By Bob Garver
Nov. 17, 2014. It has been twenty years since the Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey first played to the lowest common denominator in “Dumb and Dumber.” Though Daniels certainly held his own as one half of the dimwitted duo (as a matter of fact, the film wouldn’t have worked without the excellent chemistry of both actors), the film was often seen as a vehicle for Carrey, who was quickly becoming one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. That star has since dimmed thanks to “safe” roles in movies like “The Grinch” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” Doing a sequel to an earlier hit might seem like another “safe” choice, but there’s nothing safe about the manic energy he and Daniels bring to their roles.
The plot finds Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) traveling across the country to meet “Harry’s” long-lost daughter Penny (Rachel Melvin) so Harry can hit her up for a kidney. I put Harry’s name in quotes because the mother (Kathleen TUrner) was with many men, including Lloyd, who develops an immediate crush on Penny that is already creepy and threatens to get much creepier any second.
There’s also a subplot about various villains trying to steal away a billion-dollar invention that Penny’s adoptive scientist father has entrusted with Harry and Lloyd. But the plot doesn’t really matter, just know that Harry and Lloyd are once again going on a road trip where they get to bother a whole lot of people.
The film plays to the nostalgic nature of the original’s target audience of juveniles, who are now in their late 20s and early 30s (I was eight when the first one came out, and in fact it was the first PG-13 movie I saw in theaters). I was waiting for a lot of the callback jokes to bomb, but surprisingly, most of them didn’t. I actually liked Lloyd’s revealing of the second most annoying sound in the world.
But the fact remains that there are a lot of callback jokes in this film. Newer viewers should watch the first film before watching this one, and even longtime fans might need a refresher. The downside of watching both films close together is that you’re spending a total of about four hours with these characters, and a little bit of them goes a long way.
What can I say about the humor of this movie? I don’t really need to say anything because everything you need to know is right there in the title. The film is one dumb gag after another. Notice I’m not saying “unfunny” or “ineffective,” I’m saying “dumb.” Used correctly, dumb gags can be very funny even for the smartest viewer. As a matter of fact, there is an art to dumb gags that, if mastered, makes the artist very smart. And a lot of the dumb gags in the movie are indeed smartly constructed. But there are even more that are just plain dumb and bad and painful. A lot of them are vulgar too. Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly are known as purveyors of gross-out humor and this movie sees them sink to some new lows. I’m honestly surprised that the MPAA let this movie slide with a PG-13 rating.
I will say that, as dumb as they are, “Dumb and Dumber To” at least has a lot of gags. Even if you laugh at only one out of ten, there’s still a lot to like. Carrey and Daniels have maintained their chemistry and the comic energy is kept consistent. Even if a particular gag doesn’t work, there’s a strong possibility that the next one will. So by all means, watch this movie. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll cringe, you’ll cringe, you’ll cringe some more and then you’ll laugh again.
Two stars out of five.