Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Me, Myself & Irene: Special Edition (2000)
Studio Line: 20th Century Fox - From gentle to mental

Jim Carrey delivers an outrageous performance in this “fall-down, flat-out irresistible deranged movie” (Rolling Stone). When Rhode Island policeman Charlie Baileygates develops a split personality disorder, he goes from gentle to mental! But soon, Charlie falls crazy in love with the beautiful Irene (Renee Zellweger) and must battle for her affections with Hank, his foul-mouthed, oversexed alter ego.

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Cast: Jim Carrey, Renee Zellweger, Chris Cooper, Robert Forster, Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee, Jerod Mixon, Michael Bowman, Richard Jenkins, Rob Moran
Box Office: Budget: $51 million. Opening Weekend: $24.209 million (3019 screens). Gross: $90.567 million.
DVD: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9; audio English Dolby Digital 5.1 & Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround; THX; subtitles English, Spanish; closed-captioned; single sided - dual layered; 20 chapters; rated R; 116 min.; $29.98; street date 1/23/01.
Supplements: Audio Commentary from Writer/Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly; Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary; Production Vignettes; Foo Fighters “Breakout” Music Video; Outtakes; Featurette; Stills Gallery; Two Trailers; Three TV Spots; THX Optimode; DVD-ROM Materials.
Purchase: DVD | Music soundtrack - Various Artists

Picture/Sound/Extras: B-/B/A-

Even a narrow-minded schlub like myself occasionally has to admit errors, and such was the case in regard to my early assessments of the talents of Jim Carrey. I never cared for his work on In Living Color, and his initial success in movies with 1994’s Ace Ventura, Pet Detective did nothing to alter my opinion. Granted, I liked his follow-up - 1994’s The Mask - but any positive sentiment evaporated with that year’s follow-up follow-up, Dumb and Dumber.

Nonetheless, I slowly became to find his performances more and more enjoyable. I liked his turn as the Riddler in 1995’s otherwise-drab Batman Forever and generally started to think of him as someone about whom I felt positively. Carrey will never be one of my favorites, but at least I think well of him.

Even a narrow-minded schlub like myself occasionally has to stick by his guns, and such remains the case in regard to my early assessments of the talents of Bobby and Peter, the Farrelly brothers. Coincidentally enough, I first encountered their work through Carrey’s hit Dumb and Dumber. As I already related, this film did little for me. I thought it was almost wholly gross and unfunny.

However, I didn’t really draw any conclusions about the Farrellys from that experience. After all, I’d never heard of them prior to D&D, so I didn’t know if that film would be typical for them or not.

Kingpin, their 1996 follow-up, looked funny but it received pretty terrible reviews, so I passed on it. I would later check out that film, but not until after I’d seen the Farrellys’ biggest hit, 1998’s There’s Something About Mary. In contrast with Kingpin, Mary garnered almost universally strong notices. Despite some misgivings - Mary appeared to be lame from the trailers - I figured the critics must know what they’re talking about so I gave it a look.

The results weren’t pretty. Mary contained a funny bit or two, but as with D&D, I genuinely disliked the highly-scatological tone of the piece. Grossness isn’t humor, and anything that makes someone laugh just because it’s disgusting or shocking seems weak to me.

As evidenced by the fact I reviewed it, I did finally check out Kingpin a while back and it did nothing to already my growing disdain for the work of the Farrellys. It was more of the same; only some decent work from Bill Murray kept it from being a total disaster.

The only Farrelly work I haven’t loathed was 1999’s coming of age comedy Outside Providence. While that film wasn’t anything special, it seemed generally sweet and entertaining. However, it wasn’t directed by the brothers; they adapted a semi-autobiographical novel by Peter and someone else helmed the movie.

I guess that made all the difference, as the newest Farrelly-directed flick, 2000’s Me, Myself and Irene offers more of the same crap - literally. It just wouldn’t be a Farrelly movie without scads of gags about bodily functions and their products. These guys are the Will Rogers of scatological humor: they never met a poop joke they didn’t like.

