There’s Something About Mary 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. That last factor changes from the original 1999 release, which came without an anamorphic transfer. I never saw that one, so I can’t compare the two, but the 2003 special edition offered a consistently positive picture.
Sharpness seemed good. A few slight soft spots popped up at times, but those caused no real issues. For the most part, the image looked tight and well defined. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no problems, and I saw only a smidgen of edge enhancement at times. As for print flaws, a few specks and small marks showed up on a few occasions, but those were quite rare.
Mary presented a natural and vivid palette. The colors consistently looked vibrant and lively. They showed no signs of noise, bleeding, or other issues, as the hues were rich and lively. Black levels seemed deep and dense, while shadows came across as appropriately thick but not too heavy. Overall, the picture looked solid and only demonstrated a few small concerns.
As one might expect for a comedy, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of There’s Something About Mary maintained a general orientation toward the front. Within that realm, the mix showed decent stereo imaging but didn’t do a whole lot. Some localized speech popped up at times, and a few settings showed nice ambience. For example, restaurants and bars offered pretty good ambience. A few sequences demonstrated stronger levels of activity. For instance, whenever helicopters or official vehicles came into play, the surrounds popped to life reasonably well. Overall, however, the track displayed modest scope.
Audio quality was acceptable but a little spotty at times. Speech occasionally sounded a little edgy, but most lines were distinct and natural. No intelligibility problems occurred. Music seemed a little flat but the score and songs usually came across as fairly crisp and tight. Effects also were somewhat thin and without great punch, but they appeared decently accurate and clear. Bass response was limited and didn’t present much depth. However, that was a relative concern and not something that seemed really bad; the mix just sounded somewhat lackluster. Still, it seemed good enough to merit a “B-“.
While the original 1999 DVD of Mary included a few extras, it remained a sparsely populated package. This new set – entitled There’s Something More About Mary - fixes that in a big way. Many of the supplements show up on the second platter, but we get a nice selection of pieces on DVD One. The disc allows us to choose between the 119-minute theatrical cut or the 130-minute extended version. (The packaging mistakenly states that the longer edition adds 15 minutes, but unless math has changed since I was in school, 130 minus 119 equals 11.)
I didn’t recognize all the added scenes, but most of them seemed apparent. We found a new introduction to Dom, more shots with Pat and Sully (Jeffrey Tambor), an extended fight between Ted and Puffy, and quite a few other elongated bits. I didn’t think the extra material added much to the flick, but it didn’t detract. Since I complained about the theatrical cut’s length, logically I should feel even less fond of the extended one. However, the extra 11 minutes aren’t a problem; the movie’s already so long that a little more doesn’t cause a problem.
Happily, the extra bits flow smoothly. The new cut integrates them well; I didn’t notice any problems in that domain. Even when a bad jump occurs during the hitchhiker sequence, it was there in the original, so I can’t blame the re-edited version.
DVD One includes two audio commentaries. The first comes from co-writers/directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly. The brothers sit together for this running, screen-specific track. This commentary carries over from the original DVD – sort of. If you listen to it alongside the theatrical cut, you’ll just get the same track you would hear on the old disc. However, if you go with the extended version of the film, you’ll find additional remarks in the appropriate places. I went with the latter and I found the material to integrate quite nicely. Rarely did I feel like there was an abrupt jump from old to new; for the most part, I only recognize the shift because of the topic at hand. The pair connect cleanly.
My prior experiences with Farrelly commentaries weren’t pretty, and Mary offered a similarly erratic piece. As with all other Farrelly tracks, they often tended to just tells us the names of movie locations and relate the identities of minor actors. The Farrellys populate their flicks with pretty everyone they’ve ever met, and they’re more than happy to tell us about them. This makes their commentaries come across as little more than extended credit rolls, and it gets pretty tedious.
Happily, when they’re not telling us about some schmoe they know from third grade, they populate the track with some good information. They discuss the film’s origins and go into the changes they made to the original script. They chat about how they developed various gags and worked with the actors and also relate the riskier parts of the process.
Unlike most directors, the Farrellys love test screenings, and they talk about what they’ve learned from those. They even criticize some parts of the movie that they don’t much like. When they reach the scenes added to the extended version, they provide some details about those and let us know why they didn’t make the original cut. The Farrellys will likely never record a great audio commentary just because they insist on telling us the names of everyone they’ve ever met, but if you get beyond that tendency, Mary offers some good material.
A variation on this track comes via the directors’ bonus commentary. If you choose this option, an icon pops up on the screen five times during the movie. Hit “enter” and you’ll get additional information from the directors. The Farrellys discuss casting and relate some other actors they considered for a few roles. They also go over the pros and cons of the test screening process, Peter’s jump from novels to screenplays and Bobby’s entry into it as well, reworking the screenplay and influences, the evolution of characters, how they work with actors, other teams of brothers who influenced them, and information about baseball player Tony Conigliaro. (The latter makes more sense if you’ve seen the flick.)
These different segments last between two minutes, 50 seconds and 10 minutes, 45 seconds, for a total of 29 minutes, 58 seconds of additional footage. That’s a good chunk of commentary, and unlike the main track, there’s no filler here. You won’t hear about extras and whatnot, as the content remains totally focused on useful subjects. The “bonus commentary” is a very cool and worthwhile addition to the DVD.
Next we get a commentary with co-writers Ed Decter and John J. Strauss, both of whom also sit together for their running, screen-specific track. The pair cover the origins of their script and go through many of the changes the Farrellys made to it. They also get into the structure of the work. Unfortunately, they spend most of the commentary telling us how wonderful everything in the film is, and they really pour on the praise for the Farrellys. Some interesting information appears here, but overall, the piece seems a little too obsequious for my liking.
(Note that while you can watch either version of the film with the Farrelly commentary, you only get the writers track if you check out the theatrical edition.)
Finally, disc one presents alternate clay animated titles. If activated, these replace the normal credits at the start of the film. These use claymation to paint a purportedly sweet picture to launch the tale. It doesn’t work, and they instead seem creepy. The opening titles for the released film are more effective, though they’re pretty bland.
As we move to DVD Two, we locate many additional components. Getting Behind Mary offers a 43-minute and 43-second “video diary”. It includes sporadic comments/introductions from actors Matt Dillon, Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller, but the vast majority of the piece shows raw video footage from the set. We see the actors and crew work out various scenes and get a great look at the production. I love this kind of stuff, and “Behind” offers a fun view of the proceedings.
A more standard piece, Backstory: There’s Something About Mary gives us a 20-minute and 43-second documentary that first appeared on the AMC cable channel. It mixes shots from the set, movie clips, and interviews with directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly, writers Ed Decter and John J. Strauss, producer Frank Beddor, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment Tom Rothman, actors Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Chris Elliott, Lin Shaye, and cinematographer Mark Irwin. This program follows the movie’s path to the screen via the origins of the script, its time in limbo, getting the Farrellys on board, casting, and controversial elements. Not a deep documentary, it nonetheless includes enough good info and fun to merit a viewing.
Less useful is the 21-minute and 29-second Comedy Central’s Reel Comedy. Hosted by actor Harland Williams, it features a few behind the scenes snippets but mostly consists of film snippets and interviews with Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Chris Elliott, Matt Dillon, and Peter and Bobby Farrelly. I’ve come to dread these “Reel Comedy” shows, as they’re almost always uninformative and insipid. They try desperately to be irreverent, but they simply drone with puffy comments and go nowhere. This one’s similarly bland and unfunny. Even the potentially amusing sight of Elliott on a lie detector comes across as lame here.
An excerpt from the 1999 MTV Movie Awards show, Best Fight: Ben Stiller and Puffy the Dog shows Stiller’s acceptance speech. It lasts three minutes and four seconds and shows a faux “behind the scenes” piece in which we learn that Puffy’s a CG creation made by ILM. It’s cute and fairly amusing.
Called “Marketing Mary”, the next section includes some promotional pieces. We start with the flick’s theatrical trailer and a whopping 13 TV spots. Oddly, the latter come in reverse chronological order; we start with a Labor Day-related ad and go back to the film’s July debut. (The promos also include a lot of spoilers.) The International Posters area includes six stills of those documents. Awkwardly, some alter the standard shot of Diaz with her hands on her knees to show her “gelled” hair.
