I’ve never known a bigger fan of Dumb and Dumber than Tim, my brother-in-law. I’ve known him since he was in high school and remember when he used to watch that movie so much, it kind of worried me. It got to the point where he’d watch it with the sound off and quote it, line by line. I love that movie but really, Tim loved it in a way I reserve for films by Stanley Kubrick or Terrence Malick.
So of course, when it came time for the sequel (let’s just pretend that dreadful prequel never happened), it was essential that I bring Tim with me. Sure enough, his presence only confirmed my overall view of the film. For about the first 40 minutes, we laughed like jackals. Then, around the time a hit man subplot takes up too much focus and the big laughs became too few, we both realized that, sadly, this belated sequel wasn’t going to deliver.
The story picks up with Harry (Jim Carrey) and Lloyd (Jeff Bridges) now on a quest to find the long lost daughter Lloyd had with a one-night-stand (played by Kathleen Turner, a great actress slumming it in a truly hideous role). Along the way, they incur the wrath of a pair of grifters, a hitman, a building full of scientists and everyone else who crosses their path.
Initially, Tim and I laughed a lot. Carrey and Daniels are amazing to watch, making it look so easy to slip into their famous roles and embody their boundless idiocies. Carrey is so fully in his element here, evoking the same crazed energy and go-for-broke approach for laughs, it’s as though we were watching a performance unveiled from 20 years ago.
Watching Carrey spar with Daniels, it’s like he was still the breakout star of Ace Ventura and best known for talking out of his derriere. Likewise, Daniels so completely immersed into the mindset of his child-like doofus, I almost forgot I’m watching a serious dramatic actor.
The jokes are cheerfully vulgar and the one-liners are shockingly un-PC, in a manner that, like the work of the two leads, made me wonder if the screenplay was also unearthed from 1994. There’s no point in complaining that the movie is stupid but it does become awfully plot-heavy and stale, both in its subplots and the jokes.
Rob Riggle is one of the funniest actors in movies right now and Laurie Holden (who co-starred with Carrey in The Majestic) is so appealing and gorgeous that she could have been a movie star in the 1940s. Together they’re playing a couple of marry-the-old-guy-and-take-his-money con artists and, strangely, this part of the movie doesn’t click. It’s odd to see Riggle and Holden trying but failing to ignite the same character types Rob Lowe and Bo Derek played with amusing panache in Tommy Boy.
The same general plot scenario of let’s-find-my-kid was the basis for the Robin Williams/Billy Crystal fiasco, Father’s Day. The subplots growing around the central story are as unnecessary as the cocaine-in-diaper-bag crime plot that hurt the otherwise charming Three Men and a Baby. Much of this feels old hat, which shouldn’t be a surprise from a sequel to a 20-year-old movie.
Too many comic dead spots and an unsatisfying wrap up take the (flatulent) wind out its sails, as some of this is uproarious. A gag involving, of all things, an address on an envelope had me roaring. So did most of the first act, when it seemed Carrey, Daniels and The Farrelly Brothers directing team had pulled it off. Biggest tell-tale sign it doesn’t fully come off: the scene that made Tim laugh the hardest was the quick bit after the end credits. Not exactly a glowing endorsement from the biggest Dumb and Dumber fan I’ve ever met in my life.