Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: Dumb and Dumber To

by Adam Riske
This movie was an invaluable resource for me.

If I hear someone say they thought Dumb and Dumber To was funny, I know I should never listen to that person’s opinion on a comedy ever again. I sat in my seat during this movie wanting to laugh, willing to laugh, but one never came. Yes, you read that right. I did not laugh a single time during this movie. I had to entertain myself by looking over at people who were laughing and silently judging them. I felt bored and restless for much of Dumb and Dumber To.

That’s too bad, because I am a fan of the original Dumb & Dumber. After seeing the sequel I even worried that the only reason I enjoyed the first one was because I was 12 years old when I first saw it (luckily, I re-watched the original and it still holds up – it’s funny and generally good-natured). I wasn’t expecting much from Dumb and Dumber To, being that it’s a comedy sequel (which almost never work) and it comes 20 years after the original (which strikes me as a desperate nostalgia grab) but I was somehow still surprised that it met my already low expectations.
The plot in brief: It doesn’t matter. It involves the boys and Fraida Felcher, as if anyone cared about that backstory in the movie from 1994.

What’s surprising about Dumb and Dumber To is how lazy (there’s a definite lack of energy here; at least the original had a fun soundtrack to keep things moving), old-fashioned and mean-spirited it is, from the characters to just the material in general. Much has changed since the last time we caught up with Lloyd and Harry, and -- trust me -- you don’t want to know what a 50-something Harry and Lloyd are like. They are dirty old men who have soured with time. It’s disheartening to see that their meager life goals from the original never came true and now they are just coasting through life being assholes. At least give them the worm store!

The set pieces and the script are just awful in this thing. I mean, we’re talking shoving women into bushes, armpit farting noises and fingering an old bedridden woman. Who thinks this shit is funny?
The cast can’t be blamed in this case. I felt bad for them, because they’re all talented. They are just being given no good material to work with. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels slip into their old chemistry and they’re game, but they’re given no favors from the script so we have to resort to them mugging for laughs like they’re wringing out a wet towel. Laurie Holden, also from Carrey’s The Majestic, is on hand but given nothing to do other than be severe and suck Rob Riggle’s toe. Riggle tries and leaves little impact. I felt bad for Kathleen Turner, who is a source of ridicule for her aging appearance. The only cast member who comes off ok is Rachel Melvin ,who plays Penny, the progeny of Fraida and possibly Harry or Lloyd. She’s appealing and, in the only smart move of the filmmakers, is portrayed to be just as dumb as the lead characters. I wasn’t bored when she was onscreen and, at that point, I’ll take that.

I’m annoyed with writer-directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly because they haven’t thought out any reason for the audience to once again catch up with these characters. At least in the original we got some insight into the dreams and aspirations of these two dumb guys (“I’m tired of being a nobody….I’m tired of having nobody”) and here, in the sequel, we learn nothing new, interesting or of consequence about them. Even in a stupid comedy, you should have a reason for being. Plus, it might be just me, but the Farrelly style of comedy is so passé and of the '90s it’s to the point of being jarring in 2014. It’s stale like some old crackers.
I don’t think Dumb and Dumber To is a terrible movie, but I know it’s pretty damn bad. At 110 minutes, it’s way too long -- especially once you realize the filmmakers are not going to be trying anything new. It’s content with repeating the structure and some of the gags from the original to lesser results. It’s never surprising and the laughs are often telegraphed thirty seconds before the eventual punchline (a scene with a smiley face tattoo comes to mind).

It seems to me that Carrey, Daniels and the Farrellys enjoyed working together on the original; they were all in need of a hit and tried to capture lightning in a bottle once more. Unfortunately for the audience, they did not succeed. What a disheartening trend it has been over the last 15 years to see the once transgressive and audacious Farrelly Brothers become such cinematic limp dicks.


  1. I can't argue with much of what you said, but I had a strange experience. I feel like I forced myself to have a good time. A buddy and I got together, watched the original, and then went straight to see the sequel. I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy my time though I wouldn't say I enjoyed the movie itself. The pictures during the end credits kind of summarized where my head was while watching.
    It is not a good movie, I understand.
    I think I may have been one of the guys you were secretly judging in the theater and for that I apologize :)

    1. I shouldn't have judged the other people. That was me being a tool but I was genuinely curious what they were responding to.

    2. Just joking, dude! I judge people all the time and am proud of it. Actually, just this afternoon, I watched this guy eat pizza with pineapple on it...PINEAPPLE! What a dolt!

      Seriously though, I would not recommend D&DT to anyone. I was just sharing a vibe that still allowed me to have a good time. Kind of like eating a hot dog at a ball game. The hot dog is shit, but the environment let's me enjoy it more than I should.

    3. I think we have all been guilty of judging fellow audience members from time to time. I was holding very low expectations before but I am going to stay away from this film for sure now.

    4. I was judging every 13+ son of a bitch enjoying Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014 natch) and I will not apologize for that. I judged myself for being there at all.

      Last night I saw people leaving Dumb and Dumber To (baaaahahahaha - not only is it not "2" it's not the correct spelling of "too" - baaaaahahahaha - wait, I don't get it) as I was leaving John Wick (which kicked my dick (in the best possible way)) and no one looked happy - I'd describe their expression as "perturbed confusion". I thought maybe someone urinated in their popcorn butter but now it all makes sense. I will both avoid this movie and eat the theatre's popcorn with renewed confidence.

  2. The flick is two hours long, there's probably a gag a minute, and I chuckled three times the entire time. Not laughed, chuckled. I couldve forgiven the fact that these characters are far more over the top and unbelievable this time around. I couldve ignored Carrey and Daniels being old as piss. Id even settle with the clunky plot that's a retread of the first, IF IT WAS FUNNY. But it isn't funny in the slightest, and for me in the running for worst of the year.

  3. Damn. Another film I was looking forward too. Thanks for letting me down gently. Ah well. Good news is Wolfcop is out here on Bluray so save money on pictures and buy Wolfcop instead

  4. Just got back from the theater. There's really nothing in the review I disagree with. The main characters were more mean-spirited and even stupider than in the first movie. Especially Harry, who was an occasional voice of reason to Lloyd's idiotic ideas in the first one (albeit a quiet voice), had turned into a super-idiot in the 20 years in between.

    Also, what threw me was that the entire cast was a bunch of crazy cartoonish characters. The original was somewhat grounded in reality, which emphasized these two oddball characters, but in here, everything is a cross between an Adam Sandler movie and a Wile E Coyote cartoon.

    Wish I'd checked the site before going, it might have persuaded me to spend my evening doing something more fun, like watch paint dry.