“However, much like the first film, there’s a charming stupidity to it, and often times, I caught myself laughing well after a joke had passed. This is the kind of film where you often need to question why you’re laughing, but you don’t, and you roll with whatever the film concocts next.”
The original 1994 Dumb and Dumber is one of the quintessential nineties comedies mainly because of how flat-out ridiculous and senseless it is. Think of some of the most beloved comedies from the 1990’s – The Big Lebowski, Wayne’s World, Beavis and Butthead Do America, Tommy Boy, and dozens more – and you see they all have the aspect of having two quotable characters and an onslaught of hilarious stupidity. The original Dumb and Dumber paired Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in what would become arguably the most recognizable roles for both actors, and took on an early classic status as being a cherished piece of comedy from an era that seemed to churn them out like clockwork.
After a miserable prequel to the film in 2003, clearly the product of producers being unable to reunite the original duo, the question of whether or not we’d see an official sequel to the 1994 film was a valid one. Finally, in 2014, a stunning twenty years later, Carrey and Daniels reunite to give us Dumb and Dumber To, where we pick up exactly twenty years after the events of the first film, with Harry (Jeff Daniels) visiting Lloyd (Jim Carrey), whom has been in a catatonic state since losing the love of his life in the first film, in a psychiatric ward. Lloyd then, in a spontaneous manner, informs Harry that his catatonic behavior was all for a laugh; it is at this moment in the film that we realize what we’re getting into and can’t look back.
When all is said and done, and the laughs are had about Lloyd’s twenty year long gag, Harry gets serious by informing his best friend that he needs a kidney transplant. Harry’s parents, a Japanese couple that adopted him many years ago, are incompatible donors, leaving Harry almost without options. This is when he finds a post-card from 1991 saved by his father from a woman named Fraida Felcher that informs Harry that she is pregnant and needs Harry to contact her as soon as he can. Fraida (Kathleen Turner) informs the two that she had a daughter named Fanny Felcher (arguably the funniest joke in the film, and the actress being Rachel Melvin), who she gave up for adoption after being unfit to take care of her. Harry and Lloyd see an opportunity to track down Fanny and have her meet her biological father Harry before trying to convince her to part ways with one of her kidneys. The two hit the road from Rhode Island to Marylin in hopes of finding Fanny, but, as one might expect, wind up walking tightropes and getting into real danger, with the fun part being that Harry and Lloyd have no idea they’re in any kind of danger.
After a twenty year long wait, Dumb and Dumber To was probably the best sequel that could be made. For one, it improves on the Farrelly brothers’ last film, The Three Stooges, in that it doesn’t beat us over the head with the fact that these characters are fishes out of water and caught in an era they’re unfamiliar with, showing their misinterpretations of iPhones and other technological devices. Dumb and Dumber keeps itself focused on the goofy, verbal banter of its two characters, and when it’s showing its characters engaged in rapid-fire exchanges, the film is a real riot. It’s when dead-end, situational comedy that tries far too hard to be witty derails the film and makes it stumble to regain balance.
Consider scenes where Harry and Lloyd are visiting an old lady in a nursing home in hopes to steal her hearing aids since Harry lost his after a gun goes off, which results in a wickedly uncomfortable scene of the old woman being felt up. What entails is one of the most desperately unfunny scenes of the year, awkward and deplorable, and offensive because it mistakes the needless shock for genuine humor. Or consider when Lloyd and Harry enter a convention center and Lloyd reminds Harry of a way they can get “free drinks” by carrying out a lewd and miserably unfunny act. Shock value and sight gags have been the foundations to the Farrelly brothers career, always making over-the-top comedies that have elements of grotesque behavior. However, even with Dumb and Dumber To, shock value proves to be the lesser route to a laugh than just Harry and Lloyd conversing with the people around them or engaging in some sort of smart-ass banter. To me, that is the foundation of Dumb and Dumber and the justification for its longevity as something of a comedy classic.
Dumb and Dumber To has enough laughs to justify at least a viewing, which is more that can be said about a lot of films from decades past that were rived in the present day. Much of the film’s criticism seems to be directed at the alleged “mean-spiritedness” of some of Harry and Lloyd’s gags, like Lloyd being baffled at Harry’s adopted mother speaking Japanese and the continued harassment of the local blind boy. To me, these gags are on par with the humor of the first one, and when you consider the characters at hand, the mean-spiritedness is an unintentional feature being that these characters are so dumb they can barely function. If anything, this criticism is a product of a more sensitive, politically-correct society that is cautious of whom they make fun of and in what way.
The film is no comedic gem, and at ten minutes shy of two hours, like the first film, it runs its course here and there, with scenes at the aforementioned convention center going on for far too long. However, much like the first film, there’s a charming stupidity to it, and often times, I caught myself laughing well after a joke had passed. This is the kind of film where you often need to question why you’re laughing, but you don’t, and you roll with whatever the film concocts next.