Walking out of the theater after screening Dumb and Dumber To, the long-awaited reunion of Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels and the Farrelly Bros., I couldn’t help but feel a little sad, if not slightly defeated.
To be sure, this was a film no one necessarily asked for, despite the original 1994 film being a mega-hit, grossing nearly $300 million at the box office, it was one of those classic comedies that seemed to say all it needed to say the first time around.
That there wasn’t a direct sequel closer to the original could be chalked up to many reasons, foremost among them the meteoric rise of Jim Carrey, who practically owned 90’s comedy, and whose reported $20 million-per-picture salary after a long string of hits was more than the original Dumb and Dumber‘s $17 million budget.
Not that there wasn’t an attempt to keep things going, mind you. 2003’s Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd was the result of trying and failing to get Jim Carrey to reprise the role of Lloyd Christmas, marking the first time that a sequel or prequel had been made to a Carrey film for which he declined to reprise his role. Others to follow were Son of the Mask, Evan Almighty, and Ace Ventura, Jr.: Pet Detective.
The one thing those films all had in common? Each film was Box Office Poison.
Fast forward to 2013, with news that Carrey, whose star was much less brighter, and was no longer commanding those high-level salaries, agreed to star in a true sequel to Dumb and Dumber, where he would reunite with Jeff Daniels and the Farrelly Bros, whose last collaboration with Carrey was 2000’s Me, Myself and Irene.
Maybe it was the ever-present nostalgia pop culture seems to bathe in, but the idea of seeing the gang get back together, even 20 years later, was a welcome one. Unfortunately, Dumb and Dumber To simply cannot live up to expectations, much less come close to the original film.
If the movie were outright bad, giving it a negative review would be much easier, however, there is quite a bit in this film that works. Just as in the first film, Jim Carrey is hilarious and honestly hasn’t lost a day when it comes to his brand of physical comedy, and seeing it all over again only made me miss the razor sharp stupidity he fearlessly brought to the screen, but the as in the original, the true comic star here is Jeff Daniels, who plays Harry Dunne with the same level of energy and humor as he did 20 years ago.
The way that Carrey and Daniels so successfully play off of one another makes it easy to wish that they had better material to chew up the scenery with. In the end, the fault of Dumb and Dumber To‘s failure lies squarely at the feet of the Farrelly Bros, who, with four other credited writers, don’t seem to have an original idea among them, alternating between flat gags and rehashes from the original film.
What’s worse, while Carrey and Daniels shine, they completely manage to waste Rob Riggle and Kathleen Turner. Not knowing how to use Turner, who has great comedic chops of her own is one thing, but to fail to do anything with the comedic goldmine that is Rob Riggle, is a crime that should shove the Farrelly Bros. back into director jail.
But the gravest crime of all is to waste a monster cameo, but don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.
Who is it that’s gracing the screen in the Breaking Bad ripoff scene?
Bill Fucking Murray.
The same Bill F. Murray that starred in arguably the best Farrelly Bros. movie, 1996’s Kingpin. I didn’t even realize that Murray was in that scene, a scene with literally no comedic payoff whatsoever, until this morning, hours after I left the theater.
Again, it’s not that Dumb and Dumber To is a bad film, it’s that it’s an uninspiring, lazy effort on the part of the filmmakers, and in the end, that makes it an awful film. For every laugh, there came with it a crushing sense that this reunion could’ve been so much better for both the actors on screen and the audiences watching.
Hashim R. Hathaway (Uncle Shimbo) is the host of the Never Daunted Radio Network, and proud father to NeverDaunted.Net. You can reach him on Twitter @NeverDauntedNet