A feeling akin to madness starts to settle in as I realize that I was starting High School when the original Dumb and Dumber was released. Whether you liked the film or not, it launched the careers of writing/directing brother team of Peter and Bobby Farrelly, and aided in their ascension to comedy gods until Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow came along to usurp them from power. Can revisiting their 20-year-old steppingstone with Dumb and Dumber To bring the brothers back into the conscious of the general public? I’ll make this easy for you now, dear reader…hell no.
Twenty years down the road from the last time we saw Harry and Lloyd, and they are no brighter or different (sans a few wrinkles here and there). Lloyd, suffering from the heartache of losing his former love, has been in a catatonic state for the entirety of the missing years between films. Visited by Harry every week, Lloyd is “sprung back to life” by the notion that his lifelong partner will no longer be able to visit due to a looming health problem. Harry needs a kidney transplant, but has no real blood relatives to act as an organ donor. That is until the pair unwittingly discover that Harry may just have a daughter he never knew about. With a tip from the girl’s mother, Harry and Lloyd set off on another strange road trip to find the young girl who can provide a working kidney for her estranged father, and possibly a love life for the lonely Lloyd.
Let’s just state the obvious here: if you’re expecting anything sophisticated or even new out of this trip down memory lane, you’ve probably already gone insane and live in a mental institution. That being said, Dumb and Dumber To is nothing more than a flaccid rehashing that lays lifeless in the street like Sunday morning roadkill waiting for a ragged skunk to come drag it off the road, giving it some sort of purpose to at least one living creature. Harsh, I know, but it’s simply a matter of fact; this heinous resurrection should have stayed a dream in the collective heads of many of my Generation-X peers.
Laughs hardly exist across the 107 minutes of pure banality that viewers are forced to endure. The few chuckles provided are fleeting at best, or already spoon-fed to anyone watching even the shortest trailer. Lowbrow humor can be brilliant; I’m not going to hide from that fact. The Farrelly Brothers were patron saints of that ideal with their second film Kingpin (a film that I personally feel dug Dumb and Dumber a quick and tidy grave). But any type of method that existed in their process fled the scene years ago, leaving a trail of deflated whoopee cushions in its wake.
A semblance of smarts is missing from every corner of this film, not just in the joke delivery. Common sense doesn’t live in Harry and Lloyd’s world, but it certainly doesn’t mean the other inhabitants of their sick and twisted universe can’t show a single shred of reasonable thinking. That is the crux of what makes films like The Naked Gun series work so well: no matter which character is playing the fool, the actor on the other side of the joke becomes the unwilling straight man. The world of Dumb and Dumber To, however, is filled with a varying rainbow of stupidity.
Then there are the stars. I love Jim Carrey and I adore Jeff Daniels, but I can’t lie, this time around they are nothing more than shells of their characters, desperately trying to imitate themselves in a strange paradoxical mindfuck. It often felt like the two actors were straining to recreate something that was probably just the outcome of them playfully futzing about 20 years ago. Somehow, they convinced themselves that they actually had to “act” here, a process that almost feels unnecessary for the task at hand. The cast is rounded out by other well known faces that are just that: more names to throw at the audience that do nothing to create real laughs. There is a very clever cameo at the opening of the film that only comes to light when the credits finally role, and it may be the single interesting take away from my time spent with Dumb and Dumber To.
I’m going to cut this short because I feel there really is nothing else I can say on any level about the film that I haven’t said already. I feel that my dreadful reaction to Dumb and Dumber To might just be as painful for you as it was for me to see this movie, and that right there is the best word to sum up what Dumb and Dumber To: painful.