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Review: Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

Directed by: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly

Premise: A sequel to the 1994 film. Twenty years after their last adventure, Harry and Lloyd (Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey) go a road trip to find Harry’s long lost daughter.

What Works: Dumb and Dumber To reunites the key contributors from the original picture: filmmakers Bobby and Peter Farrelly and actors Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey. It’s well known that much of the success of the first film was due to the combination of the writing and directing efforts by the filmmakers and the improvisations of the performers and the four of them have reteamed to make a successful comedy. The job of a comedy is to make the audience laugh and whatever its faults this movie does that. The key strength of the first film was its consistency. The original Dumb & Dumber kept piling the gags on top of one another and that is true in the sequel, if in a diminished quantity. Dumb and Dumber To is in some ways a more outrageous film than the original and that aspect distinguishes this film as a sequel. Dumb and Dumber To comes twenty years after the original film and the 1994 picture has become one of the most popular and beloved comedic films ever made. Because of the popularity of the first movie and the time that’s elapsed between installments, one of the appeals of Dumb and Dumber To is nostalgia but the filmmakers do not entirely pander to the audience. When filmmakers create sequels, especially follow ups to classic films, there is a tendency to play it safe and replicate the original film. Dumb and Dumber To channels just enough of the original picture but without recycling so much that it feels repetitive. That’s where the more outrageous tone of the sequel distinguishes this film. The moviemakers took some risks, reaching for more mature humor and pushing the likability of the characters. In the very least, the filmmakers of Dumb and Dumber To ought to be credited for making a film that is recognizable as a follow up to the original picture while justifying its own existence and delivering a steady offering of laughs. 

What Doesn’t: Making a sequel to a classic and well-loved film is almost always a fool’s errand, especially when the follow up comes so long after the original film. Those who watched Dumb & Dumber in its original release or grew up watching and rewatching it on home video are probably going to approach this sequel with the same impossible expectations faced by movies like Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace; viewers expecting to experience a movie the way that they did twenty years ago are destined to be disappointed. Regardless of what the moviemakers did right or wrong, there is no way for the sequel to live up to the expectations of viewers with such an attachment to the original film. That said, Dumb and Dumber To is a flawed movie. As is so often the case with the Farrelly Brothers, the humor is hit and miss. In this case the hits outnumber the misses but there is a notable shift in tone between the first Dumb & Dumber and the sequel. In the first film, Harry and Lloyd were stupid but there was also something likeable about them; the characters were a bit like the family dog, dumb as a post but loveable in their stupidity and enthusiasm. That film also had its share of gross out and sexual gags and yet it was a definitively PG-13 picture with even the most coarse gags tempered by an underlying sweetness. Dumb and Dumber To is a dirtier and meaner film. The set pieces and jokes are rougher than the first movie, some of the gags push the limit of the PG-13 rating, and Harry and Lloyd’s behavior sometimes boarders on psychotic. Dumb and Dumber To is also nowhere near as memorable as its progenitor. The original Dumb & Dumber was the most quotable comedy since Ghostbusters; the sequel is about as memorable as Ghostbusters II.

Bottom Line: Dumb and Dumber To is not the classic that the original film was and it is unlikely that in twenty years anyone will regard this film as anything more than a footnote. However, that is an unfair way to judge a movie and Dumb and Dumber To accomplishes what it was intended to do—further the adventures of its central characters and make the audience laugh.

Episode: #519 (November 23, 2014)