As many as six writers are credited with putting Dumb and Dumber To on the screen, and still there’s no mistaking that stench of desperation and creative exhaustion that the film so badly reeks of. Sure I found myself laughing intermittently while watching this sequel to Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s much loved 1994 hit Dumb and Dumber. But that’s mostly out of a sense of loyalty and respect for Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels who sportingly embrace the film’s ultra-lowbrow humor and throw themselves into whatever ridiculous, disgusting scenario the Farrellys have plotted for them.
Like in the first movie, dimwitted best friends Lloyd (Carrey) and Harry (Daniels) set out on a road trip, this time in search of the grown daughter that Harry never knew existed, but who might give him the kidney he desperately needs.
As anyone who’s watched the Farrelly Brothers’ better films will agree, there’s usually a layer of sweetness and warmth that tends to offset the innumerable shit and fart jokes that their movies invariably trade in. But Dumb and Dumber To is surprisingly mean-spirited. Gays, blind people, and an ageing Kathleen Turner are frequent victims of hostile gags and cruel one-liners. Not to mention the particularly creepy running joke about Lloyd’s interest in Harry’s young daughter.
One of the big problems with this film is its overdependence on old gags. The lazy writers seem confident that we won’t complain if they stuff the film with jokes that we enjoyed the last time around. But I’m not paying three hundred bucks to watch Carrey blow mouth spray in the wrong direction again, or to watch the two men smell each other’s farts repeatedly. I’ll just rent the first Dumb and Dumber film for that.
Still, to be fair there are about six jokes that do work. Like one in which Lloyd and Harry have a telephone conversation with each other while seated on the same couch. Or the bit in which they send back their ‘funky’-smelling drinks in exchange for new ones. Even the scene where Harry introduces Lloyd to his cat Butthole – because, well, it has one – evokes a laugh, for the sheer sincerity with which Daniels delivers the line.
It’s that goofball sincerity, that endearing stupidity that made us fall in love with these two idiots 20 years ago, but those ingredients are in short supply in the new film. Don’t get me wrong – Jim Carrey still has that rubber-band elasticity that allows him to contort his face and body in ways that only he can, and Jeff Daniels with his frizzy mop cranks up the madness with an aggression we didn’t see the last time around. It’s the fact that they’re now both in their 50s and willingly submitting to this lousy script that makes you look at them with pity instead of affection.
I’m going with one-and-a-half out five for Dumb and Dumber To. It’s awful in so many ways you’d have to watch it yourself to realize just how low the bar has fallen. But please don’t.