Movie Review: Dumb and Dumber To
By Matthew Huntley
November 17, 2014
An unfortunate trend with comedy sequels, and really sequels in general, is they merely recycle the best parts of the original. When this happens, the new movie never really stands on its own two feet and relies too heavily on the audience’s knowledge of its predecessor to work. This makes it feel incomplete and, in many ways, pointless. Referencing the original and continuing its story is one thing (it’s why we go to sequels), but simply rehashing it is another, and in the case of a comedy, the difference can often mean whether or not it’s funny.
Sadly, the Farrelly Brothers’ Dumb and Dumber To never finds its own identity. It’s the long-awaited sequel to their modern classic, Dumb and Dumber (1994), which, after all these years, still has the ability to make you laugh out loud, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. The follow-up, in stark contrast, is a comic dead zone. It’s maybe good for a chuckle or two, but if we had the choice of either getting this for a sequel or to keep on wondering whether the Farrellys and their stars, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, would ever reunite, we’d opt for the wonderment.
Why did the Farrellys, Carrey and Daniels finally decide to make a sequel? Was it to appease fans of the original? Did they feel they had a solid script on their hands? Is it because “20” is a nice round number in terms of years between the first and second installments? These are some of the questions to consider, but the final answer, it seems, is “just because.” And one of the problems with the movie, and there are many, is there doesn’t seem to be a fully realized reason for its existence, and so it ultimately feels aimless and becomes, quite frankly, boring. This is a shame in and of itself, but it’s even more of one considering how many marks the original hit.
The lame brained plot, like the first “Dumb,” once again finds the intelligence-challenged Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Daniels) on a cross-country road trip. It picks up exactly 20 years after their last adventure and the movie is quick to let us know that it knows it’s a sequel, as when Harry asks Lloyd why he waited so long to reveal his pretending to be in a catatonic state in a mental institution was just a ruse: “Because that made it funnier.”
Things kick into gear when Harry reveals he needs a new kidney to live, and because both he and Lloyd are under the impression a transplant must come from a blood relative, they seek out Harry’s adopted Asian parents, only Harry was clueless to the fact he was ever adopted. Although they don’t give him a kidney, they do give him a box of unopened mail and among it is a postcard from Harry’s old girlfriend telling him she’s pregnant and in need of help. Although it was postmarked in 1991, they manage to track down Harry’s former flame, Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), who tells Harry she gave her now 22-year-old daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin), up for adoption. When Fraida tried to contact Penny herself, she was turned away.
Lloyd and Harry then take it upon themselves to find Penny, who we learn is just as dumb, thick and naïve as Harry. When they arrive, her adopted father (Steve Tom) and stepmother (Laurie Holden) tell them Penny is on her way to a technology convention in El Paso, so Harry and Lloyd hop in a hearse, then a Zamboni, and head south. And the movie lets the usual sight gags and misadventures begin, the likes of which we saw in the first Dumb and Dumber, only tweaked.
But they haven’t been tweaked enough. The movie’s six (count ‘em, six) screenwriters seemed to think that as long as they retooled the same hijinks from the original, it would prevent the sequel from coming across as dull and unimaginative. This isn’t the case, though, and we merely get the same jokes retold, only they’re not as fresh, and therefore not as amusing. These range from scatological humor, to Lloyd asking Harry if he wants to hear “the second most annoying sound in the world,” to not one, but two fantasy sequences (which recalls the karate-doggy bag scene from the original). Lloyd and Harry say just as many dumb and tactless things this time around, but because the movie already feels desperate and is burdened by an idiotic plot, their dumbness is more obnoxious than cute. We no longer have the same affection for these two goofballs.
At the end of the day, sequel or no sequel, Dumb and Dumber To is simply not funny. It lacks the punches, confidence and timing to really make us laugh. And to give you an idea of just how much it depends on its predecessor, the closing credits juxtapose like scenes from both movies. But all this does is remind us the Farrellys, Carrey and Daniels made a good movie back in 1994 and then copied it in 2014.