REVIEW BY NATHAN LERNER/For 21st Century Media
The 1994 Farrelly brothers’ film, “Dumb and Dumber” featured a pair of pathetic knuckleheads, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), who go on a cross-country road trip amidst tasteless jokes and pranks.
After a merciful two-decade respite from their shenanigans, the boys are back to do “Dumb and Dumber To.” The misspelling of the number, “two,” in the film’s title is as funny as this vehicle gets. Of course, the numbering pointedly ignores the 2004 prequel, “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.” Sans the Farrelly brothers, Carrey, or Daniels, that ill-conceived botch depicted the two titular characters as high school students.
This time around, Lloyd and Harry go on a cross-country road trip amidst tasteless jokes and pranks. Does that sound just a tad redundant?
What have the characters been doing for the past twenty years? An early scene addresses the issue. Lloyd has been confined to a Rhode Island state mental hospital. After being subjected to a lobotomy and electroshock therapy, he is mired in a catatonic stupor.
Ever the faithful friend, every Sunday, Harry shows up to visit Lloyd. While there, Harry dutifully changes Lloyd’s urostomy bag and soiled diapers, wiping him each time.
It turns out that Harry needs a kidney transplant. He advises Lloyd won’t be able to continue the weekly ritual. At that point, Lloyd reveals that he has perpetrated an elaborate practical joke on Harry. He has been faking it for 20 years . He bellows with comic zeal, “Gotcha!”
Is Harry upset at being duped? No indeed. He marvels at his friend’s commitment to pulling off the sustained hoax.
Harry is angry at his parents and hasn’t spoken with them in over twenty years. When Harry advised them that he was gay, the disapproving parents kicked them out of the family house. However, it turns out that Harry merely feigned the sexual orientation simply because he was tired of mowing the lawn.
Now, Harry desperately needs a kidney. His chances of finding a compatible match are enhanced if the donor is a blood relative. So, accompanied by Lloyd, Harry swallows his pride and visits his estranged parents. They turn out to be an elderly Asian couple (Michael Yama, Nancy Yee). Somehow, it never occurred to Harry that he had been adopted.
Harry’s parents give him the mail that has accrued over the past two decades. It includes a postcard, from years before from Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), a woman who Harry had once dated. It advised Harry that she was pregnant.
Harry and Lloyd track down Fraida, who works at a local funeral parlor. Fraida advises Harry that she had given up her daughter for adoption. Once Harry realizes that he has a blood relative, he and Lloyd embark on a journey to track down the woman (Rachel Melvin). Will they be able to convince her to donate a kidney to the biological father she never knew?
The original “Dumb and Dumber” was the debut film by co-writers/co-directors, Peter and Bobby Farrelly. The low budget affair grossed $250 million domestically. Back then, Carrey and Daniels harbored higher aspirations and spurned offers to make a sequel. The rubber-faced comedic actor, Carrey, interspersed more schlock with a pair of high-minded films, “The Truman Show” and “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Daniels was a highly regarded serious actor, who had interrupted his career to slum it in “Dumb and Dumber.” Afterwards, he continued his work with the non-profit Purple Rose Theatre Company that he had founded in his native Chelsea, Michigan and resumed high-brow fare. This included his Tony-nominated role in Broadway’s “God Of Carnage;” the film, “The Squid and the Whale and the Squid,” and his Emmy-generating role in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO series, “The Newsroom.”
Meanwhile, the Farrelly Brothers displayed fleeting moments of promise with “Kingpin” and “There’s Something About Mary.” However, for the most part, they continued to crank fare, dominated by gross out humor. “Dumb and Dumber To” is yet one more horrendous addition to their résumé
At the nexus of “Dumb and Dumber” and its sequel is the salient fact that the filmmakers are mocking two guys with limited intellect. That is apparently not enough to satisfy the Farrelly Brothers. Here, they mount a series of offensive vignettes. A young blind man, a wheelchair-ridden Stephen Hawking stand-in, and a morbidly obese character bear the brunt of the Farrelly’s cruel sense of humor. Just for good measure, throw in some animal cruelty, homophobic jokes, and patently racist stereotypes.
Pandering to the lowest common denominator, “Dumb and Dumber To” is too dumb to endure.
“Dumb and Dumber To” *1/2 PG-13 (for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references) 109 minutes
Film critic Nathan Lerner sees more than 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at email@example.com.