Farrelly Brothers: Beastie Boys

The Farrelly Brothers hand cream is not something you really wanna put in your hair. Sound cryptic? Read on...


You know the old showbiz joke, 'Dying is easy, comedy is hard?" In the hands of Peter and Bobby Farrelly, comedy really isn't easy, since it's no-holds-barred, surrealistically scatological, dare-you-to-put-this-on-screen fare. The Dumb & Dumber _and _Kingpin filmmakers have milked belly laughs out of selling a dead parrot to a crippled blind kid and having a highway cop drink pee out of a speeder's beer bottle.

Snoots may scold them, but lots of people disinclined to consider Ernst Lubitsch and the Marx Brothers mutually exclusive find them side-splitting fun. This summer, the flying Farrellys have made lowbrow art out of There's Something About Mary, which has Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz and Matt Dillon involved in a romantic triangle peppered by pet-related pratfalls, penis jokes, and a masturbation set piece that will make cinema history of one sort or another. Fox studio boss Peter Chernin was overheard citing one way off-color bit of dialogue after a test screening and telling the brothers, "That line sums you two up. It's perfectly reprehensible."

Do the Farrellys play by any rules? "We'll try virtually anything, but if something outrageous gets only so-so laughs, we'll probably cut it," asserts Peter, the looser-acting, slightly older of the fortyish brethren, a Columbia University creative writing masters grad and author of the acclaimed novels Outside Providence and The Comedy Writer. Adds Bobby, the faintly Kennedy-ish, slightly straighter of the two, "You won't earn laughs if somebody is going to be hurt by something--meaning what's offensive to us, what we won't do, is any gay-bashing or racism. But who gets hurt by a guy sitting on the dumper letting a huge one rip?"

And from whence springs the Farrellys' manic, try-almost-anything glee? "There's no deep psychology," Bobby insists. "Growing up in the Rhode Island/Massachusetts area influenced us, the basic sense of humor there. Almost every gag in our movies comes from real-life incidents." Adds Peter, "Even our parents' sense of humor is very out there. The other day I told my father a tasteless joke about the similarity between a woman and a washing machine, and he was, like, 'You've gotta tell your mother that one!'"

Now that they've wrapped There's Something About Mary, which they rewrote with the original scriptwriters, pals Ed Decter and John J. Strauss, the Farrellys are overseeing final edit on the film version of Outside Providence, which they produced, and will be keeping a distant eye on the Dumb & Dumber prequel, to be written by South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone. But one last question about Ben Stiller's destined-to-be infamous masturbation scene in There's Something About Mary. What on earth got used as prop semen? "Promise not to tell Ben," says Bobby, "because we told him it was a mixture of hand creams. But that was all mine."


Stephen Rebello