Before we begin, I would like to touch briefly on the subject of sequels. As we all know, Hollywood has been putting out sequels with surprising regularity. A good sequel is supposed to use the original film as a jumping-off point, using established characters and setting to explore new situations and tell a story that demands to be told; a good sequel should be better than the first film. A bad sequel is often created to cash in on the success of the first film, and spends its time mired in reverence of its predecessor, rarely establishing its own identity or improving upon the original. Despite having some charm and the unmistakable wit of the Farrelly Brothers, “Dumb and Dumber To” leans into bad sequel territory.
For anyone familiar with the plot of the original film, “Dumb and Dumber To” will seem eerily reminiscent of the first film, as much of the plot is blatantly copied from it. Two friends, Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) must take a roadtrip to deliver a package to its rightful owner. Along the way, they use a ridiculous mode of transportation, are hounded by hitmen and one of the eponymous duo pines for the affections of the female supporting actress. The first film’s suitcase full of money is now a billion-dollar invention, the dog car is now a zamboni, hitmen Karen Duffy and Mike Starr are now Laurie Holden and Rob Riggle — who both act far too goofy to play the straight man to the duo’s ridiculous antics — and the attractive socialite Mary Swanson is now Harry’s attractive long-lost daughter. These parallels are not beneficial to the sequel, however, as it only served to remind me (a fan of the original film) of the originality and superiority of the first film.
That being said, the film does have some redeeming qualities. Daniels and Carrey appear right at home on set, using their traditional style of over-the-top, lowbrow humor that put the two stars on the map. Both actors (especially Carrey) have tried to perform serious roles in past years with particularly shoddy results, and the film feels like a true return to form for the first stars. The frenetic delivery of gags keeps the pace up, and any unfunny jokes are forgotten quickly enough that it becomes hard to dwell on the failings of some of its stinkers.
The movie does try to keep many balls in the air: wacky slapstick, sight gags, gross-out humor and self-reference, so there is something for everyone, but I found many of the jokes unfunny, and I spent much less time laughing then I thought I would. The more lascivious jokes in particular, which felt in-character for the young actors, sometimes come across as creepy and perverse from the aging stars. The movie does take the lowbrow approach to comedy, and fans of meta-humor or sophisticated comedy will be left disappointed. However, if you can turn your brain off and lapse back into your giggling 13-year-old self, you’ll be entertained, but likely left unsatisfied.
Although the Farrelly Brothers have recently chosen to work on artistically devoid films such as “Movie 43,” this film represents a possible return to form with some of the spark of their early-’90s gems. However, the jokes and humor seem a bit dated and stale in this decade as the aging Daniels and Carrey, while still funny, lack the youthful energy that made the first film stand out. Furthermore, the blatant self-reference prevents “Dumb and Dumber To” from forging its own identity, and any comparison only draws attention to the superiority of the original. “Dumb and Dumber To” doesn’t revitalize the franchise. Instead it simply serves to remind us that it exists, and nostalgia isn’t a substitute for wit. While I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the film, there is enough humor to make the overall experience pleasant. If you do decide to go see it, leave your brain at home. You won’t need it.
Rating: 3 stars