Twenty long, hard years have passed beneath our feet, and at last…Lloyd and Harry have returned! Rejoice, oh ye of sophomoric fart humor! Sporting the same wondrous fashion sense, the same incomparable coifs and just a few more wrinkles, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, more than anything else, have retained their unique comedic synergy. That is what makes the Dumb and Dumber movies so endearing, so memorable and so funny, and DUMB AND DUMBER TO is funny. Is it a home run? Not exactly but you will laugh, as I did, and far more than I expected to. And my laughter is an important criteria. Not because my opinion particularly matters or because I critique film and therefore it is in some way a validation of the film’s worthiness. Bullocks! No, it is important because I am NOT the target audience and in fact would have never gone to see the film had I not been asked to review it. I had the benefit of seeing it in a full theater and that was a blessing because it allowed me to see what makes most people laugh – and this is it. The movie is an almost seamless string of jokes, one liners, amazing malapropisms and sight gags. It is so dense with laughs that it’s easy to miss one while recovering from the last. In my rough estimate I’d say that every one out of four jokes lands big, and compared to most comedies of late, that’s a damn good batting average. There is tremendous value in sheer silly hilarity, and our world could use more of it right now. From the laughter surrounding me in the screening I would say that it is precisely what most folks want.
For the three of you on earth who have no previous DUMB AND DUMBER experience, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) have been best friends since boyhood. They also happen to be astoundingly stupid. But it is not merely a straightforward stupidity, it is the hilarious and lethal combination of stupid and arrogant. Constantly trying to one-up the other with inane cryptic private jokes and games, it’s fairly miraculous that they have survived to become adults. Without giving anything away, the story starts with Lloyd’s release from a long term care facility where he has been for – you guessed it – 20 years. Faithfully visited each week by Harry whose visits include numerous diaper changes, Lloyd manifests a miraculous recovery at the news that Harry will no longer be able to visit regularly. After a spur of the moment DIY catheter removal which more closely resembles a truck pulling contest, the friends quickly resume their usual antics. The funniest parts of the movie are the sight gags and the malapropisms. The fact that Lloyd, after being sprung from the sanitarium and not having shaved or cut his hair in 20 years, automatically reverts to his previous idiotic haircut is, in itself, hilarious. There is much of that and to be honest the audience missed some of the more subtle jokes which are truly good. Harry has had to take in a roommate who provides some of the films earliest gut-aching laughs. Carrey and Daniel’s ability to play it “straight” when funny action is taking place around them is one of the qualities which make DUMB AND DUMBER TO funny and not merely dumb. The mixture of obvious jokes with more understated and lightening fast quips provides a rhythm to the movie which keeps the audience engaged. I laughed at some things that few others did, and did not laugh at things which cracked up the vast majority of my theater mates. But in the end we were all happy. That is an accomplishment.
There is a story here which, in keeping with our model, has a shred of logic to it but mostly serves as a good skeleton upon which to hang the humor. Involving organ transplant, a cheating spouse, an adopted child and Special Ops, it is characteristically ludicrous but works well as the canvas for Lloyd and Harry’s antics. Rob Riggle as Travis the groundskeeper is a good addition to the cast and his comedic physicality meshes perfectly with the Lloyd/Harry slapstick which tends to be fairly bold and aggressive. When it comes to physical comedy I believe that Carrey is one of the finest comedians ever. With his ability to shape-shift his face like a plate of warm plastic putty, Carrey can morph with the blink of an eye and there is something about his expression, even at rest, which has an inherent hilarity to it. Kathleen Turner shows up as an old flame of both the men and plays it straight doing a fine job with the role and doling out convincing exasperation with her trademark raspy voice. The Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, have brought us some of the most memorable comedies of the last 20+ years. Having written, directed and produced this film, as they have others (DUMB AND DUMBER, SHALLOW HAL, ME, MYSELF & IRENE) they show their own unique sensibility with every frame of the film. I wish I had an explanation of why their recipe for humor works better than many others but I don’t. I can only say that they provide their audiences with a wide range of funny material – from goofy physical gags to subtle double-entendres. They are a comedy shot-gun spray to, let’s say, Woody Allen’s sniper rifle. They know how to bring out the best Carrey laughs and his career has in many ways been developed through his work with the Farrelly brothers. There is something for everyone in a Farrelly movie. Ironically, the two fantasy scenes in the film fall fairly flat. In dream/fantasy sequences where anything can happen it is odd that they wind up being so not funny. Additionally it is hard to keep up a warp speed momentum for 110 minutes and the film loses a bit of energy toward the end, but its forgivable. Your sides ache from laughing at that point anyway. The movie has the most hilarious joke about Asperger’s Syndrome I’ve ever heard. Come to think of it, it’s the only joke about Asperger’s Syndrome I’ve ever heard but it’s laugh out loud hilarious. The Dumb and Dumber movies make you laugh in spite of yourself, and it feels great. I can already see Lloyd and Harry as geriatric goof-balls in the next installment, but another 20 years is a long time…
(3 / 5)
Directors: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly
Cast: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Rob Riggle, Kathleen Turner, Laurie Holden, Rachel Melvin
Running Time: 110 minutes
Movie Review Dumb And Dumber To