There was a period of time when writer/directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly were the kings of mainstream American comedy. Their comedic sensibilities skewed toward the scatological and crass (which is not automatically a bad thing), but their first two films backed up their juvenile sense of humor with genuine heart and established them as a playground gross king equivalent to John Hughes. That first film was 1994’s Dumb and Dumber, a road comedy starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, a pair of exceptionally dim-witted best friends from Rhode Island who travel all the way to Aspen, Colorado to return a suitcase full of money to a wealthy heiress that Christmas, a limo driver, instantly falls in love with. The movie benefitted from the chemistry between budding star Carrey and Daniels, an established actor whose dramatic tendencies initially made him a hard sell for the part, and the combination of the Farrelly’s gross-out comedy and the screenplay’s bumbling road movie antics.
Dumb and Dumber was a huge hit for New Line Cinema, grossing $247 million worldwide, and remains a cult classic to this day. With the exception of the critically lauded There’s Something About Mary and their second project with Carrey Me, Myself, and Irene, the Farrellys haven’t reached those critical or commercial heights since. Almost 20 years later, they’re back to recapture some of the magic with Dumb and Dumber To, a comedy sequel that defies the odds by just matching the original laugh for laugh.
The story this time around will be familiar to fans of the original; Harry (Daniels) and Lloyd (Carrey) on yet another cross-country road trip to deliver another mystery package to another pretty face, this time Harry’s long-lost daughter Penny Pinchlow (Rachel Melvin) who may also be his only hope at a kidney transplant. Like any other road comedy, there are subplots abound, one involving a science convention, and another involving Penny’s adoptive mother (Laurie Holden) attempting to steal her super-scientist husband’s fortune with the help of a Special Ops agent played by Rob Riggle.
As it was before, the plot is always at the service of the comedy, here made up of sight gags, call-backs to the first film, and endearingly stupid one-liners. They vary on a scale from childish to flat-out juvenile, and depending on your tolerance for fart, genital, and dog car-related jokes, your mileage with this one will vary. The hardest thing about reviewing a comedy, especially one as joke-oriented as this one, is that the jokes are the movie, so describing them isn’t in the cards here. There’s nothing quite as funny as “the most annoying sound in the world” here, but Daniels judging scientific inventions is pretty close.
Like many other Farrelly movies, however, some of the jokes stretch far beyond the awkward point of no return; Carrey has a rep for awkwardly calling out younger women in real life, so to see Lloyd lusting after Penny throughout most of the film, given that and his awkward romance with Zooey Deschanel in Yes Man from 2008, is doubly creepy here.
Whatever missteps the film takes, it can’t be denied that even at 52 and 59 respectively, Carrey and Daniels are firing on all cylinders here, and their chemistry is as on point as ever. The screenplay, co-written by the Farrellys and a gang of other writers, feels breezy and relaxed, and supporting turns from Kathleen Turner and Rob Riggle add that zany 90s road movie texture that made the first Dumber so much fun.
Look. Dumb and Dumber To is exactly what it looked like; for better or for worse, this is Dumb and Dumber again, same structure, same stars, same writer-director, same toilet humor and dim-witted craziness — and I laughed my ass off through most of it. If your old videotapes of the first one are worn at this point, this is the movie for you. If you’re intrigued by the idea of 50-year-olds having Slushies poured down the front of their pants, this is the movie for you. Dumb fun that sounded even dumber on paper, but Dumb and Dumber To proves that the Farrellys and their leading men still know how to scare a snot bubble out of hiding.
Dumb and Dumber To is in theaters everywhere today!