By Leah Rozen
July 20, 1998 12:00 PM

Matt Dillon, Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller

Featured attraction

Just about the time a character mistakes a certain body fluid for hair gel and decides a little dab will do her, this movie gels. The joke is rude and gross, but it’s also funny. Real funny. Rather than taking a stand for good taste and propriety, viewers will be better off surrendering to the outrageous mixture of full-tilt zaniness, ribaldry and freewheeling bonhomie in There’s Something About Mary, a romantic comedy with its heart in the right place and its mind considerably lower. Let’s just put it this way: The movie’s two best sight gags, including the one above, can’t be described fully in a family publication.

That should surprise no one. Mary is written and directed by Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly, the skewed sibling duo whose films include the vulgar-are-us comedies Dumb and Dumber and Kingpin. Their latest offering, while more sophisticated and appealing in its plot and performances, is still definitely too crude for prudes.

At the center of Mary lies a sweet love story. Stiller, a nerdy writer, has pined for the movie’s titular hero (Diaz) ever since they had a single date back in high school. That date ended disastrously when, while using the bathroom at her house, Stiller encountered zipper problems. Now, more than a decade later, he hires an investigator (Dillon) to track Diaz down. A gleefully unscrupulous sleazeball, Dillon promptly falls for the dazzling Diaz himself and begins putting the moves on her. Hilarity, truly, ensues.

The entire cast has a blast, especially Dillon, who, sporting the thinnest of pencil-thin mustaches, revels in playing a louse. The scene where he drugs and then desperately tries to revive a passed-out pooch is alone worth the price of admission. (R)

Bottom Line: Raunchy, sweet and funny at the same time, always a winning combo