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‘Dumb and Dumber To’: Long awaited nostalgic sequel? Or a movie no one really asked for?

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In the winter of 1994, an unlikely cult classic was born. Jim Carrey, flying high off the success of his Ace Ventura franchise, teamed up with Jeff Daniels and The Farrelly Brothers’ (pre Something About Mary) for Dumb and Dumber. The result: a flawed screwball comedy that scored box office gold, but ultimately gathered adoration from a niche of fans and left some of mainstream America bewildered.   

Twenty years later, the cries of fans have been answered with Dumb and Dumber To. Is the resurrection of this twenty-year-old comedy classic worth the wait, or is it just too late for anyone to care?

Some things have changed since we have left our brainless duo back on 1994. An older Harry (Daniels) is suffering from a possibly serious kidney failure and will need a transplant. He still finds time to visit best friend Lloyd (Carrey), who slipped into a catatonic coma years back when his love affair with Mary Samsonite fizzled.

After an opening gag pertaining to Lloyd’s coma that has already been divulged in trailers and TV spots, Harry and Lloyd are up and running on a brand new adventure. Harry discovers he may have a long lost daughter conceived many years ago with one Freda Felcher (a bored Kathleen Turner). After tracking down Freda, the duo learns that there was indeed a child, but she was given up for adoption. Secretly aware that Harry needs a kidney, both propose a mission to track down the estranged girl in an effort to reunite the family and hopefully procure the organ from her at the same time.

As in the first film, the plot is nonsensical, a mere set up to watch Carrey and Daniels milk and mug the camera for laughs. One cannot fault either of the actors. Despite some awkward moments, the two reasonably slip back into the characters of Harry and Lloyd that audiences fell in love with years ago. Their natural chemistry and physical slapstick is still in abundance, and it’s especially nice to watch Carrey, a gifted funnyman --- bite into this juicy low-brow comedy apple with salacious glee. The reason the movie works at all is largely due to the efforts of both actors.

That said, just because the actors are game doesn’t mean the material matches up to their eagerness. The Farrelly Brothers have long passed their heyday, and sadly, that is still evident here. The screenplay and pacing in Dumb and Dumber To is spotty and lukewarm overall, funny in spurts and forced in others. Sometimes the idiocy of Harry and Lloyd is too “on the nose” and other sequences just fail to replicate the comic magic that the original effortlessly created. Although a handful of gags fly high, too many hit the floor with a thud.

Although the Farrellys’ show glimpses of getting their terrific 90’s mojo back during the first half (a scene in a nursing home is hilariously vintage), they really botch the film during an endless third act. Equipped with one of their trademark over the top endings, the film culminates as simultaneously unfunny and tedious. Trimming about a half an hour off of the end result would have helped matters tremendously.

Many older films would celebrate a 20th anniversary with a special edition Blu-ray and perhaps a brief reappearance in mainstream theatres. Kudos to everyone involved who wanted to deliver something a little more special with Dumb and Dumber To. The result just isn’t that great. Let’s hope the trend continues though.

Here’s to a Romy and Michelle sequel in the very near future. 

 

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com

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Photos: New Line Cinema