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There’s Something About Mary (1998)

After the box-office failure of Kingpin (1996), directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the brothers were convinced their next film would be their last. Deciding to go out with a bang, they threw every crazy gag they could think of into their script for There’s Something About Mary and got one of the year’s highest-grossing films in return. It set them up to continue making films like Me, Myself & Irene (2000), Shallow Hal (2001), and ultimately, Peter’s Oscar-winning drama Green Book (2018).

Ben Stiller stars as Ted, a writer obsessed with Mary (Cameron Diaz), the girl he almost took to the prom before an unfortunate zipper accident put him in the hospital. He hires a private eye (Matt Dillon) to track her down, only for the investigator to fall in love with her and file a false report to cool Ted’s ardor. Before long, Ted sees through the lie and heads to Miami to find her himself, setting the stage for a confrontation between him, the private eye, and Mary’s two other obsessed suitors.

The Farrellys got the idea for the film when they saw a beautiful woman changing near an open window and fantasized about a private eye trying to find her. They wrote the title role for Diaz, whom they saw as the perfect woman. Whatever your taste, she was certainly the perfect actress for their film, able to hold her own on screen surrounded by eccentric comic performances by Stiller, Dillon, Chris Elliott, Lee Evans, and Lin Shaye. Not only is she believable as an object of obsession, but the sweetness and purity she radiates in the film grounds even the raunchiest jokes—which explains her win for Best Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle.

d. Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly, 119 minutes, DCP

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios