review for Outside Providence on AllMovie

Outside Providence (1999)
by Adam Goldberg review

Based on the novel by Peter Farrelly, Outside Providence combines the patented Farrelly brand of edgy humor with a gentle and surprisingly effective coming-of-age tale. Those expecting a Dumb and Dumber idiot-fest or a vulgar opus like There's Something About Mary may be disappointed with this effort. Director Michael Corrente and the Farrelly brothers have crafted a more saccharine and poignant story that does not rely on their trademark bathroom humor. The strength of Outside Providence comes from the assortment of vivid characters that are always treated with sympathy and humor. Alec Baldwin plays against type and gives one of the most memorable performances of his career. Baldwin skillfully shows that beneath the crude facade of his character lies a damaged man that loves his children with all his heart. The low-budget effort does tend to drag, however, and often seems like a pointless series of marijuana-smoking episodes. The narrative also loses considerable steam when the death of a minor character is made into a major melodramatic moment, but the delicate writing and wonderful acting still keep the story moving. Outside Providence is a far cry from the typical assortment of sticky Farrelly gags; it's a bittersweet and realistic tale adapted from brother Peter's gritty 1988 comic novel.