Sequels can be rough territory. Comedy sequels…even more so. While some Part 2-ers rely on blatant joke recycling (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), others attempt to brave it out in new territory (Ghostbusters II, Wayne’s World 2). The Farrelly Brothers’ latest, Dumb and Dumber To, falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, massaging our need for nostalgia, while delivering some really…well, dumb…jokes and punchlines that brought about some genuinely hearty Julia Roberts-style cackles.
When we first meet our beloved idiotic duo, Harry is visiting Lloyd in a mental institution. Lloyd is heartbroken over his rejection from Mary Swanson and 20 years later, he’s still in a nearly catatonic state. You know how this turns out…because damn you, movie trailers that show too much! Harry then tells Lloyd that his health is failing and he’s in desperate need of a kidney. A letter from a past lover, Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), divulges that Harry fathered a child that she later gave up for adoption. The dumbest dumbheads around then hit the road in search of his long-lost daughter (Rachel Melvin) and her healthy and hopefully available kidney…but not without a few adventures along the way.
The early negative reviews surprise me (the movie is only 27% fresh on RottenTomatoes), but then again this isn’t a movie you see because of its reviews. Perhaps the biggest gripe one can have about the movie is its set-up: a cross-country trip to deliver something of value to someone important, while also having an ulterior motive. That can feel periodically stale and wears on you a little throughout the 110 minute run. And maybe some of the nostalgia wears a bit thin for those with too high expectations. But Dumb and Dumber To never tries to reinvent the wheel. Were we expecting it to? These characters are absolute morons. To deviate too much from their mostly meaningless lives would disrupt what made the series special in the first place. If you absolutely loved the first one, don’t let the reviews get you down because:
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are super talented at being so brainless. Their chemistry is right on par with how it was when we left them two decades ago. Maybe their vocal delivery was a bit skewed (the lisp, or lack thereof, for example), but these two together is still comedic gold and should be highly welcomed.
Newcomers Melvin and Turner were excellent too – with Melvin mirroring her father’s (and Lloyd’s) braindead mannerisms inside a cutesy 20-something’s body. It worked for me. And of course there are plenty of cameos to go around, from both celebrities and old characters from the original. (I won’t ruin them, but stay ‘til the end of the credits!).
Is Dumb and Dumber To less essential and less memorable than its first outing? Sure. But is it just a cash grab that rests on its laurels? Nah. I fully enjoyed the movie from beginning to end (I liked it…a LOT). If you’re one of the loyalist die-hards like my wife (HI, EM!) who has been waiting desperately to see Harry and Lloyd back together again, then you’re in for a treat. With reasonable expectations, you’ll have a really stupidfun night at the movies.
Just don’t forget: Harry and Lloyd aren’t reinventing themselves here. They’re far too dumb for that.