Synopsis: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise their signature roles as Lloyd and Harry in the sequel to the smash hit that took the physical comedy and kicked it in the nuts: Dumb and Dumber To. The original film’s directors, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, take Lloyd and Harry on a road trip to find a child Harry never knew he had and the responsibility neither should ever, ever be given. Along for the ride are co-stars Kathleen Turner, Laurie Holden, and Rob Riggle.
eyelights: it didn’t suk.
eyesores: the gurl playing there dawter. the therd akt’s reduced numbur of laffs.
“Wanna hear the second most annoying sound in the world?”
I was never going to see ‘Dumb and Dumber To’. I hated the title. And I didn’t even like the original to start with. But my local library got a copy in its collection and, when I saw it, I figured I might as well – I was going through a bunch of Jim Carrey films anyway, and I’m nothing if not a completist (with some exceptions: for instance, I don’t think I can ever watch the miserably stupid ‘Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls’ ever again!).
And you know what? I was pleasantly surprised.
While ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ is no great film, It benefits from one thing that the original didn’t: filmmaking experience. You see, ‘Dumb and Dumber‘ was the Farelly Brothers’ very first motion picture. And it shows. It has pacing issues, it doesn’t fully take advantage of its gags and it makes rookie mistake. But ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ doesn’t have that problem. Yes, it’s still moronic, but at least it’s made by competent morons.
The belated 2014 sequel (it was released twenty years after its predecessor and has no relation to ‘Dumb and Dumberer’, which was made without the originals’ participants’ involvement) finds our two dummies, Harry and Lloyd on a road trip to find Harry’s illegitimate daughter, who he discovered was put up for adoption in 1991. As with the original, they wind up in all sorts of crass and blatantly stupid misadventures along the way.
It’s pointless to discuss the gags of a picture such as this one, seeing as the element of surprise is at the heart of much of its humour (i.e. you have to underestimate just how dumb these guys are and be stunned at their sheer idiocy). One has to be prepared to laugh at people misunderstanding the obvious, misusing language, coming to the wrong conclusions, acting selfishly, and even cherish stupid behaviour to enjoy this.
In the right frame of mind, I certainly can. While I find the ‘Dumb and Dumber’ films less original and deliriously quirky (being instead just really stupid) than the Farellys’ other films, I got a kick out of watching a couple of fifty-year-olds act like mentally-deficient teenagers for two hours. Of course they’re fictional characters: real people acting this way would be downright pathetic (on the same principle as cartoon violence versus real violence).
Bizarrely, my initial criticisms of the picture came at the expense of Jim Carrey, who wore a terrible wig in some scenes, looking ragged. It was astonishing to see just how much he and Jeff Daniel aged in twenty years (and here I thought Hollywood folks looked young forever). It doesn’t always show, interestingly enough, but sometimes it’s absolutely staggering, when they had deep ridges in their faces. It was wildly inconsistent.
The other issue is that the filmmakers recycled jokes from obvious sources, such as:
- Larry is giving Harry a lift on the back of his bike, to take him to see his parents. Just as they get their road trip on the way, however, they arrive at destination: it’s the next block. I don’t remember which film this is from right now, but it’s a picture I’ve seen many times before.
- Harry asks his parents about donating a kidney to him, and they reveal to him that he’s adopted. His parents are of eastern Asian origin, but he had never noticed before. This obviously comes from ‘The Jerk‘, in which Steve Martin’s character was adopted by African-Americans.
- Harry is shown in his teens, putting peanut butter on his balls to get his dog to lick him. This is a concept that is pulled straight out of ‘Road Trip‘ – and which is, in fact, one of its most memorable gags.
Now, I realize that much of our culture is built on the back of our cultural heritage and that nothing is truly original; we’re constantly riffing off something else. But it was astonishing to see such blatant rip offs as these in such a large-scale, big-budget movie. Weren’t there script advisors on hand to point these things out or even anyone on the crew who could speak up to say “Yeah, that gag was really good the first time I saw it”?
My other reflections on ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ pertain to the cast, which was equivalent to the previous picture’s in some respects. The key difference comes on two front, firstly with the choice of Rachel Melvin as Harry’s daughter. She’s supposed to also be an idiot, so she’s prone to doing and saying stupid things. But Melvin isn’t especially good at either, showing little flair for comedy or acting here. So… who cast her and why?
The second interesting casting choice is Kathleen Turner as Fraida Felcher – if only because she’s virtually unrecognizable now, after years of health issues and bouts of alcoholism. Man, what a growl her voice has turned into (Too much whisky? Too many cigarettes? Both?). After seeing her in ‘The Man With Two Brains’ just the night before, it was shocking. Also shocking is her slam of Laurie Holden at the end; it was brutal, ferocious.
Otherwise, ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ was very much more of the same as the original, but with a sure hand at the helm and less of a gross-out picture bent (or is that brand of humour just less shocking now)? I wouldn’t call it a great comedy, but I certainly enjoyed it more than I expected to. Which doesn’t mean that I’m looking forward to ‘Dumb and Dumber For’, expected in 2034. Although, I would be curious to see Harry and Lloyd as seniors…
Date of viewing: June 14, 2015