This Movie Actually Exists: ‘Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd’
Shia LaBeouf is in 'Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.' He plays a high school student named Lewis who wears a horse costume. This is the most remarkable thing about the 2003 prequel to 1994’s 'Dumb and Dumber'—a prequel that the directors of the original film, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, had nothing to do with and actively despise.
I had mercifully never seen 'Dumb and Dumberer,' a movie that fans of the original movie (along with the rest of the world) rejected as a cheap knock off. (Though, somehow, 'Dumb and Dumberer' almost earned $40 million worldwide, which is about double its budget. Technically, 'Dumb and Dumberer' was a hit.) My 'Dumb and Dumberer' drought ended today, mostly because two people—me being one of them—agreed it might be a funny idea for me to watch it today before seeing this week's new sequel, 'Dumb and Dumber To.' I regret this decision.
I had never really thought much about my until-earlier-today lifelong streak of having never see 'Dumb and Dumberer,' but I wish I had. It was a nice streak that I never truly appreciated. It’s over now.
'Dumb and Dumber' is the movie that made Jim Carrey famous. He had gained a lot of attention for 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective' and 'The Mask,' but both of the roles were, well, ZANY!. Jim Carrey was destined to be a ZANY! guy. Look, it's not like Lloyd Christmas is on par with what we would see from Carrey later in 'The Truman Show' or 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' but there was a nuance (I promise I'm serious) to Carrey's performance that didn't just include ZANY. There was actually some acting here. And Carrey could get huge laughs just by saying, “Big Gulps, huh? All right. Well, see you later,” with no zane whatsoever.
After 'Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls,' Jim Carrey swore off sequels. (Well, until now.) So the prospects of a second 'Dumb and Dumber' movie with its two stars (Jeff Daniels seemed willing to return) looked fairly bleak. And it's hard to blame the studio, they watched their $17 million movie earn just under a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide. But Carrey, in the prime of his career – and, to be fair, rather wisely – decided to take some risks. Some worked—'The Truman Show' earned over $250 million and won Carrey a Golden Globe—and some didn't—'The Cable Guy' has earned that vaulted "cult" status today, but its box office failure and Carrey's outrageous-at-the-time $20 million salary earned Carrey his first round of negative press.
Undaunted by the lack of their stars, a money-grabbing prequel was made, telling us the origin story (of all dumb things) of how Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne met (I mean, it is in the title).
In 2012, I was speaking to Peter Farrelly, who was promoting 'The Three Stooges,' and he said this about 'Dumb and Dumberer':
They came to us and asked, 'Do you want to make a prequel?'And we said, 'Absolutely not.' Because every 16-year-old is dumb. The idea is that these guys are 45 and they're idiots. That's what is interesting to us … but I hold no ill-will against anybody in that movie. I want to make that very clear. But we just didn't want to do it.
He then added that the rights to the characters were pretty much out of their hands, “Because once you make the movie, they own it. Like how 'Airplane 2' got made—and that wasn't the Zucker brothers. Generally they don't go off and do that kind of thing, but, you now, they did. But, I get it. I wish they hadn't done it, but it's not something I lost sleep over."
To be fair to Peter Farrelly, he may have lost sleep if he had actually seen it.
Opening with a scene shot from the perspective of inside Harry's mother's vagina, the plot to 'Dumb and Dumberer' makes little sense. Eugene Levy (poor Eugene Levy, he deserves better) plays Principal Collins, who oversees the school that Lloyd and Harry both attend. Collins decides to swindle the government out of $100,000 by creating a fake special needs class, using students who don't have special needs. This way, Collins can purchase a property in Hawaii with the money that's not being used on that class. I'll hand it to the creative team behind 'Dumb and Dumberer,' they somehow made an 85-minute movie out of that paper-thin premise.
And that's really about it. Eric Christian Olsen and Derek Richardson play Lloyd and Harry and, sometimes, wind up doing pretty OK Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels impressions. Though, any time there's a close-up on Eric Christian Olsen's face, it's so obvious that he's just using a black mark to emulate Jim Carrey's actual chipped tooth that it just looks like he has food in his mouth.
I laughed once during the actual movie. At one point, Principal Collins kidnaps a student named Jessica (Rachel Nichols), a woman who both Lloyd and Harry share a romantic interest (in an almost embarrassing parallel in every way to the original movie). Jessica tells Collins that her parents will be expecting her home. Collins says, “That's nothing a call from the principal can't fix.” Smash cut, Collins is on the phone pretending to be Jessica's female friend. The rest of the movie is filled with poop jokes (yep, Harry has another incident in the bathroom) and jokes that are either legitimately offensive (homophobic slurs are used; this was 2003) or legitimately racist (there are multiple jokes made about Chinese dialects).
Somehow, 'Dumb and Dumberer' had a higher budget than the original movie. My only guess is that a lot of that money went to secure the rights to Vanilla Ice's 'Ice Ice Baby' and Air Supply's 'Making Love Out Of Nothing at All,' the latter is used as the background music for a very long montage of a lot of scenes we had just watched. I guess that 85-minutes run time had to be padded with something.
Bob Saget is also in this movie. Both of his scenes involve poop.
The most notable moment in 'Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd' comes during the end credits. As the credits roll, we get to see the hilarious outtakes from the production. During one of these, Shia LaBeouf, wearing a horse costume, accidentally trips and falls to the ground. As he's falling, he yells, “Oh, snap.” Part of me wants to just assume everything we know about LaBeouf today started at this moment. That somehow 'Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd' really is to blame for everything.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.