Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references

Dumb and Dumber To has some good chuckles, but it's otherwise a pale shadow of the original that doesn't work as much more than a '90s nostalgia bomb. Nearly everyone involved seems to be just going through the motions, most of the best jokes were in the trailers, gags that weren't especially funny the first time get repeated and driven into the ground, and overall, it's pretty pointless. Harry and Lloyd deserved better than this.

Set twenty years after the original, Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas are on a quest to find Harry's long-lost daughter Penny from his one-night stand with his old girlfriend Fraida Felcher, as Harry needs a kidney transplant, his biological parents are dead, and Penny may be the only match. Upon meeting Penny's adoptive parents, they get swept up in a plot by her mother Adele to murder her scientist father and acquire his valuable new invention to sell to the highest bidder. Now, they have to go to the KEN conference in El Paso to deliver the invention to Penny, who's giving a speech at the talk in place of her father, who's ill from Adele's poison. Adele, meanwhile, sends her lover Travis with the two to kill them and return the invention to her.

Much like in the original, the gag is in the stupidity of Harry and Lloyd, as they spectacularly fail to realize just how deep in shit they are. The difference here, however, is that nobody seems to be trying. Carrey and Daniels are sleepwalking, making the funny faces they did twenty years ago but with none of the energy, and a talented supporting cast is wasted on one-note characters like Kathleen Turner's grumpy, middle-aged Fraida and Laurie Holden's evil matriarch Adele. Really, the lone bright spot in the cast was newcomer Rachel Melvin as Penny, a gorgeous and ditzy female counterpart to Harry and Lloyd. Penny could've easily been the most annoying character in the film, but Melvin felt like the only one in the whole movie who was having any fun or even trying, going all-out with the role and making me wish that she didn't have such little screen time. They should've made this movie about her, with Harry and Lloyd's stale throwback gags kept to a minimum just for nostalgia's sake, rather than wasting her like they did here.

This is a problem that comes up throughout the film as it progresses -- the best jokes are crowded out by running gags that wear out their welcome quick. I'll admit, I laughed at some of the callbacks to the original, but watching this made me realize just how much that film was a case of lightning in a bottle. Seeing all the best gags repeated twenty years later with little in the way of new twists on them, they just felt stale. This was not made by the same Farrelly brothers who, back in the '90s, were virtually comic gods. No, this is a product of the late-career Farrelly brothers who, in the last decade, have buried their reputation with stinkers like Hall Pass, the remake of The Heartbreak Kid, and the recent Three Stooges adaptation. When I saw the third "shrub shove", I was like "again?", while the funny gags are never built upon and are just left to sit there. The plot is nonsensical -- which was also true of the first film, admittedly, but without that film's great humor keeping it upright, here the problems are a lot more noticeable and are made worse by some new ones. For instance, while I could've bought two total dumbasses like Harry and Lloyd as somewhat functioning members of society when they were in their late twenties/early thirties, by this point, with both of them middle-aged, it's inconceivable that Harry hasn't followed Lloyd into a mental hospital. 

Score: 2 out of 5

Dumb and Dumber was a product of its time and should've been left in that time. This follow-up has a few bright things going for it, but otherwise, it's just recycled garbage. Only watch it if you just have to see how Harry and Lloyd turned out after all these years.

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