Friday, June 23, 2000

Funny, but too much like another 'Me'

Movie: Me, Myself & Irene

Posted on Fri, Jun 23, 2000 at 4:00 AM

***
Our Rating: 3.00

Two personalities are locked up inside the body of the Rhode Island cop misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic and played by Jim Carrey in "Me, Myself & Irene," the intermittently hilarious comedy from There's Something About Mary creators Peter and Bobby Farrelly. There's bound to be a moment when friendly, respectable, shy pushover Charlie and rude, insensitive, randy Hank battle over rights to their flesh-and-blood host. The scene, built on Carrey's exuberant slapstick and freaky facial contortions, finally does arrive.

Trouble is, the sequence is overly reminiscent of 1984's "All of Me," about a lawyer accidentally invaded by the spirit of his late client (Lily Tomlin). Steve Martin relied on fine-tuned physical grace and panache; Carrey goes for his usual over-the-top intensity, to lesser effect.

The same might be said about much of "Me, Myself & Irene," the filmmakers' hotly anticipated reunion with the co-star of their 1994 gross-out hit "Dumb and Dumber": The Farrellys fire round after round of tasteless jokes, touching on everything from rough sex to public defecation to animal cruelty, only to overshoot their targets about half of the time.

Still, there's plenty to like about Irene, which offers serious comic relief. It's hard to argue with, or erase the memory of, a content Charlie/Hank, taking in the lush upstate New York scenery from the vantage point of his motorcycle, his teeth and sunglasses pasted with splattered insects.

The Farrellys' latest is related as a sort of fractured fairy tale, with a narrator introducing the story with a tone of distinct bemusement. "Meet Charlie," we're told by Rex Allen Jr., minutes before the narrative jumps back 18 years, to the halcyon days of the junior officer's romance with his soulmate. One marriage, one divorce and an ocean of politically incorrect race and body-shape jokes later, Charlie finds himself alone, left to raise three African-American sons. He's in denial about the identity of his kids' biological father and willing to suffer all sorts of mockery. Until, one day, he cracks and evil-twin Hank emerges to right a series of perceived wrongs.

The bipartite man soon enough stumbles into a romance with Irene (Reneé Zellweger), a golf-course supervisor on the lam from her murderous former employers. She charms both Charlie and Hank, and the two team up to secure her safety. Stick around for the silly post-credits clip about a missing digit that's yet another sight gag that might make you want to, uh, gag.

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