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'Irene': Gross Encounters

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 23, 2000


    'Me, Myself & Irene' Jim Carrey gives a funny but familiar performance in "Me, Myself & Irene." (20th Century Fox)
I've been throwing up all morning (yes, really), and I think I know why: last night's screening of "Me, Myself & Irene."

It seems as if filmmakers are determined to out-gross each other by grossing us out. And now twisted brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly try to one-up even their own "There's Something About Mary" with this toxic swill.

Of course, it's not easy to outdo the classic disgusting moments in "Mary." But however foul the humor got there, the gag took moviegoers by surprise and involved a character who had won over their hearts.

In this case, the brothers and star Jim Carrey are intent upon creating ill will. Few minorities escape their shock-jock-style abuse: lesbians, albinos, blacks, midgets, the mentally ill, etc. Not the least of these is the movie's delightful heroine, Irene (irresistible Renee Zellweger).

Irene, a golf course manager on the run from her mob boyfriend, is speeding through Rhode Island, where she is pulled over by the police for stealing the car she's driving. Though she tries to explain that it's just a ploy by the boyfriend, who's trying to get her to come back to him in Upstate New York, they send her back to the Empire State in the custody of Charlie (Carrey), a motorcycle cop recently diagnosed with multiple-personality disorder.

After repressing years of indignity, the milquetoast Charlie has boiled over in anger, and alter ego Hank has burst upon the scene. Hank immediately gets to work avenging the wrongs done to Charlie. First he gets even with the brute whose dog regularly dumps on Charlie's lawn. How, you ask? He squats down on Dog-Boy's lawn and starts grunting. . . . Then the camera cuts away for a close-up of chocolate yogurt oozing into a cup. In fact, virtually all of Hank's antics are rectal in nature, including a romantic moment with an enormous plastic phallus.

When Charlie hands Irene over to the police in New York, she manages to escape her ex, the cops in his pocket, sundry goons and a pair of G-men from, yes, the EPA. (Don't ask--the whole point is to get Irene, Hank and Charlie back on the road.) A love triangle ensues and the pace slows to crawl.

Basically, what we've got here is "The Nutty Professor" without the potion, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" without the insight. But Carrey carries off the role with his usual gymnastic ease. He slips from Charlie to Hank without so much as a blink, convincingly battling his own body for control of . . . well, his own body. He's so limber, slick and silly that it's only a matter of time before the French award him a medal of honor.

Zellweger is among the saving graces here, along with the three young African Americans, Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee and Jerod Mixon, who play Charlie's sons and are the heart and soul of the movie. They're nicely drawn, appealing geniuses who discuss quantum physics in street dialect.

The movie's sweetest convention is the love between these three enormous dudes and their father. Mom had a tryst with a black midget chauffeur and later left Pa with the kids, if you must know. But it never occurs to father or sons that they're not blood, which adds real poignancy to their devotion. Unfortunately, the three do attempt to stick a chicken up a crooked police officer's butt. But for a good reason: He was endangering their dad.

If you choose to see this puerile tripe, check your dignity at the door. But don't expect to find it there when you leave. And now I've really gotta go. Really.

ME, MYSELF AND IRENE(117 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for language, sex, nudity, you name it.


© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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