Film: There's Something About Mary

His friends would stay stop whining, they've had enough of that
His friends would say stop pining, there's other girls to look at
They tried to set him up with Tiffany and Indigo...
But there's something about Mary that they don't know...

There's Something About Mary is a 1998 romantic comedy film, directed by the Farrelly Brothers and starring Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon and Ben Stiller. Awkward and shy high-schooler Ted (Ben Stiller) lands a Prom date with his dream girl Mary (Cameron Diaz), only to have it cut short by a painfully humiliating zipper accident.

Thirteen years later, Ted is still in love - maybe even obsessed - with her. On the advice of his best friend Dom (Chris Elliott), he hires sleazy private detective Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to track her down. Healy finds that she is an orthopedic surgeon living in Miami but falls in love with the irresistible Mary as well. As the film progresses, Ted and Pat compete for her affections as the roster of other suitors rapidly snowballs.

This film contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Rare Male Examples
  • Anti-Villain: Pat Healy - he's a total sleazebag and will say anything to get in Mary's pants, but he actually grows to love and care for her. In fact, he thinks he's doing her a favor by stealing her from Ted, who he views as a creepy stalker..
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Inverted, when Ted is falsely accused of murder, but he thinks he's only in trouble for picking up hitchhikers and unintentionally soliciting gay sex.
  • Artistic License Medicine:
    • Ted's chiropractor says that Ted has "tender fascial tissue left of L7". There are only 5 lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5), not 7.
    • Mary, who is a medical doctor, mistakes semen for hair gel.
  • Berserk Button: Never mess with Warren's ears.
    • This in itself becomes a subtle, yet heartwarming, moment when Ted leaves Mary to be happy with Brett, but not before he lifts up Warren's headphones to say goodbye to him. Warren doesn't react badly. Since Mary had earlier said that Warren won't let people touch his ears unless he trusts them, it convinces Mary of her feelings for Ted.
  • Big Bad: Woogie, Mary's high-school ex who has been pining for her for over a decade.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: There's no parts that stick out of 1985 Ted's mouth or around his head, but it's still a pretty sizable set even for the 1980's.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: An interesting version at the very end. At the end Seabass reveals that he was only having sex with Magda to get to Mary, and shoots at Ted, hitting one of the Greek Chorus members instead, thus bringing them into the movie proper instead of them just being inframe narrators. Of course it's the final scene in a comedy and for the Rule of Funny, so it has no bearing on the plot.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: For all his many faults Pat is a hell of a bloodhound. As well as something of a Manipulative Bastard.
  • The Cameo: "What the hell is Brett Favre doing here?"
  • Camera Sniper: When Pat is tracking Mary.
  • Career Resurrection: Matt Dillon again became a bankable star after this movie.
    • Not sure if it's the correct trope or not, but the songs "Buttercup" by the Foundations and "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" by Joe Jackson were both brought back from obscurity by the movie and "Buttercup" in particualr is now a regular on oldies station's playlists.
  • The Chessmaster: Woogie. He advises Ted to hire Pat Healy to find Mary, advises Ted to contact her, drives Ted to Miami and then sends an anonymous letter to get both Ted and Pat out of the way, leaving him free to swoop in and steal her shoes all without Ted suspecting anything. Even his friendship with Ted appears to be an early move in his game.
  • The Chew Toy: Poor Ted gets mauled by a dog, nearly murdered by a hitchhiker, snagged on the lip by a fishhook, and beaten up by Warren. Oh, and then there's the whole zipper incident...
  • Chekhov's Lecture: "Highway rest stops are the gay bath houses of the 90s."
    • The conversation between Mary and her friends about "Brett". On a repeat viewing, you can catch a few clues about his identity, with one friend calling him "Pack Man" and Mary also talking about how he lived "up north."
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Healy: We agreed I wouldn't fuck you, and you wouldn't fuck me until we got this....fuck outta the fuckin' picture!
  • Cringe Comedy
  • Crowd Song / Dance Party Ending: The whole cast singing Build Me Up Buttercup over the credits.
  • Cultural Translation: Unfortunately averted - non-American viewers might not have understood what was so extraordinarily special about Brett being in love with Mary too. (For those who don't know, Brett Favre is a very famous American Football player.)
  • Curtain Call: Has this in Dance Party Ending.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The "hair gel scene"
  • Devoted to You / Dude Magnet: The basis of the plot.
    • Subverted because all the guys Mary attracts are creeps and weirdos.
    • Except for Brett.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Ted.
  • Double Meaning: When Ted is speaking to Dom in the bar he mentions Mary. Dom says "Not Mary again" This is more meaningful as a Rewatch Bonus.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Puffy, according to Magda. According to Mary, Puffy just hates men regardless of their motives.
  • Fan Disservice: The binocular shot of Magna topless.
  • Greek Chorus: Songwriter Jonathan Richman.
  • Groin Attack: The zipper incident provides the requisite Squick, although it's a self-inflicted accident. There's a more traditional example by the dog later.
  • The Grunting Orgasm: Ted crumples the newspaper when he finishes.
  • Hypocritical Humor: "You're the worst stalker of us all, man!"
