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[whitespace] Jim Carrey
Goodnight, Irene: One of Jim Carrey's dual personalities--presumably the nicer one--cuddles up to the likeness of Irene (Renee Zellweger).

Head Games

The Farrellys' split personality comedy has little personality

By Richard von Busack

HIS WITS UNHINGED by his cuckolding wife, a Rhode Island highway patrolman named Charlie (Jim Carrey) develops a second personality: Hank, a pugnacious, sex-obsessed party hound with a low Clint Eastwood voice. In short, Me, Myself & Irene is kind of a parody of Jim Thompson's Pop. 1280 (the inspiration for Bertrand Tavernier's film Clean Slate).

Given lighter duty because of his troubles, Charlie's supposed to escort Irene (Renée Zellweger) to New York, where she's waiting on a warrant, but it's all a setup--the local police and her boyfriend are gunning for her. This incoherent subplot is just grounds for a long road trip by foot and car and train; the film's full of stale air and scenes that lead nowhere. Devoted fans of Carrey as "rubber-faced fartsmith" (as The Onion put it) will enjoy some of his stuff, but the laxness of this picture tests the devotion.

The soundtrack of Steely Dan cover versions gives the movie a little tangibility, as does the corny cowpoke narration by Rex Allen Jr., very much like Hoyt Axton narrating a 1950s nature documentary for Disney. Listening to Axton's folksy voice-overs on images of a wild animal getting its head stuck in a bucket gave a sense of what God may be thinking when he's watching us from a distance--a safe, sanitary distance: "Oh, it looks like that rascal Richard's bounced a check agin'. Go ahead, son, help yourself to a beer, that'll fix everything."

Me, Myself & Irene is co-written and directed by the Farrelly brothers, who made a mint with There's Something About Mary. The script sat around in limbo for 10 years. This early script shows how much the brothers were influenced by John Waters, not just in the gross-outs, but in the use of local actors, locations and the anemic light. Unlike Waters' films, the Farrellys' work never represents a challenge to society--they use grossness to reaffirm how normal they are. Their kind of comedy is about a white guy's sense of being besieged by people who aren't white guys--old ladies, albinos, dwarves, lesbians, the retarded and so on.

Anyway, the best part of the film isn't Hank or Charlie, but Irene, a tomboy study for the Farrellys' Mary, played nicely by the pocket-sized Zellweger. Her untidy, unaffected good looks are the cool center of a picture full of a lot of hamming and mugging.

Me, Myself & Irene (R; 116 min.), directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, written by Peter and Bobby Farrelly and Mike Cerrone, photographed by Mark Irwin and starring Jim Carrey and Renée Zellweger, opens Friday at selected theaters valleywide.

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From the June 22-28, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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