Before the hit movie THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, Peter Farrelly wrote a novel called OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE. The story was drawn from his own experiences growing up in Rhode Island in the 70s. Apparently, that life included copious amounts of pot smoking and tomfoolery. Years later, after the success of MARY, Farrelly dusted off this novel and adapted it into a screenplay, now produced and released by Miramax Films.
Following the same formula as MARY, a seeming innocent explores forbidden, and usually gross, forms of humor. Timothy Dunphy (Shawn Hatosy) is always in trouble with his father (Alec Baldwin) in the mid 1970s. After crashing into a parked police car, Timothy is packed off to boarding school, where he’s out of place, outclassed and outnumbered. He can’t compete with his high bred counterparts. Nevertheless, he finds like-minded friends and soon they are hiding under a willow tree smoking dope.
Soon, he meets Jane Weston (Amy Smart), and they become a couple, mainly studying together and smoking more dope together. At boarding school, Timothy doesn’t become more responsible, but he does become a little wiser. He outwits the Resident Assistant, appeals to the Brown University Admissions Board to let in Jane, studies a little harder due to Jane’s pleading, befriends his effeminate whiny roommate, and gets a little closer to his widowed father.
OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE doesn’t have much of a story, but it does have lots of likeable characters. As far as audience appeal, this movie rises above the very weak DETROIT ROCK CITY which covers the same territory – teenage rebellion. Each character is well defined and has his own charm. Nevertheless, despite a veneer of innocence and fun, this is a rough group – always smoking pot and always getting into trouble. At the end, rules still aren’t respected, but some character growth occurs – some.
The very vulgar Alec Baldwin as a gruff but loving father may put off moral audiences. Baldwin constantly calls Timothy a nickname – a reference to a sexual toy – and this term is continually annoying. Another scene has George Wendt (of CHEERS fame) outing himself as a homosexual to his poker playing buddies. It is quite an extraneous scene – not necessary to the main action. Furthermore, it seems that every third scene or so has Timothy lighting up marijuana. Strangely, many nostalgic movies that look at the 70s seem to demand obligatory marijuana use.
OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE seems to be going after the same crowd as MARY, but its low budget, darker themes and photography and lack of stars may contribute to its under-performance. It functions primarily as a pet project for Peter Farrelly, while perhaps encouraging vulnerable youths to light up and rebel.
Strong pagan worldview of rebellious, pot smoking teenagers with some moral elements including man comes to show more love & respect to son, & a positive but irreverent explanation of the "Footprints" poem; 73 obscenities, 6 profanities & 16 uses of a vulgar nickname; moderate violence including car hits parked cop car, father slaps son, baseball hits man, man burns hand on hot metal doorknob, threats to throw man off roof; heavy kissing, implied masturbation & sexually suggestive dialogue; upper male nudity & women in bikini; underage alcohol use & abuse; smoking & constant marijuana use; and, rebellion, vomiting scene.