Review: 'Dumb & Dumber To' is an Amusing But Bad Comedy Sequel
by Ethan Anderton
November 14, 2014
It's hard to believe that 20 years have passed since The Farrelly Brothers brought audiences the silly comedy Dumb & Dumber. It was the directorial debut of Peter & Bobby Farrelly, and they were lucky to land the rubber faced comedy star that was Jim Carrey just as his career skyrocketed following the release of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask earlier in the same year (yes, all three of these movies came out in 1994), and his pairing with Jeff Daniels was more than intriguing. Now here we are 20 years later, and the lovable idiots Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas are back for another road trip in Dumber & Dumber To, and while the energy is still there, the comedy just doesn't land the same after two decades. More below!
It's amazing that Dumb & Dumber To even exists, but what's more impressive is that the sequel feels like no time has passed aside from the aged faces of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. The script for this sequel is exactly what it would have been if it was written a year after Dumb & Dumber was a huge hit, save for the fact that Harry would probably be chasing down some other lost family member to get a new kidney instead of his estranged, adult daughter, the equally dimwitted, but bright and bubbly Penny (Rachel Melvin). Other than that, this is a road trip that hits all of the same finer points of the first road trip with enough nostalgia to please fans, along with new gags to bring about some amusing and occasionally surprising chuckles.
However, it's not enough to make this a good comedy. Part of the problem seems to be the fact that comedy has changed in 20 years. While The Farrelly Brothers once had a niche in directing immature adult comedies full of quirky characters, sometimes oddly dangerous subplots and a little bit of grossout humor here and there, they began to falter following Me, Myself & Irene, the last comedy that I truly enjoyed from the duo, mostly due to the free reign that Jim Carrey was given to cut loose as the Rhode Island trooper with advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage. What might have worked back in the mid-90s just doesn't bring the same laughs today in the age of Step Brothers, Anchorman, The 40-Year Old Virgin and other drastically different successful comedies of today.
But what's truly mystifying is at the same time the film falters because of changing comedy tastes, there's almost something admirable and ambitious by the fact that Peter & Bobby Farrelly didn't really change their humor for this sequel. In fact, if this movie was released just a couple years after Dumb & Dumber, it probably wouldn't be getting panned nearly as much as it seems to be today. There are some discrepancies though, mostly that the film occasionally, though briefly, gets much more cartoonish than its predecessor.
While the first film was silly, it was mostly grounded and believable (outside of the wild dream sequences), largely thanks to the characters of Harry & Lloyd having such a charming, clueless friendship. This one takes things a little over the top in some quick jokes where the duo bathe in a nuclear power plants runoff reservoir, and end up glowing radioactively for part of their journey, immediately followed by a shot of them slowly outrunning a tornado. Another sequence sees Lloyd unfathomably quickly climbing a very tall tree to the tippy top just to get a cell phone signal. It's just a little too wacky when compared to the first movie.
For those just looking to enjoy the sequel for nostalgia's sake, you may not be disappointed. There are some great obvious references to the first film, including a clever return of the infamous Mutts Cutts dog van, and there's also some music cues lifted straight from the first film, which work pretty well. In fact, the sequel is basically a carbon copy of the first film in many ways, including new dream sequences that Lloyd has as he becomes romantically interested in Harry's much younger daughter. Harry even gets his own dream sequences this time, and rightfully so since it's his character motivating the road trip this time. But there's more than just the one this time, and it's a little too much.
On the more grounded side of the story, Rob Riggle and Laurie Holden play the people of intrigue this time, putting our characters in danger. The two are slowly poisoning the adopted father of Harry's biological daughter in hopes of inheriting his estate that he's made as a brilliant scientist. Riggle makes for a fun road trip companion, and we get to see some more pranks and road trip annoyances unfold as he joins the two across the country in an effort to keep their dastardly plans on track so as not to be ruined by these two morons. Again, there's some laughs to be had, but just not on par with the first film.
The saving grace of this generally bad movie is undoubtedly Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. They throw themselves into this movie 110%, which is almost why the ignorance of the changing face of comedy doesn't matter and results in some big laughs. Whether it's Lloyd being confused and shocked when someone speaks Chinese, or Harry's ignorance of his meth-cooking roommate, there's moments in the film that work infinitely better because of Carrey and Daniels' dedication to these goofballs. Sadly, it's not enough to save the film from being a messy follow-up that just offers too little too late.
In the world of comedy sequels, Dumb & Dumber To probably accomplishes exactly what The Farrelly Brothers set out to do. Unfortunately, it's just about 18 years too late, and in a world where the directing duo just can't keep up with today's sense of humor (as evidenced by their attempt to do so in Hall Pass). In the Farrellys' effort to stay true to the unique first film, they're retreading familiar territory a little too closelywith a storyline that pretty much follows the exact same beats, but not with the same precision and successful comedy that made the 1994 modern comedy classic such a favorite. Compared to a sequel like Anchorman 2, whose predecessor became just as beloved as Dumb & Dumber, this sequel doesn't fare nearly as well in bringing new laughs to the table. If you're a fan of the first film, I would only recommend seeing Dumb & Dumber To just to put your curiosity to rest, but you'll likely be disappointed.
Ethan's Rating: 5 out of 10
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