Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels Get Dumb Again
Dumb and Dumber To
Review by Daniel Rester
Ready to get stupid again? Dumb and Dumber is very close to turning 20, and fans are fiiiiiiinally getting a sequel. Let’s just forget about that atrocious prequel made in 2003; chances are you probably already have. This is the real Dumb and Dumb sequel, with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels returning to the iconic brainless characters of Lloyd and Harry. I’m happy to report that the return is worthy and not the train wreck that some feared.
After Lloyd (Carrey) pulls off a joke on Harry (Daniels) that was twenty years in the making, the two return to their apartment. While there, Harry reveals that is dying due to kidney failure. When the goofballs learn that Harry may have a daughter, they set out on a cross-country journey to find her and convince her to give Harry a kidney.
Dumb and Dumber To brings Bobby and Peter Farrelly back as the directors, with them also serving as two of the six (!) screenwriters for the film. The brothers scored with Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary (1998), but their work has been mostly unsatisfying since then. It’s nice to see them return to old-school form with this sequel, and the same can be said of Carrey. The whole thing just feels like a throwback to the sillier side of 90s comedy, which will sit well with some and not be to the liking of others.
The sequel uses the plot – which also involves two villains played by Laurie Holden and Rob Riggle and an old flame of Harry’s played by Kathleen Turner – mainly as an excuse for Carrey and Daniels to just go nuts with the ridiculous brand of comedy. And they sure do. The two actors step back into the roles like they never left them, bringing the heart and extreme stupidity of Lloyd and Harry back in fine form. I suspect that fans of the original film will agree that the chemistry and spark between the actors and characters are still there.
In an era littered with clichéd romantic comedies and Judd Apatow-and-company comedies mostly based around vulgarity and penis jokes (though some of the Apatow films are great), it’s nice to get a film that harkens back to that special age of 90s comedy that mostly relied on silliness and slapstick. Dumb and Dumber To has a number of weak jokes that rely on toilet humor and just fall flat (including a farting game in a car, a cat farting bird feathers, a guy putting peanut butter on his genitals and inviting a dog in the room, an old woman seeking sexual attention, etc.). But it also has a bunch of jokes that come out at a machine-gun rate and really stick.
The dialogue (though not much of it memorable) is pretty funny, but it’s the constant little actions and looks from Carrey and Daniels that work best. The Farrelly brothers wisely employ many situations that use a joke and then end it there. This allows Carrey and Daniels to dish out a variety of laughs without having to constantly go back to run-on gags. This method of throwing so many different jokes on the screen is risky, but I felt that more hit than missed. The constant changes in location (as Harry and Lloyd journey across America again) and the assorted jokes also help with the pacing.
The first two acts work much better than the third. These sections mostly rely on Carrey and Daniels doing their thing, where the third part brings in more focus on the plot and side characters (though the two actors remain in the spotlight). The plot has a few good surprises, but trying to make us care too much about it at the end was a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, I love great plots in films, but there are films that need the great plots and others that should just rely on the actors. This one should have just relied on the two lead actors all the way through.
The supporting cast is okay. Riggle is decent playing two villainous henchmen who are twins, but Holden feels out of place among the supporting players. Turner comes up best in the supporting field and is clearly having fun in her shared scenes with Carrey and Daniels. We also get the return of Brady Bluhm as Billy, Lloyd and Harry’s neighbor who loves birds; his appearance is one of a few nods to the original film.
When all is said and done though, this is Carrey and Daniels’ show. Carrey gives a performance in tune with the nuttiness of his early work (he hasn’t been this funny in years), and Daniels is equally as good in a role that always seemed separated from the actor’s other career choices. Whether blowing up a hotel room with fireworks or devising a plan to get free beers, the characters always pop due to the liveliness of the two actors. A scene involving Carrey and two Korean people and another involving him and a dog particularly had me laughing out loud.
Dumb and Dumber To is a quick and silly lowbrow comedy that involves myriad – you guessed it – dumb moments. Those seeking intellectually-stimulating humor or modern comedy tropes like constant cameos, pop culture references, and dick jokes may be disappointed. I easily admit the film certainly isn’t for all tastes, but neither was the first one really. This one is for the fans. And as a fan of the original Dumb and Dumber, this sequel didn’t let me down. In the words of Lloyd: “I like it a lot.”
Score: 3 out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: B).
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references).
Runtime: 1 hour and 50 minutes.
U.S. Release Date: November 14th, 2014.