Franchise Fred is conflicted about Dumb and Dumber To. As you may know, I truly believe there should always be sequels to everything, indefinitely. I stand by that. Even though the long awaited sequel doesn’t quite do the job, now that they’ve gotten it out of their system, hopefully Dumb and Dumber Thre will be great. At least it’s still better than Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd.
The opening scene explains exactly why we haven’t seen Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) for 20 years. It’s cute, but not hilarious. This time they set off on a road trip to find Harry’s long lost daughter, who his high school fling (Kathleen Turner) gave up for adoption. The daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin) is giving a speech at a science conference, so Harry and Lloyd have to meet her there, along with several other characters in an appropriately convoluted plot to hang comic set pieces on.
The 20 year wait may have caused the most problems. Franchise Fred believes you should get on your sequels right away. It’s the surest way to maintain the cast and filmmakers. This reunion feels like Carrey and Daniels may not actually remember the characters they’re playing, so instead of returning to Lloyd and Harry, they are doing brand new impressions of what they think dumb characters would be like. That’s no good. Harry and Lloyd were actual characters we liked, not just vessels for mugging.
Was Lloyd always an asshole? I mean, I know he was a troublemaker with the laxative prank, but he never seemed out to do harm. Now he’s aggressively picking at sore subjects and making fun of the different, be they overweight, elderly or dead bodies he defaces in a mortuary. Differently abled actors still pop up in non-judgmental roles, so bravo to the Farrellys for keeping that up, but it doesn’t excuse pot shots at the elderly and overweight.
Lloyd is dirty too, making lots of vagina jokes. I mean, their sexual puns may be in character, but I don’t recall Lloyd being a pervert. Animal cruelty, intentional or accidental, already left a bad taste and really should not be a crutch on which a good comedy depends. Now it’s escalated to lazy, hateful proportions. Harry and Lloyd are no longer lovable misguided scamps. They have become mean bastards who may have just turned down any educational opportunities to spite society. Sure, they killed a man in the first film, but the pills were an honest mishap.
The sequel is rather inconsistent with their stupidity. Lloyd figures out the math of how old Penny would be from when she was conceived, because the plot needs him to. The plot needs a lot of things to be figured out, when it should depend on idiotic misunderstandings. This is really complicated. The first film was based on a misguided crush and returning a suitcase. Too much of the idiocy in To is predictable, so the payoff is no surprise. Then every once in a while there is a truly inspired bit of stupidity that reminds us what this could be.
It feels like the script was overdeveloped. They had a script years ago but then delayed it and kept working on it. That script couldn’t have been any worse, and might have been simpler without all the convoluted plot mixed in, perhaps missing a few of the more ill conceived set pieces.
What’s really missing is the innocence of Harry and Lloyd. Perhaps they have just been tarnished by 20 years of age and cynicism, but screaming, “Show us your tits” is neither dumb nor dumber nor funny. Nuances like innocent stupidity get lost when everybody is shoving in more and more ideas, trying to out gross or out shock the previous joke. They do rip the camouflage joke from Toys but I can’t really blame them for a movie nobody saw 22 years ago. They probably thought it up independently.
I still laughed a lot in Dumb and Dumber To. I won’t spoil the sequences that do play out with unabashed idiocy, or pay off an impeccable misdirect. There are sequences worth seeing in Dumb and Dumber To, eventually. There’s no rush. So now I’m conflicted. If this does well, we’ll get another sequel in this mean-spirited tone. But if it does poorly, they won’t bother to correct it for a third try. If Franchise Fred has taught you anything, you’ll be too curious about a sequel to ignore it anyway, so I suppose it’s out of my hands now.