  • I Am One of Those Too: When Pat tries to impress Mary by pretending to be a suave architect. Cue her architect friend. Who was also only pretending.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Ted is confused on how Dom knows about the zipper incident, since he never told him. Dom does a Hand Wave to this by saying he only lived four towns away. This seems like a minor throwaway moment, but comes back later when Dom is revealed to be "Woogie", Mary's high school boyfriend prior to meeting Ted, which also shows how he knew about said incident.
  • Ironic Echo: Throughout the movie, everyone takes advantage of Ted's gullibility to jerk him around, only to laugh it off by saying "I'm fucking with you!" when he believes it. At the end, Mary sincerely tells Ted that she'd be happiest with him... and his response, after a few moments, is a miserable, dejected and resigned "You're fuckin' with me, right?"
  • It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: "Brett Fav-ruh."
  • Ivy League for Everyone
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: At the end, Ted is the only one willing to do this for Mary. Her response? "But I'd be happiest with you".
  • The Lad-ette: Part of Mary's Sueification is her combining a love of playing/watching sports and beer with otherwise perfect femininity.
    Mary: Want to come inside and watch SportsCenter?
  • Let Me at Him!: Parodied. Ted is suspected of being a twisted Serial Killer by a pair of detectives, but it's in fact a huge mix-up and Ted only ran into the real culprit without even knowing. This starts a Mistaken Confession where Ted casually admits his habit of "picking up hitchhikers". When he says that he might have had up to fifty hitchhikers in his life and makes light of this fact, the more unnerved of the two cops bashes Ted's head into the table in rage.
  • Love Dodecahedron: A Type 3 Triang Relation extended into a Love Dodecahedron with Mary at the center. Everybody is in love with/stalks Mary, including the main character and even football star Brett Favre. Naturally, Mary choses the main character even over Brett. (She's a Niners fan.)
  • Magical Defibrillator: When Pat has to resuscitate the dog. With an electrical cable.
  • Meaningful Name: Is Mary's middle name Sue?
    • Pat Healy, who is indeed a heel.
    • Norm, who's just a normal guy.
    • Dom who also happens to be the most aggressive and dominant of Mary's stalkers
  • Mistaken Confession: Hitchhiking vs. murder. "How many? In my whole life? I dunno, 15/20? I don't exactly keep track..."
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: Ted Stroehmann is daydreaming in the bathroom but is accused of masturbating to Mary, who is changing clothes in a room in view.
    • Later averted when he really has been masturbating and Mary thinks the suspicious substance on his ear is hair gel.
  • Must Make Amends: The main character is visiting Mary's house and accidentally kills her dog. And his reaction to this is to, quite literally, attempt to resuscitate the dog.
  • Oh, Crap: "Is gel?"
  • Off on a Technicality: Mary's architect friend, who was actually a pizza delivery boy, claimed Pat was a murderer who stayed in prison for five years until a technicality got him off. It wasn't true.
  • Playing against type: Matt Dillon had previously been known for playing rebellious teens. His turn in this as a hilarious sleazy Private detective was completely different than anything he'd done before.
    • Keith David as well who'd been primarily in actions and dramas to this point. His reaction to seeing Ted's predicament is arguably the funniest moment in the film.
  • Poor Man's Porn: Ted uses a newspaper brassiere ad before the "Hair gel" scene
  • Precision F-Strike: When Tucker informs Mary of the fact that Pat Healy never went to Harvard, Healy, whos eavesdropping, launches one.
    Pat Healy: FUCK!
    • "From that moment on, the guys at school looked at me in a whole new light"
    "You're a fucking liar!"
  • Refuge in Audacity: The dog fight.
  • The Reveal: "Who the hell is Woogie?" Ted's friend Dom.
    • And then later in the scene, Mary's saint-like ex-boyfriend "Brett" turns out to be Brett Favre.
  • Sexual Karma
  • She Cleans Up Nicely
  • Shown Their Work: Though Warren is played for laughs he's a very accurate portrayal of an individual with mild mental retardation with autistic-like tendencies. He's often in his own little world, self-stimulates, has his routines and possessions which he holds dear, and is tactile defensive (does not like to be touched in certain areas). He is also functional and capable of establishing relationships and trust. Most indicated by the very subtle moment at the end where he allows Ted to touch his ears without going off. It is a Farrelly Brothers movie and they do a lot of work with individuals with disabilities and as a result always show such indiduals accurately and in a positive manner. This was also clearly demonstrated during the scene where Mary brings lunch to the other individuals from Warren's group. Though I have no confirmation it seems they were obviously played by actual individuals with mild mental handicaps.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Pat Healy.
  • Left the Background Music On: Crossed with Greek Chorus and a Theme Tune Cameo.
  • Stalker with a Crush: This seems to be the kind of guy Mary attracts.
  • Stalking Is Love: With everyone!
  • Sudden Musical Ending: The whole cast lip-synching to "Build Me Up, Buttercup".
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else: When the cops mistakenly think that Ted is a serial murderer, they remark that they never look like how you expect them upon seeing Ted.
  • Title Drop: During the Greek Chorus bits.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Ted gets two fish hook barbs through his cheek in a graphic scene but is none the worse for wear when he shows up next.
  • Unwanted Harem: Deconstructed. No, it's not cool being the object of so much affection.
  • You Monster!: Parodied. When the cops mistake Ted for a Serial Killer and he apparently "confesses" having a bodycount in the dozens, one of the horrified detectives loses it. With utter fury he responds "You son of a bitch... you're gonna fry" before slamming Ted's head into the table repeatedly.

Alternative Title(s):

Theres Something About Mary