Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Dumb & Dumber (1994) **½

PG-13, 107 min.
Director: Peter Farrelly
Writers: Peter Farrelly, Bennett Yellin, Bobby Farrelly
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly, Mike Starr, Karen Duffy, Charles Rocket, Victoria Rowell, Teri Garr, Hank Brandt, Cam Neely

Tonight, the 20 years in the making sequel “Dumb and Dumber To” will open with early screenings across the country. While the original “Dumb & Dumber” may be responsible for the wave of what I call “stupid” comedies that populated the 90s and launched the careers of Bobby and Peter Farrelly, it really wasn’t all that impressive. I remember thinking that when I saw it at that time, and I wondered if maybe I just wasn’t in the right mindset for it then. Nah. That wasn’t it.

I mean the dumb parts are funny. They’re just what they’re supposed to be. Jim Carrey acting goofy, Jeff Daniels acting baffled. Those are the moments that made the movie, and they work. What doesn’t work is the very slight clothesline plot. Why a ransom plot? It just seems so random for a film with the sole purpose of being so stupid it’s funny. Why have any plot at all? Why not just send Harry and Lloyd on a road trip just to go on a road trip? All the same things could happen and it wouldn’t hinge on this stupid plot about them avoiding killers and involving other actors looking uncomfortable in their ransom storyline because no thought has been put into their characters or actions.

Certainly, the plot isn’t a devastating blow to the stupidity. It just distracts from the silly antics. The Farrelly Brothers would go on to make much better films in “Kingpin”, “There’s Something About Mary” and “Fever Pitch”, and much worse films in “The Heartbreak Kid”, “Hall Pass” and “The Three Stooges”. “Dumb & Dumber” exists in the middle ground of their talents, but at the time it was something people hadn’t seen before. The level of stupidity within it hadn’t really been attempted on that scale before. So, that is why it is held in such high regard. I hope the new one surpasses it, however.

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