Review: Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

You can likely determine what your reaction to Dumb and Dumber To would be from your thoughts on its title. If you find the title stupid, you’ll probably find the film much the same, but if you find the title clever in its stupidity, you might have yourself a good time.

Dumb and Dumber To is a derivative sequel to the 1994 cult classic starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as two simple-minded men who embark on a road trip across America. It treads much the same ground as the first film, also following Carrey’s Lloyd Christmas and Daniels’s Harry Dunne on a road trip, this time to El Paso, Texas instead of Aspen, Colorado. Like its predecessor, its jokes can be hit or miss, but when it hits, it hits big. I also have the sense that many jokes will appreciate with repeat viewings. Dumb and Dumber To may be getting bad notices from the critics, but keep in mind the original was lambasted when it came out in 1994 but has since grown into a beloved cult classic. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dumb and Dumber To had a similarly long comedic half-life and became a perennial favourite on basic cable.

The story this time involves Harry and Lloyd going on a road trip to find Harry’s long lost daughter, whom he had through a youthful fling with Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner). The film opens with Lloyd in a nursing home, where Harry dotingly visits him every week, changing his diapers and trying to coax his old buddy out of his mental paralysis. Turns out (to no one’s surprise) that Lloyd has been faking, waiting to catch his best friend unawares and revel in the shock on his face. It says a lot that Lloyd has been waiting 20 years to find that sweet spot. Dumb and Dumber To doesn’t have quite the same patience in waiting for a gag. It throws one at you every five seconds, sometimes embedding some real visual zingers in the background of scenes.

Some of the verbal jokes fall flat, especially when they involve two crooks (Laurie Holden and Rob Riggle) trying to con a beloved old scientist. But the physical comedy is gold. Bobby and Peter Farrelly are not coy about their affection for old slapstick movies—they remade The Three Stooges for chrissakes! Most comedic filmmakers nowadays aren’t interested in slapstick—they’re going for observational humour and raunch. Even my beloved The Hangover movies mine their laughs from the misanthropy of their characters. That leaves the Farrelly Brothers to pick up the reins of slapstick and go for broke.

Jim Carrey, the most physically agile comedian of the age, still relishes every opportunity to contort his body and his rubbery face for a laugh. He hasn’t had much chance to display these talents on film lately so he really runs with it here, knocking it out of the park with two all timers. One involves the peculiar way Lloyd eats a hotdog, and another has him eating a banana and disposing of it in a horribly inappropriate place. The second joke epitomizes what I like about the Dumb and Dumber films. The joke is so simple and stupid, but the completely oblivious manner in which Carrey executes it and its perfect timing make it excruciatingly funny.

Do I wish Dumb and Dumber To had a better story that wasn’t so close to the original? Sure, but I don’t really care. Dumb and Dumber To is not a film I seek out for clever plotting or inventive structure. All that matters are the jokes, and any film that can make me laugh as hard as that banana joke did is a winner to me.

7 out of 10

Dumb and Dumber To (2014, USA)

Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly; written by Sean Anders, John Morris, Bennett Yellin, Mike Cerrone, and Bobby & Peter Farrelly; starring Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Laurie Holden, Rob Riggle, Rachel Melvin, Steve Tom, and Kathleen Turner.