Viking Night: Dumb and Dumber
By Bruce Hall
October 9, 2012
When you’re talking about a movie called Dumb and Dumber, you’ve got to be willing to lower your standards. A lot. I don’t mean in the sense that you need to brace for suck. I mean that you’ve got to be the kind of person who’s willing to have a good time once in awhile, and screw the consequences. Have pizza for breakfast, you’re an adult! Why not chug a beer at 10 a.m. on your birthday? Go ahead and call in sick! It’s your birthday and you’re drunk on warm beer, stuffed with cold pizza, and you’re watching Dumb and Dumber, giggling like a nine-year-old as your brain cells shrivel and die by the thousands.
You can handle it, because at least one of these things you will not regret the next day - Dumb and Dumber is definitely Dumb, and then it definitely gets Dumber. There is no false advertising here and I promise, you have all forgotten how funny this movie is. Even though you’re no longer in college and you have mouths to feed and bills to pay, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a break to laugh and point like a mental patient observing a duck pond from your spacious 6x9 padded cell on the fourth floor of the Bobby and Peter Farrelly Hospital for the Clinically Demented.
The first thing you notice, watching Dumb and Dumber after all these years, is that you don’t need to look at the DVD case to guess the copyright year. 1994 was not too late for bad synth rock and giant hair, but still too early for teeth whitening technology to be widely available. It adds to the flavor of the film, and when you finally meet Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels), two sad sack morons who share a dingy flat with 7000 worms, some milk crate furniture and a parakeet, your expectations are already pretty low.
Harry is a pet groomer who is very good at cutting dog hair, but even better at picking his nose and being chronically late. Lloyd looks like Moe Howard after a skate park faceplant, and is at least 50% less intelligent than his roommate. He’s gainfully employed, though, as the world’s most incompetent limo driver. At the outset, he drives a mysterious woman named Mary (Lauren Holly) to the airport. Since Mary is the first pretty girl to ever address him without vomiting, Lloyd decides that she is his destiny. Unbeknownst to him, she is in the midst of a ransom situation and when he observes her making the drop, Lloyd decides to come to the rescue. Unfortunately the kidnappers spot him, and follow him back home.
Don’t worry about who was kidnapped and why, it really doesn’t matter and even when we find out it doesn’t make any sense. The important thing is that our two idiot friends track Mary to Colorado and decide to return her briefcase, for which they hope to be rewarded with money, fame and lots of hot kung fu sex. Harry and Lloyd manage to stay ahead of the kidnappers using a combination of luck and stupidity, since they are completely unaware they are in danger. Meanwhile, the kidnappers - of course - are convinced that nobody could possibly be as stupid as two gap-toothed morons in a van shaped like a dog.
Clearly, Harry and Lloyd are professional hit men in disguise.
And so the chase ensues, through the American Heartland and into the mountains. Dumb and Dumber is two parts buddy road comedy, one part crime thriller, and just a pinch of Jerry Lewis mistaken identity farce. It’s infectiously funny madcap shtick that shouldn’t be funny - but it is. Harry and Lloyd’s adventure is an extended mash-up of fart jokes, piss gags, lunacy, idiocy, snot, hospital grade laxatives and eye rolling double entendre. Have you ever changed a baby’s diaper and then had to stand there and watch the little tyke immediately fill it up again in what you assumed was a blatant act of infantile defiance? It’s disgusting, it’s insulting, and sometimes it’s even infuriating.
But it’s a baby - so it’s still kind of cute.
So it is with Dumb and Dumber. It’s hard to imagine a time when jim carrey was not Jim Carrey, but he brings his lunch pail to this one, and displays the kind of rare comic wit that allows such asinine material to become hilarious despite itself. Jeff Daniels is no slouch either, and his chemistry with Carrey is kind of hard to resist. Their characters are fools to an almost intolerable degree, but they’re like a pair of super sized toddlers. Yes, they should know better, but they’re...well...special. And they’re friends. And they’re just looking for love - because as movies have taught us, the worst thing in the world you can be is not a dummy, or a terrorist, or a communist, or even a member of the Oakland Raiders.
The worst thing you can be is alone. That’s stupid, of course, but it makes for a believable motive, and if you can’t root for a loveable idiot who just wants a girlfriend then you sir, or ma’am, are a heartless monster who has never been loved. Dumb and Dumber lives up to its title, and it’s anything but a masterpiece. But it’s the comedy equivalent of a five dollar milkshake - maybe not quite worth the price, but definitely worth the experience. It’s a laugh riot that you’ll feel guilty for enjoying, but it’s hard not to be thankful after a good laugh, no matter how it comes to you.
Just when you thought Hollywood couldn't get any dumber, they went and did something like this - and TOTALLY redeemed themselves!