“Dumb and Dumber To” tries its best to capture the spirit of the original…

“Dumb and Dumber To” was directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, and written by Sean Anders, Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, John Morris, and Bennett Yellin. It stars Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Rob Riggle, Laurie Holden, Rachel Melvin, Steve Tom, and Kathleen Turner.

The original Dumb & Dumber has come to be regarded as…maybe not a classic, but one of the more memorable, funny mainstream comedies of the mid-90s.  It also features Jim Carrey in his prime in one of his definitive roles.  It really is impossible to imagine anyone else in the role of Lloyd Christmas.  The fact that a prequel was made with different actors boggles the mind.  So now, they’ve set out to make a follow-up and presumably “do it right,” with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels back in place and the Farrelly brothers at the helm.
Dumb and Dumber To calls to mind last year’s critically and commercially successful Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, another comedy sequel that came out years after the beloved original, with the same main cast/director(s).  And while that film was, at the end of the day, just okay, paling in comparison to its predecessor, it went down easily thanks to the great cast, a few choice moments, and a charming silliness.  That film may not have been particularly inspired, but it had personality and bore the unmistakable mark of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

But there was a nine-year gap between Anchorman films, less than half of the time between the release of the original Dumb & Dumber (1994) and its sequel, and it certainly feels that way.  The whole movie feels kind of lifeless and uninspired, as is so often the case with films (particularly mainstream comedies) written by four or more people.  Everyone involved seems to have forgotten how to do Harry and Lloyd right.  It all feels very self-conscious and unconvincing.

Jim Carrey seemed out of practice in the whacky physical comedy that made him famous, and is generally running on a lower gear than he did in the first film.  Jeff Daniels has a somewhat easier task in that he was never really a comedic icon known for any particular thing.  He is perfectly serviceable as Harry here, but doesn’t get any unforgettable moments (e.g. the first film’s toilet scene). The writing is fairly weak as well.  The film is in short supply on actual jokes, and heavy on Harry and Lloyd “acting silly/dumb.”  There are maybe three chuckle-worthy bits in the film where the idiocy of the main characters is utilized in a fresh way.

Several jokes are outright repeated from the first film and several memorable things are brought back (Billy the Blind Kid, played again by Brady Bluhm, the dog car, etc.), but they aren’t used in a new way at all.  There’s also one moment in the film where our main characters are implausibly dumb.  Their characters were compromised for the sake of another “funny” moment.  And I haven’t even gotten into the Family Guy-style cutaway gags, which in addition to being unfunny are not in the spirit of Dumb & Dumber.  And let’s not forget the excessive, distracting use of pop songs!

Dumb and Dumber To is a film that will do nothing for those who haven’t seen the first and will irritate those that have.  The film is now playing.

-Anthony Joseph Calamunci