Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne are back for the first time in twenty years and while this should be grounds for celebration, the result is a movie that can be considered a disappointment regardless of where your expectations are set. Dumb and Dumber To strips away the charm and goofiness its predecessor in favor of broader and more tasteless humor designed for increasingly cheap laughs. Though some of the jokes do land, the majority of the film feels like a desperate cash grab from the Farrelly Brothers, whose best days of comedy are clearly behind them.
For the uninitiated, Lloyd, played by Jim Carrey, and Harry, played by Jeff Daniels, are best friends and idiots who unwittingly find themselves caught up in misadventures that send them across the country. This time around, Harry and Lloyd find an old, misplaced postcard from their mutual flame Fraida Felcher (one of the many callbacks to the original film) that alleges Harry as being the father of her child. When the two meet face to face with Fraida, played by Kathleen Turner, she explains that she gave the child up for adoption years ago, which prompts Harry and Lloyd to set out and find her.
I’ll stop there because, let’s be honest: the plot is not the focus of this movie, nor was it the focus of Dumb and Dumber either. These films live or die by the punchlines and sight gags but this time around, the humor usually falls flat because the element of surprise and discovery is completely dissipated. As usual, Jim Carrey gives it all that he has here but Jeff Daniels just looks tired and embarrassed through most of Dumb and Dumber To. Even the often reliable Rob Riggle can’t manage any laughs as a hopeless chaperone forced to travel along with the two imbeciles.
Clearly there was just a lack of inspiration and creativity that went into this production. It inexplicably took six writers, including the two Farrelly Brothers, to produce a script that just does not give the actors anything to work with. It also paints Harry and Lloyd as more obnoxious and mean-spirited than we’ve seen them before, whether they’re “nerd bashing” at a TED-like conference or blatantly insulting women based on their appearance. There used to be a sweet charisma to these characters that has since been misplaced, which makes it more difficult to find a rooting interest in them.
Despite these criticisms, this film has the joke-a-minute pace of the original and I did laugh at a fair amount of material throughout. While they were mainly laughs that I felt guilty about the next day, I did sporadically enjoy being in the presence of these goofballs once again. One of the funniest scenes involves fireworks shooting off in a car and the subsequent hearing loss that renders Harry and Lloyd oblivious to an oncoming train. Unfortunately, there’s not enough here to recommend to newcomers or even the most hardcore of Dumb and Dumber aficionados.