Retrospective Follow-Up: Dumb and Dumber To

The moment I saw my review for “Dumb and Dumber” posted on this website, I knew I’d wind up seeing its recent sequel, “Dumb and Dumber To,” sooner or later. Part of me was dreading it, because I had heard bits and pieces about what worked and what didn’t work in the movie; “it’s just the first movie again, the jokes are tired, it’s not as good as the original,” and so on ad infinitum. But another part of me was looking forward to it, because one of the things that I had heard and one of the things I had gathered from the trailer was that the dynamic between Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels is still there; they are still the same numbskulls that we fell in love with 20 years ago. And I am here to confirm that: Jim Carrey is still Lloyd and Jeff Daniels is still Harry, and they work wonderfully together onscreen. As for the rest of the movie, while it’s not as good as “Dumb and Dumber,” it’s still had me laughing quite a bit, and when the film harkened back to the time of the original, I enjoyed it even more.

In “Dumb and Dumber To,” Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) has been committed at a mental hospital in a seemingly catatonic state for 20 years since the first film, with Harry Dunne (Daniels) coming to visit him every Wednesday without fail. However, as revealed in the trailer, Lloyd was faking being catatonic, all for a gag, and now the dynamic dumbasses are back in action. After revealing that he needs a new kidney, Harry first tries asking his parents to donate one of theirs; but we, hilariously, find out that that’s not entirely possible. We do, however, learn that a woman from Harry’s past, Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), sent him a postcard in 1991 saying that she was pregnant. They learn from Fraida that she gave up her daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin), now 22 years old, for adoption after she was born, and Harry and Lloyd offer to track her down to help Fraida reconnect with her biological daughter and to hopefully get a kidney for Harry. This part of the movie felt different enough from the plot of the first movie that it was a nice change of pace and made me think, “hey, these characters work in different, but similar, situations.”

However, they eventually run into the same plot as the first movie; attractive female leaves package behind, Lloyd falls in love with her despite barely knowing her, road trip to return the package and get the girl ensues. I guess it’s true what they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, because from that point until the credits roll, it feels like the first movie again, in every good and bad sense. Good because there’s still a lot of entertaining hijinks brought about by Harry and Lloyd’s collective stupidity, but bad because it hits pretty much every point of the first movie with only a few variations along the way. There’s also a subplot about Penny’s adoptive father’s new wife trying to kill him to inherit his fortune, and a groundskeeper that the wife is conspiring with, and oh my God, I have heard this all before; I’m pretty sure that this was a subplot in 2012’s “The Three Stooges Movie” (which I will NOT be reviewing, by the way), and at least 3 billion soap operas and movies before it had that same tired subplot. Well, it felt tired in those movies and TV shows, so why the hell should it be any different here? Well, there’s an identical twin thrown in for good measure, which makes it … okay … ish. It makes that subplot okay-ish. Being a sequel that takes place 20 years after the original and being released 20 years after the original, “Dumb and Dumber To” is full of references to the 1994 film that started it all: Billy in 4C, the blind kid that Lloyd sold a dead bird to in the first movie, is grown up (and played by the same actor) and has an extensive collection of rare exotic birds, with one named Siskel who spouts movie quotes on command; Lloyd has an over-the-top fantasy where he saves the girl and winds up visualizing her front as the front of a vehicle, which still works and is an appreciated callback; and most notable of all, the dog van that Lloyd sold in the original makes an appearance (though, spoiler alert, it’s not in the movie for long). These callbacks are nice, but they sometimes feel a bit too forced and cause the plot to really feel like the first movie again. But, again, it’s not broken, so don’t fix it.

Despite my gripes about the plot of the film, the actors themselves do a pretty good job, with two obvious standouts. Daniels and Carrey are wonderful in this movie. They don’t feel exactly like the same Harry and Lloyd that we met in the first film; they feel like Harry and Lloyd plus 20 years, which is really important to show some sort of character growth. It would have been so easy for them to just act the exact same way that they did 20 years ago, but they don’t; they feel older, and not in a bad way. They feel like seasoned veterans of stupidity, and their onscreen chemistry is wonderful to behold. Rachel Melvin is actually pretty good as the female lead, though she’s mostly there to be pretty and to be someone for Lloyd to fall in love with and to act very much like both Harry and Lloyd, in that she is a complete and utter idiot … but damn it if she isn’t attractive. The other actors are pretty entertaining as well; as with the first movie, the way that they react to Harry and Lloyd’s stupidity is always good for a laugh, and it’s great that some people in the film actually realize that these guys aren’t amazingly skilled at getting out of tight spots; they’re just idiots. There are also some great cameos by various actors that you probably wouldn’t even notice if you’re not looking for them, but when you find them, it’s nice to say “oh hey, it’s that guy!”

So, after all of the things said, is “Dumb and Dumber To” a bad movie? Not at all. It’s great comedy with two great actors in the lead roles. And besides, “Dumb and Dumber To” and the original “Dumb and Dumber” are meant to be just what their titles suggest: dumb, but in the best way possible. A lot of comedy movies that try to be funny nowadays try to be funny with just stupid jokes, bad references, and unknown actors with no onscreen chemistry; the “Dumb and Dumber” movies (minus that prequel that shall not be named), on the other hand, have great stupid humor mixed in with the phenomenal chemistry between Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Fans of the original movie will enjoy the callbacks to the 1994 cult classic, and everybody else will find something to laugh about in this movie. Take it for what it is; it’s not as good as the original, but so few comedy sequels are. It won’t make you Dumber, but you’ll feel a bit more in touch with your Dumb side.

Score: 6/10

By Joey Sack

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