'Dumb and Dumber To' ReviewMatt Singer |
There is a lot of stuff that's dumb about 'Dumb and Dumber To,' but maybe the dumbest is that the movie got made at all. A sequel to a 20-year-old movie about two blundering idiots? That's just moronic.
If you're wondering if Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are too old to play Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, the braindead boobs they so memorably played in 1994's original 'Dumb and Dumber,' the answer is yes. That's also at least 15 percent of the joke in ‘Dumb and Dumber To.' If the sight of two thirtysomethings acting like immature jackasses is funny, the sight of two fiftysomethings acting like immature jackasses is downright perverse—and therefore even funnier. 20 years later, Harry and Lloyd haven't matured in the slightest. If anything, they've actually regressed. Their loss (of brain cells) is our gain (comically).
Let's make one thing clear right off the bat: Not everyone is going to laugh at this movie. If you didn't like Jim Carrey's antics 20 years ago, odds are he's not going to change your mind now. If goofy pratfalls, outrageous gross-out humor, and people doing absurd and profoundly foolish things to one another doesn't sound appealing, save your money. If you're too good to laugh at the sight of a cat pooping feathers, you should probably seek entertainment elsewhere. Don't go see this movie because I liked it and then send me a tweet complaining it was stupid. I'll tell you right now what I'd tweet back: "Yes, exactly." This movie is stupendously stupid.
Although 20 years have passed since the first film, 'Dumb and Dumber To' basically begins right where its predecessor left off. Our empty-headed heroes have spent the interim in a sort of two-decade holding pattern, the result of an elaborate prank played on Harry, by Lloyd, and when they emerge in the present, they have retained all of their quirks, ticks, bad haircuts, and obsessions with bodily functions. From there, they pay a visit to Lloyd's parents, where he learns he is adopted (the fact that his parents are Asian probably should have been a clue). That's bad luck for Harry, as it turns out his kidneys are failing and he desperately needs a transplant. Fortunately, he also learns that he has a daughter he's never met (Rachel Melvin), and after tracking down her mom (a very game Kathleen Turner), the intrepid/ignorant duo set off on the road to find Harry's next-of-kin (and next-of-kidney).
The early scenes are easily 'Dumb and Dumber To''s worst; there are a lot of moving parts to get into place, and some misguided racial humor with Harry's parents falls completely flat. But once the film becomes a road-trip comedy—and basically starts ripping off the original 'Dumb and Dumber'—the jokes start to come faster and bigger. Harry and Lloyd also pick up a very effective comic foil in the form of Rob Riggle, who joins them on the hunt for Harry's daughter and gets caught in an ill-advised prank war with his riding buddies.
Most of the plot might be rehashed from the original movie (Harry and Lloyd off on a confused adventure in search of a beautiful young woman while trailed by a man who might want to kill them), and there are probably too many callbacks (even Billy, the blind kid Lloyd sold a dead parakeet to 20 years ago, has a fairly substantial supporting role), but the gags themselves are surprisingly fresh. Describing them would also spoil them, so let's leave the discussion of the film's humor (which, again, may not be to everyone's tastes) to this: No Hollywood movie since 'Anchorman 2' has had laughs this big. A few comedies have worked more consistently (like 'Neighbors'), but none have rivaled 'Dumb and Dumber' in terms of laugh-until-you-cry gut-busters.
Much of the credit for that goes to Carrey and Daniels who remain almost pathologically committed to Harry and Lloyd's stupidity. They possess the two crucial qualities for any physical comedian: fearlessness and shamelessness, and their hard work finds laughs even in the weaker material. (Carrey turns the simple act of eating a hot dog into a physical-comedy clinic.) The stars also deserve credit for not Botoxing their faces into oblivion in the last twenty years. Both remain wonderfully, goofily expressive; if anything, Carrey's mug looks even more rubbery than in 1995.
It would be a fool's errand to try to ascribe some kind of larger meaning or significance to 'Dumb and Dumber To' beyond its ample comedic value. But let it be said that Peter and Bobby Farrelly, brothers who have worked together for their entire adult lives, have once again crafted an affectionate tribute to brotherhood (Harry and Lloyd aren't related, but they're clearly partners for life). The Farrellys' place at the top of the Hollywood comedy food chain has been stolen in recent years by Judd Apatow, but rather than try to mimic his style, they stuck to the guns and made a good old-fashioned throwback to their raunchy '90s comedies. It's way funnier than it has any right to be, and compared to the dreadful prequel 'Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd,' it's practically 'Last Year at Marienbad.' 'Dumb and Dumber To' is a Farrelly brothers movie through and througher.