Dumb And Dumber To is an Impervious Film. What’s an Impervious Film? A film that cannot be ridiculed for having idiot characters and an idiot plot, because that’s simply the name of its game. Its decisions cannot be questioned; to question them would be to wonder why blue is blue and red is red. It’s a mindless comedy, so it must be measured like a mindless comedy. My Laugh-O-Meter says I didn’t laugh as much as I did during the first Dumb And Dumber (1994), which wasn’t very much to begin with, and yet, the more I dwell on this film, the more I remember how much I actually enjoyed it. I give it 2 stars not because it’s a bad film, but because I just cannot recommend it as a good film.
Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) are loveable creatures. They are too stupid to be blamed, too clueless to know any better, too innocent to be hated. They don’t have a single bad bone in their bodies. When Lloyd sees a photograph of Harry’s hot daughter and immediately thinks of fathering her children, he doesn’t take on the persona of a lecherous predator; he seems more like a little tyke flipping through the pages of Playboy for the first time.
What’s this about Harry’s hot daughter? Dumber And Dumber To keeps the nostalgia to a minimum. It introduces a bunch of characters we’ve never heard of before, which is a good thing. It opens more doors. One of them is Penny (Rachel Melvin), who is young, attractive and possesses about as much brain power as our heroes. She has her looks though; in today’s world that will take her far, and perhaps the Farrellys are making a point of that.
Harry opens a 22-year old letter and discovers that he might be Penny’s dad (her mum is played by Kathleen Turner, who played a man heroically on the TV show Friends and suffers a couple of weak sexist jokes here for her efforts). He and Lloyd take off across the country to find Penny, believing, rather sweetly, that he would make a good, honest dad and repay Penny for all those years he spent changing Lloyd’s diapers at the asylum.
Wait, Lloyd was in an asylum? Yep, that’s a joke the trailers have happily paid off for you.
The plot is pretty much standard practice. Harry and Lloyd make good on their road trip and entangle themselves in a nefarious scheme that might have worked in a film noir had the movie been a film noir. There’s an old scientist (who happens to be Penny’s foster dad, played by Steven Tom) and his femme fatale new wife (Laurie Holden), who has secretly teamed up with the household handyman (Rob Riggle) to poison the patriarch and walk away with his billions. Set the movie in Los Angeles in the 1940s, eliminate all traces of comedy, add some Venetian blinds and puffs of smoke and you’ve got yourself a makeshift film noir. You could even convert Harry and Lloyd into damaged heroes and add a twist.
Harry and Lloyd arrive at the mansion seeking Penny, who has fortuitously left to El Paso to speak at the KEN Convention, a symposium for the greatest minds in science. This leads to a climax at the convention where Harry finds himself paying homage to Chauncey Gardiner by pretending to be a genius and getting a rise out of the audience every time his simpleton language is mistaken for sarcasm or even intellect. Here’s a taste: When briefed on a microscopic device that will cure cancer, his first question is “Does it sing?”. The crowd thinks he’s issuing a snarky put-down but we all know he’s dead serious.
Dumb And Dumber To is filled to the brim with jokes like this. Many of them work, many don’t. Yes, I found myself chuckling like a little boy a number of times, but nothing uproarious enough to knock me out of my chair. There’s a certain laziness to the film, as there was to the original Dumb And Dumber, but also a certain charm. Its real charisma is in Harry and Lloyd who, in the hands of Daniels and Carrey, remain paragons of devoted acting. They’re such nice boys. I’m afraid someone will hurt them. As Lloyd remarks: “It’s like you’re taking us to the middle of nowhere so you can kill us! But what would be your motive?”
Best Moment | I thoroughly enjoyed Daniels in this film. I thought he was effervescent. His parade through the convention was great.
Worst Moment | Can’t think of one right now, but the movie essentially delivers a buffet of possible Worst Moments. Just watch and take your pick.