I felt like watching a no-brainer after sitting through one and a half hours of solid filmmaking in the form of The Spectacular Now. Don’t ask me why, but Dumb And Dumber just happened to be my poison of choice. Here’s a movie I’ve never seen in its entirety. The parts I have seen — the funny ones — have lingered in the back of my mind like a dormant volcano. After watching this movie, the volcano has erupted.
I remember very clearly the jokes about Mr. and Mrs. Samsonite, about the van that looks like a dog, about the bottles of beer that don’t actually contain beer. I also remember the wonderful gag involving Lloyd chasing after a pretty woman at the airport and ultimately falling out of the boarding tunnel onto an empty tarmac. These funny moments must have stuck with me because I thought they were hilarious when I watched them some umpteen years ago. Now, strangely, they’re not as funny, and jokes I hadn’t previously experienced are holding the reins and tickling my funny bone instead.
The biggest laugh this movie earned from me comes near the end. Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) have run out of luck, money and women. Their fiasco in Aspen has crashed with a nasty bombshell. They’re rather dejected. They walk along a desert highway, kicking rocks and looking like a couple of upset toddlers. Along comes a bus filled with attractive babes dressed in bikinis. They’re on a tour of the country and require a couple of hunks to butter them up before each photoshoot. Harry and Lloyd give each other a double-take. Could this be? Has their dream come true? “You’re in luck!”, Harry exclaims. And then he says something so ridiculously stupid that my only reaction was to smack my forehead and laugh.
I’ve realised that this kind of humour is where Dumb And Dumber — and the Farrellys by extension — is at its best. I can do without the toilet comedy. When Lloyd sells a decapitated parakeet to a blind boy, that’s funny. When Harry floods the toilet bowl with his own poop, and then pours it out the window because the flush isn’t working, that isn’t funny. And sadly, there’re a lot of unfunny bits in this movie. The Farrellys have an inexplicable passion for their toilet humour. In their most renown work, There’s Something About Mary, Ben Stiller’s character traps his gonads in his pants zipper, the movie’s most memorable scene. Later, Cameron Diaz’s character uses Stiller’s ejaculatory liquid as hair gel. It’s all very funny. But it’s gross too. In that movie, the Farrellys had a way of skirting round the obscene bits to make them facetious. Here, they prefer to jump right into them. Though, in their defence, there’s nothing in Dumb And Dumber as disgusting as the semen hair gel, unless you count the pee-filled beer bottles.
I also enjoyed the chemistry between Carrey and Daniels. Carrey is known for roles like this, especially in his formative years. His rubber face made him a star in the Ace Ventura movies, and here he’s given a dorky haircut that seems to say “The face is merely an attachment”. Daniels, on the other hand, who has always been so good at the deadpan comedy, blends right in and is able to match Carrey’s boundless energy. Call me a nut, but I preferred his performance to Carrey’s. Harry is more grounded — slightly — and by being more grounded, he’s funnier.
It’s a pity, then, that I didn’t laugh as much as I hoped I would. There’s promise in the actors and the story, but for some reason the jokes fall flat. It’s as if the naive silliness of Harry and Lloyd is enough to make the things they do funny. You know what, guys, it isn’t.
Best Moment | The joke I mentioned.
Worst Moment | The other joke I mentioned.