By: Kevin Jordan
Stupid is as stupid does.
The first thing I thought when I found out this movie was happening was “Who asked for this?” I understand that it’s pretty rare when people do ask for a movie (Serenity comes to mind), but were there really people out there sending messages to Universal Pictures insisting the studio tell us what happened to Lloyd and Harry after they gave directions to the Swedish Bikini Team? And if so, were those messages pranks or secretly hiding viruses or anthrax? Because, I don’t want to meet the people who were serious about a sequel (or those other message senders, for that matter). Besides – it’s been twenty years since the last movie; any fervor for a sequel would have died years ago anyway.
I’m sure the question you want answered is “how bad is this movie really?” The answer to that question is “not nearly as bad as you thought it would be.” Make no mistake; it’s a bad movie, but it has a couple of sporadic moments that keeps it from being completely putrid.
(Dumb SPOILERS ahead.)
Just as in real life for us, the film picks up twenty years later. Lloyd (Jim Carrey) is in a mental hospital, having never gotten over Mary (Sampsonite) Swanson and Harry (Jeff Daniels) visits him once week to change Lloyd’s diaper. Lloyd hasn’t spoken in twenty years and Harry informs him that he can no longer visit due to some personal business. At this, Lloyd finally mumbles something and then bursts into mock-laughter, revealing that his condition was just a twenty year prank. You see what the Farrelly brothers (writers and directors) did there? Are you already cringing? If you aren’t, the scene ends with Harry and two Latino gardeners trying to pull the catheter out of Lloyd’s penis; only succeeding in dragging him across the lawn. Yes – this is going to be a long movie.
Once back at Harry’s apartment (which is shared with a guy cooking crystal meth – egads!), Harry reveals that he has kidney failure and needs a transplant. Lloyd refuses to donate one of his, so they go to Harry’s parents’ house to ask them and also let the audience know that there are going to be a lot of unfunny race jokes. You see, Harry was actually adopted by a Korean couple, but never made the connection. Why aren’t you laughing? This isn’t the end of the race jokes; there will be another gag about Chinese Canadians and one involving a black Englishwoman. Hi-frickin-larious.
Anyway, the movie goes nostalgic on us (another running theme) and we end up meeting the legendary Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner) after Harry reads an old letter from her insinuating he’s the father of her daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin). Fraida reveals that Penny refused to write her back, so to kill two birds with one stone (or lots of birds with one cat – another nostalgic gag involving blind Billy from 4C), Harry and Lloyd agree to track down Penny for Fraida and also ask Penny to donate a kidney to Harry. If this doesn’t sound amazing familiar, here’s Peter Farrelly said in January of 2013: “I love the script. It’s exactly like the first one.” Trust me; he’s not kidding.
As I’ve pointed out in the past and which has been demonstrated time and time again, comedy sequels never work because they always end up rehashing the jokes and plotlines (and yes, I’m shuddering at the upcoming Horrible Bosses 2 and Hot Tub Time Machine 2). What was funny, original, and clever in the first film is redundant, tired, and redundant in the sequel. Throughout Dumb and Dumber To, you get rehashes of Lloyd’s daydream date with Lloyd’s romantic interest (complete with ninjas and a semi-truck), a rich person trying to steal money (Laurie Holden), our two heroes riding with a guy who wants to kill them (Rob Riggle), a prank on said man that nearly kills said man, dead birds and a blind kid, Binaca, costumes for a big gathering, and a mysterious package that must be delivered to Lloyd’s romantic interest. Ol’ Petey really wasn’t kidding.
Maybe I could have forgiven all that if the movie had actually been funny. There were a couple of times when I giggled, though none of them had to do with our returning characters. Riggle and Melvin provided a couple of good moments leading to those giggles, but the rest of the film was a slog of intense boredom. Besides the rehashing of old jokes, the film doubles down on the dumb exhibited by Lloyd and Harry and not in a good way. In the first film, their dumbness seemed accidental and innocent and made Harry and Lloyd endearing. This time around, it felt forced and intended, making Harry and Lloyd annoying. The flattest jokes come in the form of misused words and phrases, almost as if the Farrellys had purchased Bob and Tom’s “Joe Johnson’s Vocabulary Builder-Upper” and written every word into the script (Google it if you want an actual laugh). I don’t remember them ever butchering the English language in the first film, so it made no sense here and there was certainly nothing funny about it.
If the recycled story and jokes weren’t enough, the lousiness of the movie is punctuated by none other than Carrey and Daniels themselves. I wouldn’t say they turned in bad performances – though Daniels delivering his lines as if he was wearing a retainer was both bad and uncalled for – there just wasn’t any chemistry between them. After twenty years, Carrey still hasn’t figured out that he isn’t the only person in a movie and Daniels appeared not to care at all that he was actually in a movie. If there’s anything to be learned from this failure it’s that even twenty years isn’t enough time to convince one’s self that comedy sequels are a stupid idea.
Rating: I’d tell you to ask for all of your money back, but you aren’t dumb enough to hand it over for this film in the first place. Right? RIIIIIGHT?