Revisiting Dumb And Dumber may have sounded like a stupid idea, but Dumb And Dumber To removes all doubt.
Twenty years ago, the Farrelly brothers Bobby and Peter scored a hit with their comedy about two dim friends who commit acts of gross-out stupidity. Back then, getting rising star Jim Carrey and Woody Allen favourite Jeff Daniels to ride around in the Mutts Cutts truck, a dog-grooming vehicle kitted out with ears, a tongue and a tail, was an act of inspiration. This month, listening to Carrey trying to wring laughs out of “the second most annoying noise in the world” feels more like an act of desperation.
Just minutes into the film, Harry Dunne (Daniels) tests your gag reflex by holding a bag of urine in his mouth. His best friend Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) has been catatonic for two decades, and Harry has been visiting him regularly at the care home, to change his adult nappies. However, it turns out Lloyd has been conducting an extended gotcha. Despite being pranked, Harry is impressed – “The shock treatments, the partial lobotomy? That takes commitment” – then helps free his friend from a wheelchair by hauling out his catheter with the help of two gardeners. This is not even the third most painful moment in the film.
The film insists that little has changed for Lloyd and Harry, even though Harry discovers he has a grown-up daughter (Rachel Melvin), the result of a brief liaison with fabled beauty Fraida Felcher, who now looks like Kathleen Turner and takes endless pelters in the movie for having grown older and wider. Turner is very game, and I do hope she was handsomely remunerated for this job, but it’s interesting that the movie barely acknowledges that 20 years might have changed Harry and Lloyd. In 1994, they were a pair of cartoonishly immature man-children. In 2014, they are two men in their mid-to-late fifties yelling “show us your tits” at a young woman. Behaviour that might be clueless in 1994 is plain sleazy by 2014.
Comedy also ages terribly; Dumb And Dumber pushed boundaries in its day but years of Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and The Hangover guys behaving badly makes Dumb And Dumber To about as transgressive as Horrible Bosses 2.
In fact, Horrible Bosses writers Sean Anders and John Morris have a screen credit here, along with both Farrelly brothers, Bennett Yellin and Mike Cerrone. All told, this six-man team made me laugh four times, which is a rubbish productivity ratio, especially when one of those laughs was a sight gag involving the still limber Carrey trying to eat a hot dog without using his hands. Nor does it feel as if anyone was in charge of finessing the convoluted plot, which makes pretzel twists to accommodate gags about poo, pee and Aids.
Without overinflating the original film, it possesses a certain squirmy charm, especially with Carrey at the peak of his physical comic powers and Daniels gleefully cutting loose to keep him company. On the other hand, the strained, farcical antics of Dumb And Dumber To are as bracingly joyous as a torn testicle – which also gets a scene in this movie.