Friday, November 14, 2014

Dumb and Dumber To

Dumb and Dumber To
Dir. Bobby and Peter Farrelly

1 out of 5

The bulk of this review is going to sound very strange - perhaps even hypocritical - given that I consider 1994's Dumb and Dumber a fart-lighting, pee-drinking, diarrhea-blasting lowbrow comedy masterpiece.  It's juvenile and vulgar in a fun, rascally way that made sense in the Farrelly Brothers' directorial debut.  Two decades and several dispiriting films later, the Farrellys return to the well with Dumb and Dumber To, a recycled appeal to lowest common denominator attitudes.  It is, in fact, so vile that it should have us reaching for better mathematical metaphors.  It's a negative integer.  It is absolute zero.  

The plot is ostensibly about Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey), two lifelong friends who today we'd undoubtedly describe with the words "high-functioning," reuniting to locate Harry's heretofore unknown daughter (Rachel Melvin), the product of his tryst with local floozy Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner).  However, I prefer to imagine it as a dystopian science fiction story about two lovably childish men, who in their middle age have been abducted by aliens and replaced by petty, lecherous, racist, misogynistic, and generally unpleasant cyborgs.  Dumb and Dumber To plumbs new depths in stereotypical humor simply by virtue of its incredible laziness.  When it's revealed that Harry was raised by adoptive Asian parents, you better believe that someone is going to confuse his Ls and Rs - and just to prove that they're capable of writing fresher material, the Farrellys toss in a "me love you long time" joke.  You can practically hear the facepalming of Charlie Chan himself.

To be fair, Dumb and Dumber To has rude things to say to a lot of different people.  What’s perhaps more offensive is the way the Farrellys gleefully rob the corpse of their prior comedic triumph, trotting out snappy one-liners to use as catchphrases and rehashing some of the original's most inspired moments in depressing fashion.  Most of the time, it feels like a third-rate homage put together by hapless Dumb and Dumber obsessives.  There is perhaps no better metaphor for the movie as a whole - and please forgive me for spoiling one of the few successful jokes in the entire thing - than a scene where Lloyd and Harry miraculously recover their beloved "Shaggin' Wagon," Harry's old pet grooming van dressed to look like a large sheepdog, only for it to break down mere seconds into their joyride.

This film is completely saturated in ugliness, down to its horrendously cheap-looking sets and blatant tax credit locations: the guys' quest ultimately brings them to a TED-like tech conference, naturally located in...El Paso, Texas.  Here, the plot revolves around a case of mistaken identity which, obvious as it is, comes as a reprieve from the aimless gross-out gags and yokel humor.  And I never thought I'd say this, but the obnoxious mugging of Carrey and Daniels is actually the least bothersome aspect of the movie, and the only thing preventing it from complete disaster.  The reckless abandon of their antics give the gaping maw of humorlessness that is Dumb and Dumber To its only real jolt of energy.  They are clearly having a blast.  I’m glad someone did.  

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