“Dumb and Dumber To”
1 hour, 49 minutes
The scene in this week’s “Dumb and Dumber To” where Jim Carrey’s Lloyd daydreams that Jeff Daniels’ Harry is married to the mom from “Honey Boo Boo” was about the point I started thinking maybe I should have skipped this latest offering from the Farrelly Brothers, nostalgia for their twenty-year-old original film aside. That’s not actually true. My doubts began right after the opening credits when I got a look at Daniels and realized just how old and tired he actually is. The haggard look of the character is a good metaphor for this film, trotting out jokes that were trend-setting two decades ago but now elicit little more than a sad smile. Lacking the vitality and originality of “Dumb and Dumber,” lacking anything even resembling a coherent plot, this depressing Part “To” is easily the worst movie I’ve seen all year.
The film picks up, as you might imagine, twenty-years after the end of the first movie. Lloyd is catatonic, having spent the last two decades in a mental institution due to a bad break-up. Harry comes to see his friend every week like clockwork, feeding him and, as the filmmakers are proud to show us several times, changing his diapers. Just at the moment Harry reveals that this is his last visit, medical issues of his own taking precedence, Lloyd snaps to, revealing that he’s been faking it the entire time. “Got you!!” he yells. This joke is actually mildly amusing, but you don’t actually have to go to the movie for it. It, like the few other amusing moments of the movie, are spoiled in the trailers. From here we learn that Harry needs a new kidney and, wouldn’t you know it, he’s got a long-lost daughter who might be able to give him one. The duo seeks this mystery child out, now a twenty-two year old woman, and through the help of a thoroughly depressing performance by the once vital Kathleen Turner, they find that the girl has been adopted by the world’s greatest scientist. The daughter, however, is off to El Paso to attend a symposium on innovation and research, accepting a life-time achievement award for her father on account of the fact that he’s down with the sniffles. Naturally, though, she’s as big a moron as her biological father and big laughs ensue. No they don’t. Harry and Lloyd pack up, with a duplicitous handyman in the person of Rob Riggle in tow, and head for the border. Another funny scene occurs on this journey, but, again, it’s in the trailer. Eventually our hapless heroes arrive in El Paso, where all the best high-end technological think-tank symposiums are held, and have to crash the conference, where wackiness abounds! No it doesn’t. After nearly two hours the film miraculously limps to a close leaving you to wonder, “What did I just do with my evening?”
You may call me a hater and a spoilsport and a stick-in-the-mud movie critic who naturally hates gross-out comedy, but to be honest, I was flabbergasted at how bad this movie was. I remember being equally surprised in 1994 when I saw the original “Dumb and Dumber,” convinced that I would hate it. That movie was hysterical. Not everything worked, but the stuff that hit, hit hard and managed to set the tone for zany comedies for years to come. I didn’t think I would love “Dumber To” – the idea of a sequel after all these years is naturally fraught with problems, but I thought it could at least maintain the base level of quality from the first film. Nope. Not only did I not buy into our heroes’ exploits, but the humor is so slight, so easy, so base that I found it hard to believe this was from the same writer/directors. Jim Carrey doesn’t seem to have aged much, but as I mentioned, Daniels has, and not well. And poor Kathleen Turner. When did she become a punchline? She used to be a knockout, but this movie just uses her to illustrate the ravages of age. Of the main cast, Rob Riggle is really the only one who really brings it, and what does that say about your big-budget comedy extravaganza? Rob Riggle is the best part of the film.
“Dumb and Dumber To” feels like one of those movies that might be saved by a lot of clever cameos, but here again the film seriously underwhelms. The one high-profile cameo I can think of is really kind of a non-cameo as Bill Murray shows up as a meth-dealer subletting Harry’s apartment. As he’s covered head-to-toe in toxic waste gear however, you’d never know it was him. It’s been rumored that Jennifer Lawrence had a cameo as a younger version of the Kathleen Turner character, only to later request that those scenes be cut from the film. The filmmakers deny this, so I guess we’ll never know. I will say this, however: that role is obviously designed to be a surprise cameo, from the way the flashbacks are shot to the way the character is described in the script, the audience is being set up for a big “aha” moment late in the film. When that moment comes however, the character is only ever seen from behind, as if being played by a stand-in. It’s weird and deflates further an already tired joke. All I can say is that Jennifer Lawrence dodged a bullet regardless.
The kindest thing I can say about “Dumb and Dumber To” is that it is oddly reminiscent of an old college friend. It’s that friend you meet up with after twenty years and while you and everyone else you know has moved on, gotten jobs and started families, you find he’s still working at Taco Bell and lighting his farts on a bet. And you just think, “Really? Still?” Grade: D-
“Dumb and Dumber To” is rated PG-13 for cartoonish violence, language, and some fairly graphic sexual innuendo. This film should have been rated R if only to spare those under 17 from wasting ten bucks.
Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.