3 years ago
Shyam Vedantam
Commentary

The sequel to the Farrelly brothers’ classic comedy “Dumb and Dumber” is an almost carbon copy of the original film. However, “Dumb and Dumber To” isn’t as iconic, and the jokes haven’t aged as well as Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels have.

In this movie, Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) must travel across the country to get a kidney from Harry’s long-lost daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin). There’s a convoluted plot involving a world-saving invention, backstabbing wives, assassins and hearing aids. Explaining the plot would probably take more time than was spent constructing it during the film’s development, even though six men share writing credits on the film. It doesn’t make much sense.

But that’s all right. In a comedy, what matters is not the situation or plot, but the ensuing laughter.

To address this, “Dumb and Dumber To” uses a quantity over quality approach. The film’s run time is 110 minutes, and there’s at least that many jokes. Among the fart and lame-pun humor, only about half of the jokes successfully yield a laugh. Other times, there’s an awkward silence as the entire theater watches a joke feebly die out.

The half that do work are sometimes great. The biggest laughs probably come from the Farrelly brothers playing around with the traveling montage trope. Lloyd and Harry ride on a bike to get to Harry’s house after Harry’s parents kicked him out.

Instead of showing the beginning and ending of the bike ride, the Farrelly brothers use a scene without edits to reveal that Harry has moved out of his house a total of three blocks. To find the long-lost daughter, they take a road trip to the address on an envelope, only to realize they’ve driven in a circle to the home address instead of Penny’s.

Carrey is still one of a kind in terms of his physical comedy. Daniels plays an excellent comedic and emotional foil to this. Sometimes, this works too well, and the tone is off. He’s “acting” in scenes in which Carrey is playing for the laugh. Daniels brings some of his Emmy-winning acting chops to a raunchy comedy that asks him to show his butt crack more often than not.

The supporting cast has a smaller role, but each actor gets a turn for some laughs. Laurie Holden, of “The Walking Dead” fame, hilariously overplays a femme fatale role. Kathleen Turner, as the birth mother to Harry’s daughter, holds her own in scenes against Daniels and Carrey. Rachel Melvin gets some solid laughs through making audiences believe that stupidity might actually be a gene that gets passed down the generations. Rob Riggle as an assassin isn’t used to his potential in terms of dialogue or writing, but his camouflage gags work twice. 

“Dumb and Dumber To” is like a high school reunion. Everyone has grown noticeably older and their jokes are a little too dated. Bill Murray in a “Breaking Bad” riff is funny, but is Mama June from “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” as a trailer wife funny anymore? High school reunions seem fun in theory but don’t leave anyone satisfied at the end.

“Dumb and Dumber To” will probably make fans of the original overly nostalgic. Those fans should stick around for the after credits sequence: another cameo, but this one successfully reprieves a character from the original film. Audiences new to the series might be intrigued enough to seek out the original, but on its own, the sequel likely won’t become a cult classic.

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