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The Farrelly Brothers have a long history of making stupidly goofy movies, spanning back to 1994’s Dumb and Dumber continuing through to Fever Pitch and The Three Stooges in the 2000’s, and finally, coming full circle, to deliver the astoundingly dumb Dumb and Dumber To (a clever misspelling that surely flew over the heads of their target audience).
As we all know from the spoiler filled trailer, Lloyd (Jim Carrey) has been living in a mental institution for the twenty-years since we have last seen him – not to worry, brave movie goer, it’s all a gag. What ensues is a series of re-hashed fart jokes and cameo appearances from Dumb and Dumber. With a sub-plot worthy of a Nickelodeon after school special, or anything starring Macaulay Culkin or Brian Bonsall, Dumb and Dumber To focuses on Lloyd and Harry (Jeff Daniels) as they travel to El Paso to find Harry’s biological daughter. The “hilarity” continues as the two pick up (and this gets a bit convoluted on paper) Harry’s daughter’s adoptive father’s gardener, Travis (Rob Riggle), whose ulterior motives for joining the absurd journey are nefarious. Plenty of idiocy and mispronunciations follow Harry and Lloyd on their long journey, as do some wacky modes of transportation, and there are plenty of laughs (in my theater anyway) to be had.
Unfortunately, in my youth, I was unable to watch Dumb and Dumber due to parental discretion, and therefore, I do not have the proper nostalgia that many people my age possess. Although many audience members in my particular screening seemed to be howling with laughter, it came across that I may not have been alone in my disappointment. Screenplay writers Sean Anders and John Morris (Hot Tub Time Machine, Horrible Bosses 2) have some clever comedies under their belts, yet they have completely neglected any real humor in this movie. Obvious jokes would present themselves throughout the narrative, but instead of following through, the script diverts into another butt joke or to Lloyd’s penchant for incorrect figures of speech. The entire writing staff, to that end, penned the film in a manner that suggests either an inside joke about the incredible stupidity of the American movie-going public, or their own beleaguered temperaments, as they were every bit as fed up with the hackneyed material as most cinema audiences. An all out assault on the pressure of studios to produce safe, inoffensive cash-cows, Dumb and Dumber To represents everything that is wrong with modern Hollywood culture.
Although Dumb and Dumber is responsible for helping launch both of their careers (for Carrey, twin 1994 releases Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask helped as well), it is unfathomable why either would choose to return to such a puerile and asinine film. Jeff Daniels has long since made the move to more weighty work with is roles in films like Squid and the Whale and recent television hit, The Newsroom. Carrey’s acting has recently fallen off substantially, but surely he can do better than this. Both easily slip back into their two-decades old characters, which, I suppose, means that their performances are believable and well portrayed. Both are completely unafraid to re-inhabit the lives of their younger (39 for Daniels, 32 for Carrey) selves, and each transition rather seamlessly. Riggle’s straight man to the nonsensical Lloyd and Harry is enjoyable in its physically comedic way, and offers some of the very few genuine laughs available. Rachel Melvin as Harry’s daughter, Penny, firmly grasps the half-baked humor, but with her recent role in Zombeavers, one cannot say whether this is talent or a natural inclination.
A glowering disappointment for both fans of the original work, and anyone who detests the downfall of comedy and Hollywood greed, Dumb and Dumber To is without a doubt the “Dumber” of the to (two) films.