“That’s Butthole. I found him out in the alley.”
All the way back in the early to mid 90s, Dumb and Dumber was a bit of watershed moment. Jim Carrey had already done Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, but he was still a The Mask away from being the biggest paid comedy star in Hollywood. And the Farrelly Brothers were still two movies away from making There’s Something About Mary, one of the highest grossing comedies ever. Dumb and Dumber kind of defined a brand of silly, gross comedy that would dominate the genre until a decade later when Judd Apatow would take over with his man-child, heartfelt gear. So now, 20 years later, is there still a place for silly, gross comedy? Well, Dumber and Dumber To definitely does its best to find out.
Harry (Jeff Daniels) visits Lloyd (Jim Carrey) in a mental hospital. He’s been in a catatonic, wheelchair bound state since the end of the last movie. Only, he hasn’t really been catatonic. It’s all been an elaborate prank. It’s a joke that worked when I saw the trailer months ago, and it’s a joke the works here. But they can’t bask in the glory of the prank forever, because Harry has some bad news. He’s sick and needs a replacement kidney from a blood relative. Visiting his Asian parents, Harry finally learns that he’s adopted. But he also learns that he has a daughter from a romance before the events of the first movie.
Tracking down his ex, played by Kathleen Turner, which then leads to Harry’s daughter’s adoptive family, Harry and Lloyd meet Dr Pinchlow, a philanthropic genius. They also meet his wife, who is trying to kill her husband and take his fortune. Soon, because this is a Dumber and Movie and therefore requires a road trip, Harry and Lloyd are headed to find Harry’s daughter and deliver a billion dollar invention from Dr Pinchlow. All while travelling with Rob Riggle’s Travis, an accomplice in the planned murder of Dr Pinchlow.
If you’ve seen the original Dumb and Dumber, all of that probably sounds pretty familiar. Dumb and Dumber To follows the exact same story line, beat for beat. And while that kind of thing came off as lazy and cynical in The Hangover Part II, there’s something about the wide eyed, innocent fun of Dumber and Dumber To that makes it OK. It’s in the nature of Harry and Lloyd that they would make these exact same mistakes in the same order again and again, for the same reasons.
Or maybe I’m just being an apologist because this move made me laugh so many times, and I feel a little guilty. The Farelley Brothers have had a pretty bumpy career since their early successes, but they’ve always known how to write dumb jokes with the best of them. And no characters deliver dumb better than Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.
You can see Carry and Daniels having the time of their lives reprising these characters, and it had enough of a little nostalgic kick to make me enjoy it too. Sure, I won’t watch it over and over and over like I did the original, but if we had to have a Dumb and Dumber sequel, Dumber and Dumber To is way better than I think anyone would have ever expected, or thought they could even hope for.