If you’ve seen any of the other three Farrelly-directed movies, you’ve seen MMI. It offers virtually nothing new, although it wraps the package in different paper. Here we find excessively nice Charlie (Carrey), a good-natured sap who gets taken advantage of all the time. Eventually he snaps from the abuse and develops a second personality named Hank; he’s a nasty, take-charge sort who talks like Clint Eastwood.

Eventually Charlie/Hank meet Irene (Renee Zellweger), a woman being wrapped up in some illegal activities because of an ex-boyfriend. Frankly, the details of those dealings are completely irrelevant; only the set-up matters, because it sends Charlie/Hank and Irene on the lam. As they run, they inevitably fall in love, and Charlie/Hank learns how to balance both sides of his personality. Yawn.

The basic story is tired, but MMI tries to spice things up via its execution. Some of those parts work, but not many. Carrey offers a solid performance as Charlie/Hank. Love him or hate him, one must recognize the incredible physical talents Carrey displays, and to see his transformations into Hank is a thing of wonder.

Unfortunately, Carrey’s given precious little solid material with which to work, and that’s why MMI falls flat. One running piece of wackiness concerns his sons. It seems that Charlie’s wife cheated on him very early in the marriage; she left him before long and stuck him with three sons. The wacky thing? They’re all black! Charlie’s not! But he doesn’t seem to notice!

Actually, that’s only part of the nuttiness. The sons are all geniuses, and the film thinks it’s hilarious to have them discuss sophisticated intellectual matters while continuing to use street vernacular. Essentially this means that they curse a lot. This joke wasn’t funny as a one-time thing, but it gets really old really fast. Even the audience with whom I saw MMI theatrically seemed to agree; they chortled at almost everything else in the film, but the brothers’ antics got nary a giggle.

After four Farrelly-directed films that I’ve disliked, one would expect I’d give up and not bother with any more of their work. However, perhaps out of sheer perversity, I’ll continue to watch their movies. Someday they have to produce something amusing, and I want to be there to see it. Unfortunately, Me, Myself and Irene isn’t that film. It possesses some moments of humor due to the usually-solid presence of Jim Carrey, but most of the movie is a dud.

The DVD:

Me, Myself and Irene appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the movie presented a generally positive picture, I thought it seemed slightly weak for such a recent film.

Sharpness appeared somewhat erratic. Interior shots displayed the most significant problems in this regard, as they often looked a bit fuzzy and soft. However, even bright daylight scenes occasionally seemed hazier than they should. For the most part, the image was adequately crisp and detailed, but I found an excessive number of shots that looked mildly soft. Moiré effects cropped up from time to time, mainly due to blinds plus the sides and roofs of houses, and the artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV appeared moderate.

Print flaws seemed minor but were also excessive for such a recent movie. I detected some light grain plus occasional bits of grit and a few speckles. Again, these weren’t heavy at any time, but a film of this vintage really shouldn’t display any of these sorts of defects.

Colors largely appeared natural and pleasing. However, skin tones often came across as slightly pink and weren’t as accurate as they should have been. Otherwise, the film’s natural palette appeared acceptably vivid and accurate. Black levels seemed fairly deep and dark, but shadow detail was somewhat erratic. Low-light situations were a little too murky and hazy for my liking, though I can’t say that I had a terrible time making out events in those scenes. Ultimately, Me, Myself and Irene presented a consistently watchable picture but it seemed somewhat weak for a movie from 2000.

The film’s Dolby Digital soundtrack appeared more consistent but also was less than spectacular. In regard to the soundfield, the imaging seemed mainly oriented toward the front spectrum. Music dominated the track and the many different songs indeed offered nice stereo separation plus involving spread to the rear channels. Other aspects of the audio appeared decently broad but were less involving. Some dialogue came from the side speakers, and effects also showed quality movement on occasion. Rear usage for effects was pretty minor but was appropriate for a comedy; some split-surround activity appeared and worked nicely within the limited realm offered.

