The title to this 15-years-too-late sequel may be Dumb and Dumber To, but what it really should be is “Dumb and Dumber Idea”, because it was a dumb idea to make the movie after all this time, and the film’s progression is one dumb idea for a Lloyd & Harry gag after the next. Even fans of the original will be hard pressed to find anything beyond a nostalgic chuckle or a face palm here; on the contrary, the letdown factor for the folks who loved Lloyd and Harry’s original 1994 adventure is certainly much higher than it might be for those for whom all this material is new.
Here’s the plot, if you can call it that: Loyal doofus pal Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) has spent the last two decades taking care of his soulmate-in-stupidity Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey), who apparently has been catatonic, wheelchair-bound, and institutionalized since last we saw him. On the day Harry reluctantly says his final goodbye to Lloyd due to a sudden personal crisis of his own, he makes a startling discovery which won’t be all that startling for audiences assuming they’ve seen the film’s trailer: Lloyd was faking the entire time.
With his pal now awake and ambulatory, Harry shares his new predicament: he’s in need of a new kidney, and thus of course he needs a compatible donor. Conveniently, his salvation presents itself in the form of his long-lost daughter Penny (Rachel Melvin), whom he finds out about through the girl’s mother, Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner). Fraida gave the girl up for adoption when she was born, and they haven’t been in contact save for a single letter from mother to daughter, returned upopened, so Harry and Lloyd put on their detective hats and set out to track down the beautiful young lady and hopefully save Harry’s life, because why wouldn’t she want to donate an organ to save the life of the father she’s never met? The trail leads them to more unexpected reunions, a visit to a tech convention posing as prize-winning scientists, and opportunities for Lloyd and Harry to demonstrate vital life skills such as hands-free hot dog eating, catheter removal through sheer pulling force, cross-country Zamboni driving, and how best to steal drinks at a public function where the drinks are already free. (Hint: Use of “stink palms” is involved.)
Not racing to purchase your tickets for today’s earliest showing online just yet? Can’t imagine why.
It’s difficult to imagine how Dumb and Dumber To could possibly feel more forced and strained as a comedy than it does. Everyone working in front of the camera looks like they’re working very hard to be funny: Jeff Daniels (who really should have said “no” to this and instead spent the time lobbying for “The Newsroom” to get a longer season from HBO) visibly struggles in every scene to keep the goof meter in the red, while Jim Carrey looks like he consciously aping his own performance of 20 years ago — it’s Carrey portraying 1994 Jim Carrey portraying Lloyd Christmas. We’ve seen this before in sequels that came way too late — remember Eddie Murphy completely incapable of remembering how to be funny or believable playing Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop 3, almost a full seven years after Cop 2? Dumb and Dumber To actually has a great deal in common with Cop 3 in terms of its failings: just about all the new gags in the film fall flat, while the few thrown in for nostalgia’s sake that harken back to the original film will most likely draw a chuckle or two from people who remember the first time around fondly. In particular with regards to Dumber To, watch for the return of blind bird lover Billy in 4c and the resulting follow-up to the first film’s now infamous “dead parakeet” joke.
But it says something that it took six writers total to come up with a viable script to make this movie happen after all this time, to find a story worth telling for these characters and to revisit their particular brand of “comedy.” What does it say? If anything, it should say, “Steer clear.” If you’re really feeling nostalgic for the exploits of Harry and Lloyd, re-watch the original. It may not be new, but at least it won’t disappoint.
Score: 1 out of 5
Dumb and Dumber To
Starring Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Rob Riggle, Laurie Holden, Rachel Melvin, Kathleen Turner. Directed by Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly.
Running Time: 110 minutes
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references.