REVIEW: Dumb and Dumber To [2014]

Score: 4/10 | ★ ½

Rating: PG-13 | Runtime: 110 minutes | Release Date: November 14th, 2014 (USA)
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director(s): Bobby Farrelly & Peter Farrelly
Writer(s): Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Sean Anders, John Morris, Bennett Yellin & Mike Cerrone

“I don’t even know cursive”

Nope. Not even the movie that started it all can save the fledgling career of the Farrelly Brothers. Despite reading an interview of them speaking about how great the sequel’s script was due to its being almost identical to the first, I entered their last film with an open mind. The same and more, they said? Come on—it’s been twenty years. They should have noticed by their diminishing box office returns this past decade that the comedy used to propel them towards A-list status in the ’90s wasn’t working anymore. We can only take so many fart jokes, manchilds, and offensive material before we begin to look elsewhere for something fresh. Dumb and Dumber was fresh in 1994, but now Dumb and Dumber To is just plain tired.

The brothers did something right, though, realizing their debut’s one flaw—yes, I kind of love the original—was attempting to have a plot and going overboard in executing it. While revisiting the first recently I found its need to tie up loose ends concerning the whole kidnapping MacGuffin derailed every belly laugh had along the journey. Thankfully, they’ve made sure Part Two stays simple with its road trip being more conducive to the series of skits and pratfalls we enjoy watching Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) fall prey to without fail. Harry needs a kidney, discovers he has a daughter, and puts two and two together to make twenty-two before hitting the asphalt with Lloyd in tow. Two decades is a long wait, though, and the actors’ sense of endearment has certainly expired.

It doesn’t help matters that they’ve been rendered even dumber than before. At least there were a couple glimpses of common sense filling the gaps when the duo weren’t being overly juvenile for goofs back in ’94. Now it’s as though they’ve regressed to simply being clueless since one or both of them mistakenly says a wrong word every ten minutes or so—a pace that should reveal they’re trolling us with carefully targeted puns when in fact reality proves it’s the Farrellys pick-pocketing our cash for easy laughs that a majority of the audience was more than willing to partake in. More than their diminishing IQ, Harry and Lloyd have also been neutered of charm. With no one like Mary Swanson to win over, they tread water merely trying to make fools of each other instead.

What about the daughter (Rachel Melvin‘s Penny), you ask? Not even she can provide a real person with which to humanize these dolts because she’s literally as dumb as they are. It’s no surprise then that she disappears for a majority of the film since the abundance of idiocy her inclusion creates appears even too much for the Farrellys. We’re therefore relegated to watching our unwitting heroes face off against this entry’s underestimating foes played by Laurie Holden (Adele) and Rob Riggle (Travis). Mr. Andre and Mental they are not, though, thanks to each being used as fodder for jokes when applicable rather than consummate straight men for the stars to play off. I’m not saying I minded getting a few breaks from the grown ten-year olds’ shtick. I just didn’t need more lazy stupidity in their place.

The biggest shame, though, is that the directors weren’t lying when they said Dumb and Dumber To would be the same as its predecessor. This thing is littered with callbacks spanning fun (Brady Bluhm‘s Billy) to lacking (this round’s fantasy love sequence ending in a ninja fight is mild in comparison) all the way to clichéd (someone’s an undercover cop somewhere). Even the Big Blue Bug makes an encore appearance. I get that a big part of appealing to fans hinges on injecting this stuff, but I couldn’t help feeling most instances seemed tacked on rather than cohesive pieces of the new puzzle. At least their reintroducing Fraida Felcher (a fantastically self-deprecating Kathleen Turner) works swimmingly and the road towards the Mutt Cuts van glimpsed in the poster is orchestrated well. So not all is lost.

But it’s not like the Farrellys don’t know how to do callbacks well. They actually have a few doozies fully contained in the film itself. So don’t fear when some gags fall a bit flat at the beginning because the pay-off of their thematic set-ups will arrive later on. I won’t spoil what they are, but get ready for a couple pretty funny and abrupt deaths to help wake you up when the pace slows. Come to think of it, both smartly mirror similar deaths in Dumb and Dumber. They’re callbacks inside callbacks and I have to say my realizing this just made me enjoy the film a little bit more. Or maybe it made my hate increase since my knowing they had the capacity to turn old gags new again shows how they squandered the rest’s potential.

In the end Dumb and Dumber To‘s failure is ultimately due to its redundant nature and the Farrellys not understanding what we loved about the first. Carrey and Daniels—who both seem so removed from the original that they’re trying way too hard to recapture that magic through overly hammy performances—were memorable because their stupidity helped them traverse an intelligent landscape of people watching and laughing just like us. When you dumb down the world they inhabit with cheap bimbo jokes from a likeable Melvin and buffoonish missteps from a wasted Riggle, it makes their idiocy sad rather than joyful. Setting them both to eleven for joke after joke waters down their appeal too. The quantity of gaffes definitely doesn’t overcome the lack of quality. There were laughs, but nothing that stands the test of time.

[1] (L to R) JIM CARREY and JEFF DANIELS reprise their signature roles as Lloyd and Harry in the sequel to the smash hit that took the physical comedy and kicked it in the nuts: “Dumb and Dumber To”. Photo Credit: Hopper Stone © 2014 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
[2] Adele (LAURIE HOLDEN) plots with Travis (ROB RIGGLE) in the sequel to the smash hit that took the physical comedy and kicked it in the nuts: “Dumb and Dumber To”. Photo Credit: Hopper Stone © 2014 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
[3] Penny (RACHEL MELVIN) is amused by Lloyd (JIM CARREY) in the sequel to the smash hit that took the physical comedy and kicked it in the nuts: “Dumb and Dumber To”. Photo Credit: Hopper Stone © 2014 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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