Three nights ago, in preparation of the second installment (well, the second Farrelly Brothers installment) of Dumb and Dumber, I sat down on the couch with a cold beer, fired up Netflix, and took a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Not because I needed to… I could have recited every line from the movie that defined my teenaged boyhood. But I’m glad I did, because the next night may have forever tainted my perspective of this iconic beacon to middle school memories. To say that Dumb and Dumber To was a massive disappointment is to say that Josef Stalin was kind of an asshole. With original cast and directors and extremely low expectations, I really didn’t see how it could underperform, but I lost interest within the first five minutes.
If there is one possible explanation to why the comedy dream team of the Farrelly brothers, Jim Carrey, and Jeff Daniels could have fallen so short of even an acceptable sequel, it has to be the lack of subtleties. The original formula of over-the-top slapstick mixed with with some subtle humor and even scenes like this which show actual range of acting was completely abandoned, and the entire movie seemed like a contest of “Who can lash out for the most attention?” If Shatner did comedy, he could have played every role. Witty, improvised lines were replaced with exaggeration of poorly reused jokes to make Harry and Lloyd exceedingly stupid. “Everybody knows you never go full retard.” In that respect, it seemed like the whole production was striving to be like the God-awful prequel, and they lost sight of the magic that created a cult classic. A lot could have been done with a little creativity and less reliance on twenty year old jokes landing again.
That’s my feeling of the movie as a whole, but that’s not to say there weren’t a couple redeeming qualities – a few genuine laughs to be had… it is still a Farrely brothers movie. The premise is that Harry (Jeff Daniels) finds out through a postcard, marked 22 years ago, that his old flame Fraida Felcher (from the heart-shaped hot tub scene and played by Kathleen Turner) was pregnant. Since Harry is suffering from kidney problems, he and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) set off on a cross-country journey in search of his daughter Penny and a possible kidney transplant. Laurie Holden (from The Walking Dead fame) plays Penny’s toe-fetished, attempted husband murderer, adopted mother, while Rob Riggle is her lover and accomplice. The whole screenplay seemed like it was designed for low-brow humor and cheap laughs, which didn’t fall well on the audience.
The moral of the story here: when has it ever been a good idea to do a sequel of a movie with a cult following twenty years later? Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace? (If you hold the same sentiment, you may find humor in South Park’s episode, “The China Problem.”) I understand that there is money to be made, and that rekindling old production flames can be a huge draw for actors and directors, but it leaves the fans more often than not feeling jaded. If you really loved the original Dumb and Dumber, I can’t in good conscience recommend seeing this sequel… at least not in theaters. It will be $12 and 110 minutes of your life you will never be able to get back. But maybe on some late drunken night down the road, when Netflix finally picks it up, go ahead and watch Harry and Lloyd give it the old preschool try.