Bobby and Peter Farrelly are known for pushing the comedic envelope in films like Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary. With their latest film The Heartbreak Kid, a remake of the 1972 classic, they've pulled out all the stops, and hope to bust up a few more taboos in the process. However, anyone afraid that they'll stray from their formula needn't worry, as the film is straight-up Farrelly. Longtime fans of the brothers' films will immediately notice the return of long-time Farrelly cohort Ben Stiller in their latest offering. The brothers note that Stiller's likeability made him easy to bring back for another project.
"When we made There's Something About Mary," says Bobby. "It's like we spent a lot of time trying to establish what it is about the character that Ben Stiller was playing that makes you like him enough that he can hang his own load of sperm on his ear and you're still going to like him."
The Farrellys' films typically feature many embarassing moments for the lead, designed to endear them to the audience.
"When you look at our movies," adds Peter. "If we don't have those moments where you really, really like the guy, the movies don't work."
In the new film, what they hope to be the main draw are the comical sex scenes. Ben plays the romantic lead who marries, but finds his true love while honeymooning in Mexico.
"They go on their honeymoon," says Bobby. "The first couple of times they sleep together are those scenes you're going to be talking about long afterwards because I think it's sort of groundbreaking and that there really hasn't been a sex comedy like this. And we have outright nudity and very funny stuff happening with nude people which you don't see a lot."
The pair have made several films together, most recently teaming to write and direct 2003's Stuck On You and to direct 2005's Fever Pitch. They are known for their unique, off-beat style, which typically puts likable protagonists in grotesquely hilarious situations. The brothers got into writing films almost by accident.
"We just got into writing sort of out of the blue and got a book," says Peter. "We never went to film school, although I went back to school for creative writing. But we really went out, got a book called Screenplay by Syd Field, looked at the format and just decided to write our movie. [We] took a few weeks, wrote one and unbelievably it sold. That's how we kind of got into it."
The brothers' upbringing played a large part in shaping their comedic styles. They note that television was much more of an influence on them than film.
"Our influences really were not film," notes Peter. "We didn't go to a lot of movies growing up. You got to a movie every six months or so, but [television] was what influenced us more. I would say the Three Stooges, that type of comedy we were really big fans of. And the Andy Griffith Show."
Despite their fame, the Farrellys are ever-aware of the shelf life of comedy. Peter and Bobby are hopeful that future audiences will discover their films and enjoy them.
"Comedy changes so much every year," says Bobby. "If you look back what was funny in the '40s, a lot of it is not funny now. It's just not. But occasionally, there was a comedy that lasts and it's usually because of physical comedy. It seems that physical comedy ages better than verbal repartee. The verbal banter of one generation, like if you just watch Saturday Night Live from 1975 or 1976 when it was the funniest thing on the universe. Now you're looking at it and it doesn't seem that funny. It's because standards change. They were doing things that people weren't used to seeing that struck them as funny but after seeing it for the next 30 years, it isn't as funny. I would be very happy if in 150 [years], any of our movies survived enough to make one person curl their lip into a smile."