Dumb and Dumber To (2014) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
11Feb/152

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

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Those loveable idiots, Harry and Lloyd, are back in Dumb and Dumber To.  After spending the last twenty years in an asylum, Lloyd finally goes back to his real life to help Harry meet the daughter he never knew.  Dumb and Dumber To is directed by the Farrelly brothers and stars Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey.

There's an indiction of how this is going to goBeen reading a lot about ageism lately as different artistic groups - be they musical, comedic, cinematic - are either reuniting or producing work for the first time in years.  This has been especially true of Clint Eastwood, whose American Sniper (and, trust me, I'll be writing about it) has faced some accusations of being tone-deaf due to his age.  Considering American Sniper came out in the same year as Goodbye to Language and Sidney Lumet left this world with the magnificent Before the Devil Knows You're Dead in 2007, accusations of "losing it" due to age feel at best premature and at worst ageist.  Comedy isn't immune to this perception either, but Mel Brooks just got done with the well-received Live At The Geffen, so even his advancing age can't stop the yuks coming.

So consider the easy criticisms in advance of Dumb and Dumber To.  Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) have spent so long outside straight comedy that they may have lost the spark which made them such a potent duo.  Harry and Lloyd may not have the cultural clout of Abbott and Costello or the Marx Bros., but their comedy left such a strong mark on our collective cultural psyche that they maybe deserve a chance to give it another go.  It's not desperation which brings them back together considering they've both continued to have success in the twenty years since Dumb and Dumber, just a wish to recapture some of that old magic.

The best, and sadly only positive, thing I can say about Dumb and Dumber To is they haven't lost that spark.  Part of what made the original so memorable is these two doofuses really cared about each other and just went about expressing their affection in the worst way possible.  The sequel remembers this in exactly one scene where the triumphant duo is reunited with their dog grooming mini-van only to have it collapse into dozens of pieces after its first spin.

Harry and Lloyd have gone from well-meaning instruments of accidental destruction to outright selfish jerks.

Harry and Lloyd have gone from well-meaning instruments of accidental destruction to outright selfish jerks.

In a smarter movie, this would show nostalgia is a tricky beast to recapture and will almost always disappoint the participants in the end.  For Dumb and Dumber To it's one of the few jokes that isn't either a warmed-over retread of what the '94 film already did, or turns the affection Harry and Lloyd shared toward each other into an insulting weapon against the otherwise well-meaning people who cross their paths.  Dumb and Dumber To is mean, pushes Harry and Lloyd beyond the affable idiots they once were, and scores nary a laugh in the process.

Consider, if you will, the case of the poor boy who received a bird with its head duct-taped back on in the original film.  In the sequel the kid has grown up to become a man - a man who Harry and Lloyd scare for no reason before leaving their predatory cat in the poor kid's apartment.  The cat murders all the kid's birds in a reveal that is not gradual, but a sudden cut after the dumb duo tells the audience where they left the cat.  This isn't comedy, this is a crime scene, and the sight of all those murdered birds left me feeling sad.

The Farrelly brothers used to be able to pace a joke.  The duct-taped bird reveal earlier was a slow pan to the sight of this poor kid who thought he had a pet.  But the smash cut to the murdered birds of the sequel is a template for the way the humor is paced in Dumb and Dumber To.  Harry and Lloyd are no longer well-meaning morons, but instruments of destruction who end up hurting more innocent people in their quest to reunite Harry with his daughter.

The original magic of Dumb and Dumber is captured in exactly one scene, where Harry and Lloyd are oblivious to the family connection they aren't making.

The original magic of Dumb and Dumber is captured in exactly one scene, where Harry and Lloyd are oblivious to the family connection they aren't making.

If the original humor in Dumb and Dumber To is mean, what's left is just recycled from the original film.  Harry and Lloyd again find themselves travelling with an assassin who wants nothing more than to meet a sweet, fiery end if it means shutting the two up.  This could have been funny, but the frustration comes from a game Harry and Lloyd are playing that involves the word "fart" a couple of dozen times.  There are six credited screenwriters to this movie, and that's the best they could come up with?

The overabundance of screenwriters helps make sense of the overstuffed plot.  The "assassins are after Harry and Lloyd for reasons they do no not know" and "one dummy is in love" subplots are recycled.  But there are other plots involving Harry's estranged daughter, a mysterious package potentially worth millions, a science fair gone wrong, and other points kill momentum from one scene to the next.  The connections are tenuous, the visual jokes revealed too quickly, and Harry and Lloyd are so far beyond empathy I almost wished for their end as much as their unseen assassin.

Daniels and Carrey still "got it".  The charisma is there, and in better hands they could have had another funny movie to add to their filmography.  But when Daniels can team up with Noah Baumbach for The Squid and the Whale, or Carrey tap into his darker comic impulses for the brilliant I Love You Phillip Morris, there's little reason to go back into the past just to prove you can.  Dumb and Dumber To is so bad it makes me wonder if they ever really had "it" to begin with, and with so many better options available for them both I'm not going to bother to find out.

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Tail - Dumb and Dumber ToDumb and Dumber To (2014)

Directed by Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly.
Screenplay written by Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Sean Anders, John Morris, Bennett Yellin, and Mike Cerrone.
Starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.

Posted by Andrew

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Ugh. This was pretty terrible. Nice review Andrew.

    • Thanks for the comment Dan. I was just surprised at how mean they made Harry and Lloyd. They weren’t paragons or anything in the first film but here they’re just no fun at all.


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