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Sunday, April 25, 1999
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There’s Something About Mary
By Ervell E. Menezes

THERE’S so much I heard about There’s Something About Mary that I was quite disappointed after seeing the film. But then I hadn’t seen Dumb and Dumber by the Farrelly Brothers Peter and Bob so I was in no position to surmise what the fare might be. The title for one thing, is catchy.

The duet playing the music is also cute and the line goes There’s something about Mary that you don’t know. It is like the Greek chorus and comments on the film but the humour is weak. At least not my type of humour. It is far too slapstick and at times base and even vulgar. It’s in the Jim Carrey mould and Ben Stiller who plays Ted, the born loser who is trying to revive his romance for his high school date, could well emulate Carrey who by now has realised that he must move on to something more plausible and hence his induction in The Truman Show.

Yes, comely Cameron Diaz is Mary but not all that she does is funny. Or for that matter romantic. And shuttling between Matt Dillon and Ben Stiller is like being between the devil and the deep sea. I’ve seen Matt Dillon in a film with Gene Hackman and quite a good job he did then. But if he’s going to ham about it senseless comedies like this he’s likely to ruin a promising career.

"Six Days, Seven Nights" is much better. In fact it is slotted as the Valentine Day release even though the romance is an April-November type. After all you can’t expect an ageing Harrison Ford to play a young lover. But the subject, one of being stranded on a desert island with a woman , must have been the day-dream of many a youth. Hollywood too has cashed in on it Blue Legoon (Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins) and Castaway (Oliver Reed) readily come to mind.

Comedy has to take precedence over romance. So, when magazine editor Robin Monroe (Anne Heche) is forced by circumstance to spend almost a week with hard-drinking, simple-living freight plane pilot Quinn Harris (Harrison Ford) it is not exactly a made-for-each-other couple. In fact Robin is on a holiday with her rather straight-jacket boy-friend Frank Martin (David Schwimmer) who doesn’t hesitate to pop the question on their arrival in the South Pacific island, when she is forced to go to Tahiti on an urgent assignment. That’s how she is thrown together with Quinn.

Now in a film of this nature the boy-friend has to be a dud. After all, he has to lose the girl. Also the hero and the heroine have to be incompatible, always arguing with each other or fighting over little things. That helps the chemistry, they say. But speaking of Harrison Ford in his salad days I remember one of the finest romances I’ve seen Hanover Street has Ford in the lead role as a World War II pilot who falls in love with a married woman played to perfection by Leslie-Ann Downe. What a film!

I’m not a big fan of director Ivan Reitman whose Ghostbusters was not really my cup of tea. His Dave in which Kevin Kline plays a very human American President is better. Here he does a good job and this is mainly because of a witty screenplay by Michael Browning and two very talented performers. Ford of course is tried and tested but Anne Heche, whom we first saw alongside Tommy Lee Jones in Volcano and who seems to be going from strength to strength.

The anything-is-possible genre which Hollywood thrives on these days, helps. If the plane crashes, you that somehow before the curtain come down it will be mended. It may not be as plausible as say The Flight of the Phoenix, a saga of survival in the wilderness but then it was made in the 1960s and will remain a classic. In today’s films credibility is not an important ingredient.

This is what co-producer Roger Birnbaum says about picking Ford: "The reason I thought Harrison would be perfect for the part is that he conveys all the qualities of the part required — wit, manliness and confidence". And that he surely does.

Harrison Ford fans will surely like him better in films like Witness (with Kelly McGillis) and Frantic (directed by Roman Polanski) or even action-packed thrillers like Clear and Present Danger or Patriot Games. But this casting only shows that Ford has had his day and must be less physical. And in this he surely succeeds.

The arithmetic of the title Six Days, Seven Nights doesn’t seem right and for all its predictability it is worth watching. You’ll also see that Hollywood seems to prefer skimpier females (Gwyneth Parltow is another) these days. Anne Heche plays the Janet Leigh part in Psycho but more of that next time. Back

This feature was published on March 21, 1999

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