Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Dumb and Dumber To

Back in 1990, a phenomenon began and started at just the right time.  The television comedy skit show, “In Living Color,” took over the air waves when “Saturday Night Live” was losing a bit of steam.  Among the talent that spawned from “In Living Color” were comedians such as Keenen Ivory Wayans (the host and creator of the show), Damon Wayans, David Alan Grier, Jamie Foxx, and Jim Carrey.  At the time, the show was more cutting edge, had a funnier cast, hilarious and boundary-pushing skits, and was an all-around hit.  I loved the show and thought Damon Wayans was the funniest comedian on the show.  The character, Homey the Clown, was so popular and had everybody reciting his famous catchphrase—Homey Don’t Play That.  Looking back, the weird thing I remember about my feelings of the show was that I really didn’t enjoy what Jim Carrey brought to the table.  I know he was well-liked and had quite a few characters he made memorable as well—like Fire Marshall Bill—but I really hadn’t liked his comedy.

Cut to 1994 and the release of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.  People were very excited to see this flick, but I had no intention of going until a group of buddies overrode the decision for movie night one evening and I found myself sitting in the theater to see the flick.  That was the day I had become a Jim Carrey fan, laughing my ass off throughout that whole movie and going to see it a few more times (one time for free because the projector stopped working near the end of the film during my first watch) before it showed up on home video.  Now, I didn’t go and search for movies he’d done before because I actually caught an episode of “The Duck Factory” one night and saw what a dud Carrey could be in the wrong environment.  Sometimes terrible (Once Bitten), sometimes pretty funny (his bit part in Peggy Sue Got Married), but if I’d happen to catch a past movie on cable or television, I’d stop to see it.

Even though his Ace Ventura film was a hit with his fans and gained him a bit more notoriety for his quirky type of comedy, we’d gotten to see a bit more of it in The Mask until he hit it home with Dumb & Dumber—and this was all in 1994!

From that point on, he’d garnered the perfect part for him as The Riddler in Batman Forever, filmed a sequel to Ace Ventura, played a creepy—yet funny—title part in The Cable Guy, the hilarious and touching Liar Liar, until he delved into a bit of drama with The Truman Show. 

Jim Carrey had the ultimate actor/comedian life and didn’t look like it was stopping anytime soon.  When the sequel, or rather prequel, to Dumb& amp; Dumber was in the works and they had asked him to return, he was a big star and couldn’t resort to going back to that level of his past (and it’s a good thing because that flick was terrible).  No, it seemed as if Carrey wanted to pursue a different path in his acting, seeming like he was bit by the dramatic bug and wanted to stay away from comedies.  Sure, he took the part in Me, Myself & Irene, but he maintained his course through such slugs as The Majestic and The Number 23 (I had a hard time staying awake through that one).  Even in his real life, he’d started acting strange and apparently found a new lot in life, which he can’t be faulted for…we all do that at times in our life.  Many times, the news media show, “TMZ,” would catch him near his art studio in Southern California and he would agreeably part some of his weird wisdom, not sounding like the Jim Carrey we all knew and loved.

But, hey, Carrey remained successful…it’s not like he became down-and-out or went broke…he just became a different guy in the real world.  So after a few more fledgling films that were panned by critics, 2014 comes along and brings us the sequel 20 years in the making—Dumb and Dumber To.

I really didn’t know what to think besides…that they just waited…too…long.  But then I had started to gain a little faith and felt that Jim Carrey could slip back into his Lloyd Christmas character like an old pair of slippers, giving us a laugh riot per minute.

Or did he?


Twenty years since their first adventure, Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) go on a road trip to find Harry’s newly discovered daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin), who was given up for adoption.

So the opening of the film, which was released to the public online as an extra length trailer, shows that Lloyd, after losing out on the girl of his dreams, Mary Swanson, has been at a nursing facility for twenty years with his best friend Harry visiting him constantly.  On one such visit, after two decades without saying a word, Lloyd finally yells out “gotcha!” to let Harry know he’d been pranking him all these years.  It was a very funny start and I really had high hopes for this film, thinking the Farrelly Brothers had captured lightning in a bottle for a second time.  However, reflecting back on this film, maybe it’s a bit unfair to expect it to be a second notable film, that it should contain as many memorable lines that you’d recite to your friends endlessly.  So, I started to look at it as a standalone comedy film and feel I can be a bit more lenient on my views.

First off, the callbacks are great.  We get to meet Freida Felcher (Kathleen Turner) who was mentioned in funny exposition in the first film.  Billy the blind boy (Brady Bluhm) is back—and they actually found the kid from the original movie to come back and reprise his role.  The guys return to their original apartment (or a pretty good recreation of it), albeit Harry had taken in a new roommate, Ice Pick (Bill Murray, completely unrecognizable in hazmat suit while he’s cooking up meth), after Lloyd was committed years ago.  Sea Bass (Cam Neely) is back and we get to see the Shaggin’ Wagon again…though, only for a short amount of time.  So you’ll get some good chuckles from those references and cameos.

The story, though, is a bit weak and doesn’t play out that funny at times.  But there are some fresh and funny moments peppered throughout the film.  The whole mistaken phone call between Harry and Lloyd—while they’re sitting right next to each other—made me laugh quite a bit.  Sometimes the storyline gets a bit awkward, a lot like how I’d felt when I watched Carrey’s film, Yes Man, like when there are some implied love interest between a man in his late 50s with a girl in her 20s…it was a bit more funny here—seeing that it was a bit one-sided—than in Yes Man, but still made me cringe a bit.

So, I’d mentioned that it would be easy for Carrey to slip into his old role of Lloyd, that he should be able to do it in his sleep.  For the most part, he does, but he seems to interject a bit of meanness to the character here.  I know he played the part of Lloyd in the previous film as a complete dumbass, but he still had a heart of gold (unless you did him wrong, then it’s the laxative for you).  Here, in Dumb and Dumber To, he’s a bit racist (when he interacts with Harry’s adoptive parents) and a little violent in the vain of Moe Howard from The Three Stooges.

Still, judging by its own merits and not comparing it to the original movie, Dumb and Dumber To is a very funny movie and definitely has its moments.  If I had to pick anything that slows this movie down is the inclusion of Rob Riggle in the dual role of Travis and his twin brother, Captain Mippincott.  Though Riggle is a very funny comedian, he didn’t seem to gel in this film and it felt like the movie had changed gears when he appeared on screen.  Also, the insertion of Harry’s long lost daughter, Penny, was a bit off as well.

So…my final “bit” on Dumb and Dumber To?

In total, a very funny movie, definitely a fitting conclusion to the Harry and Lloyd adventures (I really don’t see them doing another movie any time soon).  While Daniels and Carrey noticeably aged quite a bit (Daniels was 39 while Carrey was 32 in the first one, now 59 and 52 respectively), they still jumped into their dumb personas hilariously.  The references come at you pretty quick, so you may want to rewind a joke or two to catch them at times—Oh man! The scene where Lloyd interacts with the angry dog is great!—but you’ll have a good time with the return of the two dumb best friends, Harry and Lloyd.
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