“Dumb and Dumber To” Movie Review

    With the stench of “Anchorman 2” still emanating from a year ago, the directing duo Peter and Bobby Farrelly have their chance to bring back a long gestating sequel to a successful comedy with “Dumb and Dumber To”.  The sequel to “Anchorman” had nearly 10 years for the filmmakers to concoct something that would live up to the classic original and they failed miserably, essentially repeating every joke from the first film and even going as far as to shoot the same climactic ending only with a higher production value and even more outlandish slapstick violence.  The Farrelly brothers have done exactly the same thing with their sequel as well.  While their comedic style seems to have been passed by, the Farrelly’s believe that simply going back to the same well over and over again would make a suitable second chapter in the adventures of Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey).  Does “Dumb and Dumber To” succeed in generating any kind of laughs at all? They are few and far between with most of the film’s scenes falling flat or they were already in the film’s trailer and thus weren’t funny the second time around.

     Now let’s face it.  The film’s title alone tells you this kind of movie intends on being stupid, so to call this latest Farrelly creation “lame”, “dumb”, “juvenile”, or “gross” is likely a tremendous compliment to all involved.  The problem is these guys are now twenty years older and won’t necessarily appeal to the current generation.  To have Harry and Lloyd show absolutely no progression in their ability to make us laugh, thus the need to recycle jokes from the original, means the screenwriters must’ve struggled mightily putting the story together.  With this kind of talent in front of and behind the camera, this surprises me greatly and makes me wonder what the point was in making this sequel at all.  I can’t believe for a second they or the studio heads thought they had something worthwhile here. Or did they?

     The problems begin immediately when we discover Lloyd has spent the last twenty years in a mental institution apparently because he was distraught over the events in the first film.  No doubt, the Farrellys love making fun of mentally challenged people and this film does it constantly as it relies on the ignorance of the two lead characters to somehow get a pass for doing so.  They also use this ignorance to joke about race, sexual orientation, and dead people.  When Lloyd reveals he’s been faking the entire time and has purposely wasted, as Harry puts it, the prime years of his life, he is showered with laughter and appreciation for the monumental joke he has just pulled off at his own expense.  Again, I don’t expect any sort of realism here, but couldn’t they have come up with a better way to begin the film instead of going with something so unbelievable and preposterous that even a teenager won’t buy into it?

     After the first scene, Harry and Lloyd are right back where they started and begin their adventure with a set up scene in their apartment.  Harry reveals he needs a kidney transplant and they discover he may have a daughter that he has never met.  If you recall the musings between the two about Fraida Felcher in the first film, then you’ll remember the stories Harry told about his exploits with her, but also Lloyd’s reaction to those stories that indicated he too may have had his first sexual experience with her as well.  So they track down Fraida, who is played here by Kathleen Turner, and discover she did indeed have a daughter that she gave away for adoption some twenty years before.

     And so the road trip begins as Harry and Lloyd set out to track down Harry’s supposed daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin), who is headed to a convention in El Paso and was charged with the of delivery an important package to one of the professors her step dad had worked with in the past.  Just as in the first film, our two numbskulls find a way to be the one’s to deliver this package to her and do so by way of a cross country journey with multiple hit men and double crossers hot on their trail.  There are dreamy sex fantasies involving martial arts and ninjas that attempt to one up the original, and there are numerous attempts at gross out gags designed to somehow outdo the antics that had us dying of laughter decades ago, the best of which is actually a variation on the stink palm joke in the Kevin Smith film “Mallrats”.  Unfortunately, very little of it works.  The timing is completely off and the supporting characters don’t supply the kind of impact needed to keep a film like this above water.  Sure, the Farrellys manage to add a few unique touches, like Lloyd and Penny eating at a Mexican/Asian fusion restaurant where they nonchalantly eat tortilla chips dipped in guacamole with chop sticks, but that kind of originality is in short supply as most of the sketches fall short of even a snicker. 

     For the most part, I spent the duration of “Dumb and Dumber To” being reminded of how much a really loved the original film.  To the Farelly’s credit, they would go on to make their masterpiece five years later with “There’s Something About Mary”, but they have not been able to recapture that magic again since.  The hope was they could somehow find what made their films funny in the 90s and get that to translate into today’s popular culture with “Dumb and Dumber To”.  Fact is, today’s audiences have watched movies that have far surpassed the gross out scenes in “Dumb and Dumber”, so it was imperative the Farrellys came up with a way to make these characters funny without resorting to tactics that have been massively overused since they invented them twenty years ago.  If that’s what they set out to do here, than they missed the mark by a mile.  For what it’s worth, I still think these characters are funny, but this sequel offers nothing new to remember them by.  GRADE: D