Dumb and Dumber To is not required viewing but, with Carrey and Daniels back in the starring roles, the sequel delivers a fair number of enjoyable (though moronic) laughs.
20 years after their original road trip misadventure, Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) reunite in Dumber and Dumber To. Following heartbreaking rejection at the hand of Mary Swanson, Lloyd was committed to a mental care facility – where he has lived out his thirties and forties in a catatonic state. For two decades, Harry visited his childhood buddy on a weekly basis – until he is faced with a life-threatening medical problem of his own: Harry needs a new kidney and time is running out.
Confronted by the potential death of his friend, Lloyd is forced out of catatonia – eager to help Harry find a matching organ donor. However, just as all hope appears to be lost, Harry and Lloyd discover a long-lost letter from their former lover, Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), who wrote Harry years back to inform him that she was pregnant with his child – before giving the baby girl up for adoption. Armed with the prospect of a healthy new kidney, Harry and Lloyd hit the open road in search of Fanny Felcher (Rachel Melvin).
Sibling filmmakers Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly return to helm Dumb and Dumber To – from a script by Mike Cerrone and Bennett Yellin (who worked on Dumb and Dumber‘s screenplay). As a result, given that the original film’s stars, directors, and screenwriter all contribute to the new installment, Dumber and Dumber To stood a decent chance of providing more than a shallow cash grab – since it was developed by the same minds that made its predecessor a memorable (and quotable) 90s comedy staple. Yet, in spite of the talent involved, Dumb and Dumber To is only a passable, and ultimately underwhelming, follow-up – a film that will, without question, provide fans with laugh-worthy antics but does little to actually refresh the format for modern filmgoers. Instead, the Farrelly Brothers manage to skate by on nostalgia and recycled gags – delivering a familiar but significantly less memorable continuation for Harry and Lloyd.
The original Dumb and Dumber storyline provided a straightforward foundation for a unique blend of outrageous comedy bits, as a pair of likable (albeit brainless) protagonists set out on a misguided quest across the country, only to become unwitting heroes in a larger story of cops and criminals. Dumb and Dumber To treads very similar beats but is significantly less coherent. For the original, the Farrelly Brothers produced a tightly edited comedy where every scene included sharp laughs or key information but in their sequel, the filmmakers throw anything they can at the audience – a clumsy effort that includes some heart-warming/gross-out laughs as well as an equal number of mean-spirited/desperate set pieces that add absolutely nothing to the film.
Both Carrey and Daniels are comfortable in their respective roles but this round their performances are, in spite of high-energy antics, less enthusiastic overall. In fact, the balance between the two leads is pretty disjointed: Daniels speaks his lines but mainly looks for his co-star to sell the punchlines whereas Carrey, in turn, makes Lloyd even louder and more obnoxious than he was twenty years back. Each of the headliners get quotable moments in the spotlight but any highs aren’t enough to distract from the fact that Dumb and Dumber To is a step back for Harry and Lloyd as well as Carrey and Daniels (who both enjoyed plenty of post Dumb and Dumber success).
Fortunately, in addition to a few clever cameo reappearances from key Dumb and Dumber characters, Rachel Melvin is a surprising bright spot as Fanny Felcher (aka Penny Pinchelow). The former Heroes and Days of Our Lives actress is afforded several of Dumb and Dumber To‘s freshest comedy scenes and does an admirable job of channeling Harry and Lloyd’s witless charm into a twenty-something young woman. She might not always be the funniest aspect of the sequel, where heavy-hitting jokes are often reserved for Carrey and Daniels, but Melvin is easily one of the most intriguing new additions.
Supporting players are par for the course – apart from a blink and you’ll miss it cameo from Bill Murray. Kathleen Turner (Californication) puts an aged face to franchise namedrop Fraida Felcher – though, aside from a few heartfelt dramedy beats, the character is mostly defined by her promiscuous past. Still, at least Turner is given more to do than Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead) – who is routinely overshadowed by the rest of the cast, especially Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street). The comedy actor takes on a similar role to Joe “Mental” Mentalino (Mike Starr) from the original movie, serving as a malevolent henchman in pursuit of Harry and Lloyd, and even though Riggle doesn’t diverge too much from the sarcastic crazies he typically plays, there’s no denying his interactions with (and reactions to) Daniels and Carrey are entertaining to watch.
By playing off its predecessor, Dumb and Dumber To often riffs on audience expectations – providing some truly fun surprises or evolution of repurposed jokes. Though, in spite of twenty full years since Dumber and Dumber, the sequel includes very little biting insight into how times have changed – even if the goofy protagonists remain the same. Instead, the Farrelly Brothers choose the easiest and most generic path to laughs in nearly every scene – resulting in a movie that would have been largely unchanged had it actually come out a few short years after the original. Without taking any major risks and throwing the iconic morons into new situations, Dumb and Dumber To is just a bloated mix of disconnected gags stitched together into a storyline that is neither as funny or charming as its source installment.
For that reason, Dumb and Dumber To is a harmless but completely unnecessary sequel – one that should provide enough guilty chuckles and unobjectionable comedy bits to be worthwhile for moviegoers with a strong interest in seeing Harry and Lloyd again. That said, for those on the fence, the sequel is inferior in every way imaginable, with humdrum performances, clumsy direction, and a meandering storyline that never come close to matching the quality or hilarity of Dumb and Dumber. Like the series prequel, Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, Dumb and Dumber To is not required viewing but, with Carrey and Daniels back in the starring roles, the sequel delivers a fair number of enjoyable (though moronic) laughs – making it only the second best/worst chapter in the Dumb and Dumber trilogy.
Dumb and Dumber To runs 110 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references. Now playing in theaters.
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