There are popcorn movies, and then there are choke-on-your-popcorn movies--gross-out comedies that will have you gagging on the gags. Me, Myself & Irene, which stars Jim Carrey as a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde highway patrolman, is definitely one of the latter. Brought to you by the Farrelly brothers, who seemed to have matured from the fart jokes of Dumb and Dumber to the fart-jokes-plus-romance of There's Something About Mary, Me, Myself & Irene wears its heart on its snot-encrusted sleeve. Among the highlights are the neighbor's dog taking a crap on Carrey's lawn and Carrey taking a crap on the neighbor's lawn. Turdabout is fair play, I guess, but there's a sense of desperation in the Farrelly's latest attempt to crack up 16-year-olds of all ages. Everybody knows that the fourth fart joke isn't as funny as the first. Not that Me, Myself & Irene isn't funny--hilariously so, and often. More than once in his career, Carrey has proven himself capable of redeeming crappy material, and he puts on quite a show here as a nice-guy cop who's literally taken so much shit that it leads to a psychotic break, releasing an alter ego who makes Dirty Harry look like Barney Fife. The first time he goes from gentle to mental, Carrey does it using only the rubbery contortions of his face--a throwback to early stage versions of Jekyll and Hyde. And later, when the alter egos get into an ego altercation, he both reaches for and surpasses Steve Martin's great dancing-with-myself routine in All of Me. Rarely has a comedian brought so much to the table. "Fred Astaire on acid" is how Carrey once described himself. "Fred and Ginger on acid" is more like it. Mental-health groups are reportedly up in arms over the movie's depiction of split personalities, to which I can only say, "Get in line." The Farrellys are equal-opportunity offenders, although with a sweetness--and a weird kind of PC savvy--that can take a lot of the sting out. When Carrey's wife leaves him for a midget limo driver who happens to be black, it's really just an excuse for a bunch of midget jokes, but the Farrellys make sure to give the little person the upper hand. (He whups Carrey's ass with a nun-chuck.) And it somehow leads to Carrey raising three extra-large black guys as if they were his own. Jerod Mixon, Anthony Anderson and Mongo Brownlee seem to get a laugh every time they open their potty mouths; and Carrey, one of the whiter comedians around, plays off them perfectly, promising to "bust a cap" at work.
A string of gags without the string, Me, Myself & Irene can't make up in laughs what it lacks in story. Plot? Forget about it. Renee Zellweger plays a woman on the run from...somebody, but she's really there so both sides of Carrey's personality will have someone to bounce off of. Half the time, I didn't know where Carrey and Zellweger were headed, or why. And half that time, I didn't care, because Carrey was doing killer schtick. But the movie wears you out, grabs hold of your funny bone and starts grinding away. For all their imitators, the Farrellys remain unsurpassed at staging a bit, especially a naughty-bits bit. (Rule #1: Hire Carrey or Ben Stiller.) But I thought they were showing signs of going beyond pee-pee, caca and tatas. The best I can say for Me, Myself & Irene is, be careful with that popcorn.