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THE HEARTBREAK KID

There's Something About The Farrelly Brothers
Peter and Bobby Farrelly began their careers as salesmen: Peter worked for a shipping line and Bobby invented a round beach towel called Sun Spot that allowed sunbathers to change position as the sun moved without repositioning their towels. (P.S. - It wasn't a big seller.)

Neither brother has ever taken a class in screenwriting or directing (though Peter has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University). Instead, the siblings' filmmaking passion was fueled by dissatisfaction with what they were seeing in the theaters. "We used to go to the movies and we'd come out and say why didn't they do it this way?” recalls Bobby.

Their first efforts at screenwriting were a little too "non-mainstream,” according to Bobby, and the major movie studios showed no interest in them until they made their first low-budget independent movie, "Dumb and Dumber.” "Everyone in town had already passed on it. They said we'd never get stars to play such dumb guys,” says Bobby. "Agents didn't want to give it to their actors. But we thought, ‘It's funny and we'll make it cheap' and we cast ourselves as directors. We didn't know what we were doing, but we were lucky enough to get Jim Carrey interested and his career just happened to be taking off. Somewhere along the way they forgot to fire us.”

The comedy, which starred Carrey and Jeff Daniels as a pair of likable half-wits on a cross-country adventure, grossed more than $340 million worldwide and helped the filmmakers develop a loyal audience for their boyish humor, outlandish characters and sweet, but raunchy, comedy.

The Farrellys say that they rarely butt heads during a production, perhaps because they each have defined roles in the filmmaking process: Bobby is more likely to be found behind the monitor checking for the perfect shot, while Peter works with the actors to get the perfect take.

"Peter and I have always worked together,” says Bobby. "We don't really know any other way, and we never look at it like we're competing with each other, or say, ‘Jeez, I wish I got to do that.' We throw ego aside and say, there's two of us here, and hopefully between the two of us we can make it better than either one of us would have done alone.”

While the number of successful directing teams can probably be counted on one hand with fingers to spare, according to Peter there is strength in numbers, especially when your films tend to push the comedic envelope: "People sometimes ask ‘can you really do that?' And when you hear that question enough, you start to think ‘am I crazy? What am I doing?' But when you have someone by your side who's in agreement with you, you hold each other up. That's the real advantage we have.”

Stiller says working with the brothers is like no other experience in the movie business. "It's like a party a lot of the time. They are very loose and they like to have a good time. They're very sweet guys who love to laugh and they have this sort of connection as brothers where they know how to finish each other's sentences. They are on the same wavelength.”

While most of the brothers' onscreen jokes are carefully planned out, the directors also are open to improvisation and spontaneity, which creates an atmosphere of camaraderie - and no-holds-barred hijinks - on the set.

"They like to show their private parts,” says Stiller. "They derive a lot of pleasure from that. Now, certain people can go to jail for that, but on a Farrelly brothers' movie you really can't not have that happen to you. They have this joke where they're like, ‘Do you know what time it is?' And something's sticking out of their pants.”

Once the cameras start to roll, however, the Farrellys are all business. "That's when they really do what they do best,” continues Stiller. "Sometimes they'll thro

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