Audio quality seemed generally strong. Dialogue sometimes appeared a bit rough and edgy, but for the most part speech was natural and distinct with no problems related to intelligibility. Effects were clean and realistic - actually, they were often hyper-realistic to stay within the film’s comedy - and showed no signs of distortion. Music was nicely clear and bright and displayed positive dynamic range. Bass response seemed quite good throughout the movie and was always nice and taut. Ultimately, the soundtrack appeared perfectly adequate for the film in question.

Me, Myself and Irene is touted as a special edition, and since it’s from Fox, you can be assured the disc packs some solid extras. First up is one of the most unusual bonus features I’ve seen. I rarely comment on DVD menus, but MMI deserves special mention for doing something different. Let the opening menu run for a while and you’ll be asked a question about your mental state. Answer a certain way and - bink! - the menu changes. We go from the “Charlie” menu to the “Hank” version which offers a different presentation. There’s nothing else different about this area, but I thought this was a fun little alteration nonetheless.

For the advertised extras, the first one we go to is a running audio commentary from Peter and Bobby Farrelly. I believe this is their third track together after they provided discussions for both Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary. I never listened to the latter but heard it was a bad commentary. I did screen the track for Kingpin and thought it was one of the worst commentaries I’ve ever witnessed. The vast majority of their discussion simply told us who all of the bit actors were and it seemed insanely dull.

The Farrellys show some of the same tendency during the track for MMI, but they’re not nearly as perseverative on the topic. While we indeed here the names of their buddies and relatives who appear in the film, they manage to make that aspect of the track a minor one. Instead, they spend a lot more time discussing anecdotes from the set, material that was altered for the movie or that didn’t make the final cut, and other aspects of the production. It’s still not a great commentary but it’s much better over the dismal track on Kingpin; the Farrellys maintain a light and amiable tone that makes the commentary fairly entertaining and engaging.

Next we find some deleted scenes. There are 10 different snippets that run from 25 seconds to three minutes and 45 seconds for a total of 17 minutes and 15 seconds of footage. However, I need to note that the majority of that material actually shows shots that made the final film. Each deleted scene is presented in between the snippets that would have come before and after it in the movie, and often the bits that appear in the finished film run for much longer than does the added stuff. I’d guess that of the 17+ minutes of material, less than half of it is deleted footage.

One nice feature about this section, however, is that the deleted shots are presented in color while the bits from the finished film are black and white. This makes the differentiation much clearer. It’s not executed perfectly, as much of the color footage also appeared in the final movie, but I appreciated the attempt to do something different; it’s a great idea.

The deleted scenes can be viewed with or without commentary from the Farrellys. They don’t say too much about the shots, although they usually tell us why the pieces were left out of the movie. The scenes themselves will probably prove entertaining for folks who liked MMI, but they did little for me.

In this area we find a neat little Easter egg. From the “Deleted Scenes” menu, highlight “Resume Film”. From there click down on your remote and an image of Hank will appear. Click on him and watch about 75 seconds of outtakes. Note: although one website’s review states that this has to be done from the Hank menu, that’s not the case; it works from the Charlie version as well.

One last note about the deleted scenes: they can be viewed on their own or as part of the movie via a branching feature. This isn’t seamless branching of the sort found on the Independence Day or Abyss DVDs. Instead, if you activate the feature, an image of Hank will appear onscreen from time to time. Hit “enter” on your remote and you’ll get to see the deleted shots. This method was used on the X-Men DVD as well and it works nicely.

Next are some very cool “Making Of Vignettes”. There are six of these, each of which lasts from four minutes and 15 seconds to four minutes and 55 seconds; all in all, we get about 27 minutes and 10 seconds of footage. These vignettes simply show raw footage from the set. Although they’ve been edited, there’s no narration or any kinds of interviews; we just see the various participants as they go about their jobs.

