Film review: The Farrellys are no better with age

Twenty years after the original, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels fail to rekindle its idiotic charm in Dumb and Dumber To. Publicity photo. Twenty years after the original, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels fail to rekindle its idiotic charm in Dumb and Dumber To. Publicity photo.

Think of all the reasons you loved (or grew to love) the first Dumb and Dumber. It was goofy, gross, immature, idiotic and proud of it. Now take each of those qualities and tack on “in a bad way” and you’ve just described its sequel. Arriving 20 years later, yet still feeling undercooked, and with all the charm of a kid whose only bookmarks are shock websites, Dumb and Dumber To is far from the triumphant return of the Farrelly brothers to their gross-out heights and more of a reminder of how far they’ve plummeted.

Twenty years after they first crossed the country in search of Molly “Samsonite,” the pair discover the possible existence of Harry’s (Jeff Daniels) long lost daughter. On a mission of both personal and medical importance—Harry may need her kidney in order to live and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) has the hots for her after seeing her picture—they hit the road once again to El Paso where she is due to deliver a speech at the snooty KEN conference. Along the way, there are farts, balls, awkward cameos and punchlines to gags that can be spotted from the beginning of the scene. Remember: In a bad way.

Nothing much has changed for innocent Harry and scheming Lloyd, save for one thing. The lovable dopes with sometimes relatable, sometimes mountainous gaps in logic have been replaced by gross jerks who are only occasionally funny to watch. This is not because the characters don’t work or the actors aren’t committed; Daniels and Carrey are fully into their performances, which is commendable but not enough to breathe life into the stalest of redundant butthole jokes. No, the blame for this falls squarely on the Farrelly brothers.

Let’s compare the famous scene in the 1994 original where Lloyd taints Harry’s drink with Ex-Lax ahead of his date in an act of jealousy—it peaks with the most iconic shitting sequence in film history. Sure, it’s gross-out, but it wouldn’t have hit as hard without the setup and resolution. Really, it’s good filmmaking; the bathroom may be what we remember, but it isn’t the sum total of what’s funny. Now fast forward to the sequel, where farts and balls are the punchline, setup be damned. Had the original been made by the 2014 Farrellys, that famous scene may have been reduced to a closeup of the aftermath in the toilet bowl.

Further evidence of the Farrellys’ lost touch can be found in two revealing scenes. The first is a cameo from Mama June that wouldn’t have been funny even without the recent news that she has exposed her children to convicted sex offenders and is puzzling given the amount of time the filmmakers had to edit the scene before release. There was an audible gasp at the advance screening and not even a chuckle of acknowledgment. The second comes in the form of a closing montage over the credits that replays parts of the film, but curiously shows them side by side with similar (read: funnier) scenes from the first film, possibly hoping you’d forget what you just experienced and tug on your nostalgia to leave you with a positive impression.

Dumb and Dumber To is not without genuinely funny moments, but they’re so brief and spread out from each other that the whole movie could have been a 10-minute DVD special feature. Who knew we’d have to sink this low to fully appreciate the finer craftsmanship of Jeff Daniels shitting his brains out?

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