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Front Page - Friday, November 21, 2014

Definitely dumber

The Critic's Corner

David Laprad

From the “be careful what you wish for” department comes “Dumb and Dumber To,” a long-awaited sequel to the 1994 comedy starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Written and directed by the Farrelly brothers, the original film told the story of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, two good-natured but dimwitted friends who set out on a cross-country trip to return a briefcase full of money to its owner, only to be pursued by a group of criminals who are after the briefcase. Copious scatological high jinks ensued.

Written and directed once again by the Farrelly brothers, the sequel tells the story of Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, two good-natured but dimwitted friends who set out on a cross-country trip to deliver a box containing a new invention to a tech conference, only to be pursued by a group of blockheads who are after the box. Copious scatological high jinks ensue.

I feel like a churl for complaining, but what choice do I have? The film is packed with lame gags, scenes that go “thud,” and just plain head-shaking stupidity. The only nice thing I can imagine anyone saying about “Dumb and Dumber To” is that Carrey and Daniels, who reprise their roles, went all in. Maybe they had a good time getting together with the old gang, or maybe they enjoyed the opportunity to act like teenage boys again, or maybe they really like these characters, but they gave each lame gag, each scene that goes “thud,” and all of the head-shaking stupidity every bit of the energy and spirit they poured into the first film.

An example of the humor: Harry and Lloyd have made it to the conference (oops, sorry about the lack of a spoiler alert), and are looking to score free drinks. So they pour what’s left of several beers into two glasses, shove their hands down the backs of their pants, wrap their fingers around the rims of the glasses, and then tell one of the organizers their beers smell bad. The lady sniffs Lloyd’s beer and makes a horrid face, then she goes to sniff Harry’s beer, only he wipes her nose with his finger before she gets to the glass. Their ruse is a success, and they both score free beers and two baskets of chips. They both want to try the chips the other one was given, so they feed each other using the hands they’d crammed down their pants. Harry even licks Lloyd’s fingers.

Ho, ho.

Now here’s the thing about the movie: As I thought back on the two of them feeding each other chips using their dirty fingers, I gagged. But as I recalled Harry wiping his finger on the woman’s nose instead letting her smell his glass, I laughed. As bad as “Dumb and Dumber To” is, I did chuckle – occasionally. Whether you’ll laugh enough to make giving the film your time and money depends on how well you think the Farrelly Brothers’s special brand of transgressive humor has held up over the years.

I think they should shove their schtick in a time capsule and bury it. Back when Ben Stiller gave Cameron Diaz a special something for her hair-do in “There’s Something About Mary,” or when Lloyd incapacitated Harry with an overdose of laxatives in the first “Dumb and Dumber,” their low-brow comedy was the stuff of big laughs. But as I sat through a decently attended showing of “Dumb and Dumber To,” only one person laughed consistently. Audiences have moved on from gross out humor, but the Farrellys are still wallowing in it. Unlike the lady who got our leading men free beers, the only thing I smelled was desperation.

I suppose if you have a soft spot for the original movie, the sequel might have some value as nostalgia. I’m getting all warm and fuzzy about seeing Han, Luke, and Leia in action again in the new “Star Wars” film; maybe “Dumb and Dumber To” is your sequel to “The Return of the Jedi.” Other than that, don’t feel too bad about skipping it.

One star out of four. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language, and some drug references. David Laprad is the assistant editor of the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. He also laughed at the cat farting parrot feathers after eating several of the exotic birds, but didn’t want to admit it in the main body of the review. Contact him at dlaprad@hamiltoncountyherald.com.