And that’s why these clips are so much fun. I love to get natural shots from the set and think they’re the best way to see how movies are really made. Of course we don’t see anything controversial here, but the clips are illuminating and compelling. Not only do we prove that Jim Carrey is gloriously incapable of playing it straight when a camera is pointed at him, but we also see that MMI features one of the best stunt doubles ever recorded; Renee Zellweger’s doppelganger looks so much like her that it’s spooky! All in all, these vignettes are great entertainment.

By the way, the vignettes can be viewed either on their own or as you watch the movie. As with the deleted scenes, branching makes the snippets available as the film runs. This duplicates features found in The Matrix and The World Is Not Enough.

Next up is a six minute and 10 second featurette about the film. This program offers little more than the usual promotional fluff. It’s worth a look if you liked the film but you won’t lose much if you skip it.

And the extras keep coming! We get two trailers and three TV spots plus a “Stills Gallery”. The latter includes a mix of posed promotional pictures and more casual shots from the set. These are divided into 14 different categories; 13 of those address various participants, while the last one is called “Production Stills”. That area is the only one that offers a substantial number of shots; it presents 31 images. The others range from one to five pictures.

While the shots themselves are mildly interesting, the presentation is poor. Not only do you have to go to a lot of work to watch 33 different pictures in a whopping 13 separate categories - there should have been an option to see them all back-to-back - but the size of the images seemed awfully small. Each shot takes up a fraction of the available space. Memo to DVD producers: make stills as large as possible! There’s no logical reason they should use so little space.

I’ve saved one of the better extras for last. We get a music video for Foo Fighters’ “Breakout”. The Foos always make fun videos, and this one’s no exception. It essentially casts head Foo Dave Grohl in the Charlie role as he takes his date to the drive-in. Coincidentally, they go to see MMI, which allows for some semi-subtle integration of film clips into the video. The piece costars a few MMI cast members and is much more entertaining than the usual song-from-a-movie video.

(Editorial note: if you like “Breakout”, you should definitely pick up a copy of the Foos’ most recent album, “There Is Nothing Left to Lose”. I liked the two prior Foo releases - 1995’s “Foo Fighters” and 1997’s “The Colour and the Shape” - but thought both were erratic. That’s not the case with 1999’s “TINLTL”, which is vastly more consistent. It’s a terrific album - go buy it now!)

According to both the case and the disc itself, MMI includes some DVD-ROM features. We’re supposed to be able to read the original screenplay while we watch the movie, and we’re also told that we can play some online games with Internet access. I saw no evidence of the DVD-ROM script anywhere on this disc; if it’s in there, it’s buried pretty deep. When you click on the icon for the online games, you simply go to the Fox website. Granted, I attempted this almost a month prior to the DVD’s street date; often these web materials aren’t put online until the disc formally hits stores, so it’s possible this feature will appear once the DVD is formally released. Unless Fox fixes the disc, however, it looks like the script feature won’t make the cut.

One other addition to this DVD is the inclusion of the “THX Optimode” program. As also found on other Fox DVDs like Fight Club and X-Men, this is supposed to be used to set up your home theater to best present the movie on the disc in question. Apparently the Optimode is unique for each DVD on which it’s included; unlike programs such as Video Essentials; the Optimode should tweak your set-up differently every time. Frankly, I’ve been very happy with my already-established calibration and I’m afraid to muck with it, so I’ve never tried the Optimode. If you lack calibration from Video Essentials or a similar program, or if you’re just more adventurous than I, the Optimode could be a helpful addition.

As a DVD, Me, Myself and Irene presents a pretty nice package. However, the movie itself is a clunker. I liked some of Jim Carrey’s work in the film but though it seemed excessively crude and tacky with any laughs coming only on rare occasions. The DVD presents decent but unexceptional picture and sound plus a complement of solid extras. Fans of prior Farrelly flicks like There’s Something About Mary will probably enjoy this film and should give it a look. However, if those past works haven’t been to your liking, there’s nothing new here to entice you.

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