A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that There's Something About Mary is a gross-out movie that features rampant unscrupulous, shocking, and inappropriate behavior to elicit laughs. It's funny stuff for the right crowd of adult comedy aficionados and a well-made movie for the often-maligned genre. Kids will want to see it because of the star power of Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller and its notorious shock value as a Farrelly brothers film. But consider this while you listen to them beg: the film features lots of jokes about male sexual insecurity, including getting caught masturbating (falsely and then really, when Mary finds ejaculate on Ted's ear and mistakes it for hair gel), injuring their genitals, gay male sex, and rape. It also makes light of sociopathic behavior, as one character stalks Mary and all the other men in her life continually deceive her.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY centers on hapless Ted (Ben Stiller), who's having a Charlie Brown life. His therapist ducks out on his sessions, his friends have everything he wants, and he still can't get over the girl he almost went to prom with (Cameron Diaz). He's having fantasies about her and trying to forget the tragic zipper accident that sent him to the hospital for weeks and forced him to miss out on what he's sure would have been his perfect relationship. So he takes Dom's (Chris Elliot's) advice and hires a private investigator Healy (Matt Dillon) to find her so he can finally have closure and, maybe, a second chance at love. But can Healy find her, and if he can, can he resist her football-and-beer-loving charm?
Is it any good?
Sure, the plot may sound like your typical romantic comedy -- but not with the Farrelly brothers at the helm. These are the same guys who brought you Dumb and Dumber, with its toilet humor and political incorrectness. Instead, this is a frat guy's idea of a romantic comedy, full of jokes at the expense of disabled people and women. Sure, the guys who fall for Mary are the ultimate joke; undeveloped man-boy idiots drooling over her charms -- how many leggy blondes are doctors who love beer and football?
If you can't stand this kind of humor, stay clear. And it's certainly not the thing for anyone with dating horror stories -- Chris Elliot's character won't be funny at all. But the film definitely has enough to satisfy adult gross-out humor fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of this movie and the whole gross-out genre. Do you think these extremely flawed characters are funny? What do you think about angelic and idealized Mary in comparison?
Is this film equally funny to men and women? Why or why not?
Were there parts of the film you found more offensive than funny? Would you seek out other movies like this or stick to lighter comedy fare?
- In theaters: July 15, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: September 13, 2005
- Cast: Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon
- Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong comic sexual content and language.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love comedy
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch