A mild-mannered cop's crazed alter ego comes to the surface after a series of bizarre events.
Just as Kingpin and There's Something About Mary relied on their crudenessfor effect, so the latest Farrelly brothers' effort plumbs the depths of bodily unpleasantness for its laughs. This time around, however, the masters of mirth have come seriously unstuck. Irene's box office in the States - where it wheezed to the $80 million mark, less than half of Mary's takings - reflects the fact that.
In reality, this should be a magic formula, one which reunites Carrey with his Dumb And Dumber brethren, sits back and watches the coffers swell. And indeed, for the first 20 minutes or so you get everything you've paid for, as hapless Carrey's life crumbles about his ears, his wife fathering black triplets as a result of her affair with a midget chauffeur, the locals treating him as a laughing stock, and little girls squealing expletives at him. His foul-mouthed, boorish alter-ego is obviously simmering below the surface and, on initial appearance, raises the requisite laughs.
However, Carrey's satanic mugging soon wears down to just occasional flashes of inspiration, and while Zellweger tries hard, she lacks genuine presence. Ultimately, Irene lacks the heart and sweetness that made Mary and Dumb And Dumber so appealing, in spite of their obsession with urine-drinking and 'hair gel'. Here, we see Carrey defecate on a neighbour's lawn, push children into ponds and fight with himself in a way that Steve Martin did much better 16 years ago in All Of Me.
But as the humour becomes increasingly desperate, so too does the movie, abandoning all notion of a decent story in its quest to out-gross its peers.
In their efforts to revolt the audience as far as possible, the brothers have forgotten that it takes more than simple outrageousness to make a film of this sort work.