Exposing Themselves consists of new interviews with Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon and Chris Elliott. In the 14-minute and 25-second piece, they chat about working with the Farrellys, reactions to some of the material in the flick, character elements, all the Farrelly friends on the set, dealing with stunts and the fake Puffy, exposure to Farrelly genitals, and some other topics. Some fun info appears, though we don’t learn much that doesn’t appear elsewhere. Overall, the program seems decent but not tremendously illuminating.
After all this material with the main actors, we focus on others starting with Up a Tree With Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins. In this 11-minute and 37-second program, we open with information about Richman from musicians Ric Ocasek, Marcellus Hall, and Dean Wareham. They discuss Richman’s history and impact on the world of music. From there we get an interview with Richman and Larkins. They cover a mix of goofball questions like what they prefer to drink on a hot day and favorite ice creams along with some info about the music made for the movie and the shoot itself. I could live without some of the silliness, but there’s some useful facts here nonetheless.
After this we find Franks and Beans: A Conversation with W. Earl Brown. In this five-minute and 32-second featurette, Brown discusses the real-life basis for Warren, other inspirations for his portrayal, some personal inside jokes, and reactions to the film. It’s a meaty little chat that covers a lot of interesting ground.
I thought Brown offered the best pure acting in Mary. For a chat with the flick’s worst performer, we move to Touchdown: A Conversation with Brett Favre. During the five-minute and 36-second piece, he relates reactions to his appearance, how he got involved with the flick, what it was like on the set, and what he plans to do after his football career. Not much good material pops up here, though it’s fun to see Favre gently mock his own lack of acting skill.
For something even less useful, we find Interview Roulette with Harland Williams. The six-minute and 50-second piece badly wants to be wacky and irreverent. Williams answers questions like the historical era in which he’d like to live and his favorite dirty word, and he tells us the only other person he knows of with the name “Harland”. He includes a few generic comments about his movie experiences, but mostly he tosses out some attempts at warped humor. They’re just lame and not funny, and this feature is pretty weak.
Puffy, Boobs and Balls runs 10 minutes and 55 seconds and comes with the subtitle “Makeup 101 With Designer Tony Gardner and Actress Lin Shaye”. They cover the topics mentioned in the title, as they go over the creation of various prosthetics and other elements used in the film. Magda’s frightening breasts get special attention and Shaye also chats about her involvement in the project and the reactions she’s received over the last five years. This program seems light and charming and it includes some nice facts not really addressed elsewhere.
Shaye shows up in character as Magda for Behind the Zipper, a four-minute and 34-second featurette. We see some shots from the set and get comments from paramedic Evan Liss, emergency doctor Wally Ghurabi, urologist Dr .Jay Stein, psychologist Dr. Paul Tobias, lawyer Kip Hunter, and “prom victim Alan”. (The participants seem to be legit and not actors except for “Alan”.) They discuss the alleged real-life ramifications of the zipper attack seen in the flick. You won’t get much actual info here, but fans of the movie might think it’s funny.
Around the World with Mary gives us a multilanguage option. The five-minute and 43-second clip shows the film’s climactic confrontation scene. We get eight different choices: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Thai and Turkish. (Of course, you can also hear it in Spanish if you go back to DVD One and watch the movie that way.) It’s a cute feature but nothing special.
A few minor bits round out the set. We find a karaoke rendition of ”Build Me Up Buttercup”. This simply shows the film’s end credits sans cast and crew listings but with lyrics on the screen. We also locate a music video for the Dandy Warhols’ “Every Day Should Be a Holiday”. Mostly just a standard lip-synch performance clip along with the usual movie snippets, this one earns a few creativity points due to the use of claymation for some bits. Finally, we get three minutes and 27 seconds of outtakes. These feature the usual flubs, improvs and general wackiness from the set.
While I admit I’ve warmed somewhat to There’s Something About Mary over the last five years, I still don’t really understand its huge success. The movie succeeds at times due to a good cast, but the preponderance of crude gags makes it only fitfully amusing. The DVD offers very good picture with good but unexceptional sound and a truly terrific set of extras. This new package belongs in the collection of all Mary fans, even those who shelled out for the old disc. The two-DVD version thoroughly trounces that prior release and is definitely the one to own.