November 13, 2014

Dumb and Dumber To

Oh, I get it. You're "birdbrained." [crickets]

Grade: C –
Director: Bobby and Peter Farrelly
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Rob Riggle, Laurie Holden, Rachel Melvin and Kathleen Turner
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hr. 53 min.

During Dumb and Dumber To, lunkheaded Lloyd (Jim Carrey) is tricked into reaching below an elder nursing home patient’s bedding, searching for some supposedly missing diamonds. When Grannie’s contented grin prompts Lloyd that his groping has extended into the holiest of holies, he jerks away and, for the punch line, blows a dust cloud off his hand.

The scene is a fitting metaphor for a script seemingly extracted from a similarly musty void. Released 20 years ago, Dumb and Dumber was the first feature film for writer-directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly. That led off a triumvirate of irreverent comedies—Kingpin and There’s Something About Mary—over a four-year period that ensconced the Farrelly brothers as leaders of a new breed of cutting-edge comedy filmmakers.

But there are only so many grangina gags and yucks targeting minorities and the mentally challenged. Once that well dried up, it ushered in a 16-year creative drought for the Farrellys. And unfortunately, Dumb and Dumber To feels more like a neutered homage than a revival. [To the brothers’ partial credit, they played no part in the hideous knockoff prequel, Dumb and Dumber: When Harry Met Lloyd.]

After Lloyd emerges from an elaborate hoax where he faked being in a catatonic state for 20 years—another unintentional metaphor—he and manic doof pal Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) leave Rhode Island and embark on another road adventure, this time to track down Harry’s previously unknown daughter Penny (Rachel Melvin). Harry needs a kidney replacement, and he hopes Penny might be a “genital donor match.” Meanwhile, Lloyd’s motivation are his daydreams of wooing the fetching but equally dimwitted Penny.

Along the way, Lloyd and Harry become embroiled in a plot by Adele Pinchelow (Laurie Holden), Penny’s adopted mother, and her groundskeeper Travis (Rob Riggle) to kill Adele’s husband (Steve Tom), a famous scientist. There’s also a MacGuffin, a box containing a billion-dollar solution to the problems plaguing humankind that Dr. Pinchelow gives to Lloyd and Harry to deliver to Penny in El Paso, Texas.

There’s the expected surefit of flatulence and scatalogy, but it’s as stale as Carrey and Daniels’ man-child schtick, now creepily embodied in two fiftysomething actors. At least there’s an ease and familiarity to Carrey’s wit and physical comedy, which occasionally borders on inspired. On the other hand, Daniels can reel off the malaprops but appears uncomfortable, even embarrassed revisiting Harry’s arrested development.

Riggle ends up playing two roles, and he’s forgettable in both. Meanwhile, the actress formerly resembling Kathleen Turner is Fraida Felcher (make it stop…), the aging town floozy and Penny’s biological mom. And as if the audience wasn’t already quiet enough, a cameo by Mama June of Honey Boo Boo infamy adds a dollop of awkwardness.

At one point in Dumb and Dumber To there’s also a train wreck, perhaps the most appropriate metaphor of all.

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