The outrageous ''There's Something About Mary'' hopes that lowbrow humor means high grosses

By Josh Wolk
July 15, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

”There’s Something About Mary,” which opens today, is a new high in low humor for cowriters/ directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly. The crass comedy about Ben Stiller’s search for the woman (Cameron Diaz) he’s desired since high school features such over the top gags as a man getting his privates visibly snarled in a zipper and an outrageous hair gel scene that can’t be described in a family column. It’s a mighty step deeper into the muck for the team that brought you a cop inadvertantly drinking Jim Carrey’s urine from a beer bottle in 1994’s ”Dumb and Dumber” and Randy Quaid performing as an Amish stripper in 1996’s ”Kingpin.”

”Mary” has already built an enviable buzz. ”It’s the new ‘Caddyshack,”’ says EW senior writer David Hochman. ”There are certain things in it you thought you could never actually see in the movies. Every time that happens in a movie, like with the ‘farting at the campfire’ scene in ‘Blazing Saddles,’ the film tends to take off.”

Fans of outrageous flicks take note: ”Mary” is just the first in a flurry of below the belt comedies coming to theaters. ”Mafia!,” made by one of the inventors of ”Airplane!,” opens July 24; and ”BASEketball,” starring the creators of ”South Park,” opens on July 31. Trey Parker, one of the ”South Park” duo, also wrote and directed ”Orgazmo,” about a Mormon who becomes a porn star/ superhero, which premieres Sept. 29. It seems studios are big on getting gross to aim for big grosses. ”TV has gotten more ‘out there’ with shows like ‘Beavis and Butt-head,’ ‘Howard Stern,’ and ‘Jerry Springer,”’ says Hochman. ”Since audiences can get edgy stuff at home for free, movies need to give people something even more outrageous than they can see on TV.”

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