Twenty years is a long, long time. I was five years old when Dumb and Dumber first hit theaters in 1994, so the madcap antics of Harry and Lloyd appealed to me. Fart jokes, sex jokes I was not yet old enough to comprehend completely, murder, slapstick, and two actors in their prime at the center of it all.
But as I’ve gotten older, so has the nature of comedy. Comedic films have gotten far more sophisticated with their dick jokes and has evolved beyond what it once was. But Dumb and Dumber To hopes we have just a bit more nostalgic room in our hearts for one more romp with these two goofs.
It’s just when you see what they’ve become, it’s hard not to feel ashamed for everyone involved.
Taking place twenty years after the events of Dumb and Dumber, Harry (Jeff Daniels) discovers he’s had a child with Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner) that he’s neglected for the past two decades. He wants to track down his kid now that he needs a kidney transplant, and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) wasn’t feeling it until he suddenly develops a crush for Harry’s young daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin). As the two set their sights on a cross country trip, some dumb stuff happens including murder plots, farts, and a whole heap of mean, mean jokes from cranky old men.
I should probably say this right off the bat; Dumb and Dumber To is an incredibly polarizing film. It’s a film dealing in extremes, so you’re either going to love it or hate it. There’s no middle ground. As is the case with most comedy sequels stemmed from a nostalgic property, To is content to wallow in what the writers ‘think’ made the original so appealing. I’ll commend To for doing its homework and delivering quite a few little tidbits for fans of the first film, but it’s like they focused on the completely wrong thing here. While Dumb and Dumber mined its laughs from Harry and Lloyd’s oblivious optimism toward the (literally) sh*tty world around them, To decides to roll around in that poop and hopes the smell doesn’t make you gag.
Seeing as many films as I do eventually takes a toll on you. As current films become so parallel to one another drawing toward an ever approaching horizon, I always hold out hope for something different. And that something to me was Dumb and Dumber To. As a big fan of the first film (I’d dare say that “I like it a lot”), I was ready to laugh at butts because not every film needs to be a thesis on the human condition. But (hah, see I laughed there) To, as the film explicitly points out, is “not as” funny. Sure there are potential laughs to be had (the “Stinker” beer gag is an interesting play between crude and intelligent, and the initial road trip fake out got one of the biggest laughs in the film), but they’re entirely hollow and forgettable. Harmless really until you get to the crux of most of these jokes. The film really takes a turn when you see these two fifty something year old men yell “Show us your tits!” and watch a girl bounce in her underwear because she’s “dumb.”
Then all of the harmless stuff begins to unravel. Dumb and Dumber To intentionally retreads old ground but, while that’d be fine if it led to new jokes, all that’s left are the bad ideas. I’m not sure whether it’s because these two actors are older, or if the tone of the film is intentionally more cynical than before, but Harry and Lloyd have become worse since we’ve last seen them. What was once two guys not spreading ill will toward others has led to full on attacks. Sicking a cat on birds, using colloquialisms like “Gran-gina,” unleashing many derogatory slugs toward women, and just tiredly prancing about in general. It kind of makes you question why anyone agreed to the sequel as it plays out like no one wanted to participate in To in the first place. There’s such an overbearing sense of “Why are we here?” (especially from Jeff Daniels) that insults your intelligence as a viewer.
It’s one thing to say these two guys are dummies, it’s another to call me one.
Dumb and Dumber To left me with such an overwhelming sadness. Leaving me to question whether or not I fabricated what little charm the first Dumb and Dumber has, To is a textbook example of why these years-in-the-making sequels shouldn’t happen. A battle of attrition that challenges the very limits of taste that somehow still wants folks to celebrate its existence.
Now even with all of that said, I’ll concede that some of you will still find the film humorous as different strokes/different folks are want to do. But I implore you to find something better. You know what? The first Dumb and Dumber just happens to be on Netflix Instant right now, and it hasn’t aged as badly as you’d think.