boyfriend, who operate out of a golf course. (Yes, it's murky.) Carrey's personalities battle for dominance while trying to save Irene from these thugs. Along the way they befriend an albino who may have butchered his family.
Me, Myself & Irene doesn't come together as satisfyingly as Dumb or Mary: The wispy Zellweger, who tends to give off the sulky air of a little girl who doesn't like her babysitter, isn't a good match for Carrey's harsh, frantic edginess. And the escalating conflict between Charlie and Hank, with the nice guy resurfacing with the scared look of a hostage in a ransom-note video, has a weird, ugly believability—Cop, Interrupted. But the Farrellys (who cowrote the screenplay with Mike Cerrone) are willing to let things get messy. In this case, I say, mess is more.
Bottom Line: The good, the bad and the funny