Though his formal education had little to do with film or writing, Bobby Farrelly joined his older writer brother Peter Farrelly to become one of the top purveyors of low comedy. Raised in Cumberland, Rhode Island, Bobby graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and attempted an entrepreneurial career in marketing the first round beach towel. Collaborating with his brother eventually proved to be more lucrative, although they spent nine years churning out screenplays before one, Dumb and Dumber, finally got produced.
With Bobby serving as co-producer and co-writer, Dumb and Dumber (1994) became a blockbuster hit, confirming Jim Carrey's comic superstar status and introducing movie audiences to the Farrelly mix of gleeful vulgarity and romantic sweetness. Bobby joined Peter as co-director as on their next effort, the less popular Amish bowling opus Kingpin (1996). The Farrellys truly came into their own as outré artistes with their third film, There's Something About Mary (1998). Peppered with politically incorrect humor and extraordinary physical sight gags, the sincerely charming romance between Cameron Diaz's captivating Mary and Ben Stiller's besotted admirer became one of the top hits of 1998. Along with critical kudos, There's Something About Mary won the New York Film Critics' prize for Best Actress and several MTV Movie Awards. Taking a hiatus from outrageousness, the Farrellys co-scripted and produced the screen adaptation of Peter's first novel, the mellower coming of age story Outside Providence (1999). Bobby and Peter returned to their signature style, however, with the Jim Carrey split-personality vehicle, Me, Myself & Irene (2000). Though it performed moderately well and pleased longtime fans of the Farrelley's patented off-color brand of humor, many say the film as a step-sideways instead of forward, not really expanding on their style in the way the the breakthrough Mary did.
Moving on to their next project, the Farrelly's moved into animation (with a little live action thrown in the mix as well) with Osmosis Jones in 2001. Utilizing such popular comic talents as Chris Rock for voice work, alonside Bill Murray and Farrelly Brother's favorite Chris Elliot for the live-action segments, Osmosis Jones was visually inventive and internalized the body-fluid type humor that had brought the Farrelly's previous success with the clever tale of a white blood cell cop (Rock) out to prevent a viral invasionfrom the body that it protects (Murray). The Farrelly's next project, Shallow Hal took the plot of Mary and turned it on its head with the tale of a shallow guy (Jack Black) hopelessly in love with a 300 pound woman after falling for her inner beauty.
After Carrey's outrageous split personality performance in Me, Myself & Irene failed to win over as many critics or viewers as Mary, Farrelly and Peter turned their attention to several projects released in 2001. Following a producing stint on their former protégé J.B. Rogers' forgettable incest romp Say It Isn't So (2001), the brothers directed the summer movie Osmosis Jones (2001). Mixing live action and animation à la Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), Osmosis Jones reveled in the Farrellys' customary--and apposite--gross bodily humor, as Chris Rock's white blood cell takes on virus Laurence Fishburne in slob Bill Murray's innards. Despite its stars and some positive notice, however, Osmosis Jones flopped. Their higher profile comedy Shallow Hal (2001), starring Jack Black as a once-puerile man smitten by corpulent Gwyneth Paltrow's glamorous inner beauty, received a decidedly mixed response to its unsteady merger of earnest romance and fat jokes.