Rhode Island Scholars
By Devin D. O'Leary
SEPTEMBER 7, 1999: Beginning this week, audiences will get to see the infamous Farrelly brothers (There's Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber) in a whole new light. Sweet, nostalgic, poignant -- those aren't exactly words that have been used to describe the boys who put the Dippity in Cameron Diaz's Do. The release of their newest film, Outside Providence, may just change all that.
Based on a novel by Peter Farrelly and drawn loosely from the screenwriting siblings' childhood growing up in Rhode Island, Outside Providence tells a hilarious but surprisingly heartfelt coming-of-age tale. Working-class teen Tim Dunphy (Shawn Hatosy) lives in the depressed industrial backwater of Pawtucket, R.I., and is saddled with a grumpy dad (Alec Baldwin), a three-legged dog (lest you forget entirely that this is a Farrelly film) and a pack of troublesome pals. After crashing into a parked car one drug-addled night, Tim finds himself shipped off to a snooty prep school. Severely outclassed, outnumbered and out of place, Tim nonetheless lands himself an upscale sweetheart (Amy Smart) and manages to do a little growing up.
Weekly Alibi recently chatted with the film's hot young stars Shawn Hatosy (The Faculty, In & Out, Inventing the Abbots) and Amy Smart (Varsity Blues, Starship Troopers, The Last Time I Committed Suicide).
Amy: Actually, we didn't. It didn't read exactly like a Farrelly brothers film.
Shawn: This was also before There's Something About Mary. They were still the Farrelly brothers, but they weren't the Farrelly brothers that they are now. Their name's on the script, but I just didn't even pay attention.
Shawn: Well, then it was, like, "Wow! We're working with the Farrelly brothers!"
Shawn: It really is. That's what's so nice about it. It's a new kind of venture for them. It just shows that they can be normal -- because they are pretty normal guys. They're real nice and kinda family-oriented.
Amy: I grew up in Los Angeles.
Shawn: I'm from Maryland.
Amy: Yeah, we shot the whole thing right in Providence.
Amy: Yeah, pretty much.
Shawn: It makes it a lot easier to feel -- I mean if you're gonna do a movie about New York, you should do it in New York. [The Providence area] sort of plays its own character in the movie. And the director, Michael Corrente, knows that area so well. Not only that, but it also helps me with the accent.
Shawn: That was my preparation. That was what they told us to do.
Shawn: It was pretty familiar, and I was with Michael [Corrente]. Michael in that town is like the Godfather, in a way. Because it's such a small city, everybody knows everybody. With him taking me around, it was like the president or the mayor hanging around with me. No, I wasn't threatened at all. But there were some seedy characters.
Amy: It was a lot different. In Providence they have fall. And every season in L.A. it's pretty much sunny. It definitely helped being in Providence feeling that whole vibe. Obviously my character wasn't from Providence. But I did have friends who went to boarding school and who helped me with that character a little. It was a fun place to be.
Shawn: I don't think so. I see too many similar things going on. As far as relationships with the father and the friends and the girl -- that's all the same. The only thing we deal with that's different is the wardrobe.
Amy: And the music we like anyway, the classic rock. So that wasn't too much of a stretch from our own personalities.
Shawn: Yeah, but that was the big draw to it. To be able to actually do the things that [Tim] Dunphy does and to portray it to other people. Even for older people, because they can sit back and say, "Wow, I remember what that was like." And then for younger people to see it and say, "Whoa. I get to look forward to that." It is very truthful.
Amy: This sort of came before all the huge hype of teenage films. I think we were really lucky, because it looks like an independent film. It has a real-life feel to it, as opposed to this over-the-top, wacky, commercial-type movie.
Shawn: Right. And we didn't have anybody telling us the formula of making a teen movie. We didn't have a studio behind us saying, "Well, it's gotta be like this -- that's what the demographic tells us." We got to make an independent film. We didn't have anybody breathing down our necks. Except for the Farrelly brothers.
Amy: No. We're doing one in Rhode Island.
Amy: I think they're gonna love it.
Shawn: Oh, I think they're gonna really love it.
Shawn: Yeah, they do. ... How could they not?
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