Movie review of Me, Myself & Irene

Friday, June 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A case of been-there, done-that was bound to explode in the faces of Jim Carrey and the Farrelly Brothers. In Me, Myself & Irene, the result is a movie that's never as insanely funny as it strains to be.

That's not to imply that the movie is sanely funny. But Mr. Carrey and particularly directors/co-writers Bobby and Peter Farrelly follow a plot structure that doesn't allow the riotous detours of some of their previous jaunts. Much of the film's footage simply services the plot, creating several noticeably laugh-free stretches.

Farrelly fanatics needn't worry: None of the above talents commits any sins in the name of good taste. After watching Me, Myself & Irene, it will be impossible to inspect a milk-moustache ad or order a cheese taco with the same nonchalance as before.

What's more, the line between "cruelty jokes" and just plain mean-spiritedness is wobblier than ever. Rather than celebrating stupidity and naivete as its predecessors did, the new movie plays mental problems for laughs. When some of the laughs don't materialize on as grand a scale as expected, what's left is the flatness of unfunny political incorrectness.

Having exhausted our righteous indignation, it's now time to reassure the Carrey crowd that their hero remains an inspired physical comedian. Mr. Carrey plays the happiest of sad sacks, Rhode Island state trooper Charlie Baileygates, who's so trusting that he doesn't ask questions when his faithless spouse gives birth to African-American triplets. After she runs off with her lover, Charlie becomes the most diligent of single parents.

Eventually, the anger that seethes silently within Charlie erupts in the form of an alternate personality, Hank. He's a swaggering macho man who courts confrontations and smirks about sex. Charlie can change into Hank without warning.

The film's cumbersome subplot involves the titular Irene (Renee Zellweger, in a good-sport turn). Framed by a no-good ex-boyfriend, she's wanted on trumped-up charges. It falls to Charlie to escort Irene back to upstate New York, but Hank intrudes on Charlie's turf at pivotal points. It turns into a bumpy and lengthy road trip for Charlie, Hank, Irene - and, unfortunately, the audience. The Farrelly Brothers don't know when to yield, let alone stop.

Happily, Mr. Carrey has never seemed less self-aware. He never winks at the audience or implies that he really knows better than his character(s). He's at the peak of his talents and deserves a tighter screenplay.

Ms. Zellweger at least gives the impression that she's enjoying herself. But Chris Cooper and Robert Forster look lost and woeful. Anthony Anderson, Mongo Brownlee and Jerod Mixon gain some of the movie's biggest laughs as Charlie's low-brow, high-IQ sons, and Michael Bowman finds humor in the lamely written part of a mild-mannered psycho.

Me, Myself & Irene is fodder for the faithful. If you go thinking you'll have a great time, you'll probably have a good one.