DUMB AND DUMBER TO
** (out of 5)
November 14, 2014
Jim Carrey as LLOYD CHRISTMAS
Jeff Daniels as HARRY DUNNE
Rob Riggle as TRAVIS
Laurie Holden as ADELE
Rachel Melvin as PENNY
Steve Tom as DR. PINCHELO
Kathleen Turner as FRAIDA FELCHER
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Sometimes people lose their edge. It happened to Adam Sandler, as one of the best examples. Twenty years ago, this guy was killing it on “Saturday Night Live,” leading into a pretty awesome movie career with some hilariously sophomoric films like “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore.” Fast-forward a couple decades, and he’s crapping out dreck like “Jack and Jill” and the painful “Grown-Ups” franchise.
The same thing happened to the Farrelly Brothers. They were the kings of 90s comedies, filling their directors’ cards with movies like “Dumb and Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary” and “Kingpin.” However, the 2000s have been really rough on them, leaving us with recent attempts like “Hall Pass” and “The Three Stooges.”
When you’re desperate, you make desperate movies, and this is exactly what “Dumb and Dumber To” is.
Forget the fact that there was a sequel (or rather, a prequel) to this film made in 2003 already. Everyone wants to sweep that one under the rug, especially considering no one from the original film was involved in a creative way on that film. The brothers got the original cast of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels back together to give a proper sequel. Unfortunately, this is an example of comedy happening too little too late.
In this new film, Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) are reunited after twenty years. When Harry discovers that he had gotten Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner) pregnant in the early 1990s, he goes on a search for his long, lost daughter. Of course, there’s a catch because Lloyd also needs a kidney, and a blood relative is the greatest opportunity for a match. This leads them on a cross-country trip to find her, at a genius-level tech conference of course.
It’s not that nothing is funny in this movie. There are several jokes that work well, and quite a few slapstick moments that remind us of the comedy gold that was the original movie. However, there’s an air of desperation about this film, not just by the directors but by Jim Carrey as well. (After all, when was the last bona fide hit this guy had?) The only one who seems comfortably committed in the entire movie is Jeff Daniels, who incidentally stole the show in the original film. He’s not trying too hard the way Carrey is, but rather just enjoying the time to act out of control, in contrast to other roles like Will McAvoy in “The Newsroom.”
It’s not uncommon for a sequel to not feel as fresh as the original, but throw in twenty years of disparate careers into the mix, and you get a movie that needs to go back to training wheels. Or perhaps the joke just doesn’t play as well now.
After all, the entire premise of “Dumb and Dumber” was to poke fun at the mentally challenged. It’s one of those types of comedy that played funny in 1994 but seems a bit too mean-spirited now. And the Farrellys casting retarded citizens in films like “There’s Something About Mary” and even in this film doesn’t work as an excuse. Instead, it plays like someone saying, “I’m not racist! I voted for Obama!”
Throughout most of their career, the Farrellys’ comedy relied on poking fun at some group of people. The mentally challenged in “Dumb and Dumber,” the Amish in “Kingpin,” schizophrenics in “My, Myself and Irene,” conjoined twins in “Stuck on You,” and fat people in “Shallow Hal.” Maybe their comedy has run its course just as Kevin Smith’s homophobic jabs and dick-and-fart jokes have in his movies.
Still, mean-spirited comedy aside, “Dumb and Dumber To” just doesn’t stick the landing. It gives an effort, and had this come out in 1996, it probably would have been a much better film. However, in 2014, it just feels like a guy in his 40s hitting on young girls at a bar with the same lines he used in college.