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How can you not love Mary Katherine Gallagher?
on July 8, 2007
The real Superstar is Molly Shannon, who never gets enough credit for her comedic and bona fide acting skills. It's great to have the always-funny Will Ferrell (as well as Harland Williams, one of my favorite comics) alongside her for the ride, but her portrayal of Mary Katherine Gallagher is all you really need to laugh it up for the 80 or so minutes of this SNL skit - turned full-fledged movie. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be one of the lucky people who were always cool and made great sport of putting the Mary Katherine Gallaghers of the world down. I'll never know because Mary Katherine is definitely "my people," a unique character who suffers the insults and humiliations of life among her cooler, prettier peers even as she dreams of having just a taste of the kind of life they take for granted. In the context of this movie, what Mary Katherine yearns for is a real slobber-knocker of a kiss - and, like all of us losers, she falls for the most popular guy/girl in school. In other words, she does not have an easy row to hoe.
She is realistic enough to realize that the likes of Sky Corrigan (Ferrell) isn't going to drop the head cheerleader and come smooching her way any time soon (even after he tells her she has some nice moves). No, she thinks the only way she can get the hunky guy is to emulate her Hollywood heroines and become a - wait for it - Superstar! And just when she thinks she's exhausted all of her options, along comes a school talent show (with the winner getting the part of an extra in a morally positive film in Hollywood) that just might be the answer to her prayers. Winning the talent show would definitely impress Sky, she tells herself.
To make her dreams come true, she's going to have to talk her grandmother into letting her audition, scratch and claw her way through a catfight or two with the head cheerleader (who also happens to be Sky's girlfriend), and overcome several other less than surprising obstacles in her way. She does have some help, though - from her fellow Special Education students, her new best friend, and even her own personal image of Jesus (also played by Will Ferrell).
Yes, it's oftentimes low-brow humor, especially in terms of the whole armpit thing, but somehow Mary Katherine's story always manages to remain above the fray of tastelessness and vapidity. There's a little (or maybe even a lot) of Mary Katherine Gallagher in many of us, and there is actually a good story in here beyond all of the jokes. The filmmakers even manage to pull off a really good ending without insulting our intelligence. This is just a fine, really funny movie.