Great Scene: “There’s Something About Mary”

Ah, the infamous hair gel scene.

So back in 1998, I was at CAA when my agent pulled me into his office: “You have to see this!”

Grinning wildly, he informs us it’s a rough cut clip from the new movie the Farrelly brothers are working on. He turns on the VCR and we all watch the now famous “hair gel” scene from There’s Something About Mary.

After we all stop laughing, our agent says, “That one scene will make that movie a hit.”

Now that’s a great scene.

Here’s the scripted version:

INT. TED’S HOTEL BATHROOM — SAME

Ted has a newspaper splayed out on the counter (open to the bra
ads) as he furiously FLOGS THE DOLPHIN (chest-high side view.) We
see some balled-up tissue nearby. After several frantic strokes,
he takes a deep breath and slowly and loudly EXHALES, clearly
having COMPLETED HIS MISSION.

He draws a few more breaths, picks up a face cloth, and goes to
clean up.

But something’s missing: The Load. Ted looks down, checks his
hands, pants, shoes, looks in the sink, finally glances at the
ceiling, with no luck.

The Load IS MISSING!!!!

That’s when the doorbell RINGS. Ted couldn’t look more HORRIFIED.
As he buckles his pants, he makes a last, panicky reconnaissance
of the area. The doorbell RINGS AGAIN and Ted reluctantly goes to
answer it.

INT. TED’S HOTEL ROOM — SAME

Ted opens the door and Mary is standing there looking as lovely as
ever.

TED
Hey.

MARY
Hi, Ted.

TED
You look great.

MARY
Thanks.

She notices something.

MARY (cont’d)
What’s that?

TED
Hm?

MARY
On your ear, you’ve got something.

MARY’S POV — a HUGE LOAD is hanging off of Ted’s earlobe like a
drop earring.

MARY (cont’d)
It looks like a gob of…

Mary leans forward for a closer look. Ted is terrified.

MARY (cont’d)
(making face)
Is that….hair gel?

BEAT.

TED
Sure.

MARY
Oh great, I ran out.

Before Ted can stop her, Mary grabs The Load off his ear and WIPES
IT IN HER BANGS.

— —

INT. BAR — NIGHT

Ted’s rolling a little wine around in a glass. He takes a sip,
nods his approval.

TED
Thanks, that’s great.

The WAITER turns to Mary.

WAITER
Madame?

ANGLE ON MARY — The light, puffy bangs that Mary started the
night with are gone, replaced by a glazed, ACE VENTURA-STYLE WAVE
up front.

And now for the film version:

There are these comments by Cameron Diaz:

American actress Cameron Diaz has revealed that she was not in favor of doing the infamous hair gel scene in There’’s Something About Mary: “I didn’t want to do it because I was so worried it would discredit Mary,” Fox News quoted her as saying. “My agent and manager thought that doing this film was an insane move I was told it would be the end of my career,” Diaz said before the screening.

From a script written by Ed Decter and John J. Strauss, and Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly, There’s Something About Mary was a rarity for two reasons: (1) It was an R-rated comedy that grossed a ton of money ($369M worldwide) and (2) it made more money internationally than domestically. And I think the explanation for both is the fact that the humor is largely visual, this scene a case in point.

Comment Archive