The bad news is, “Dumb and Dumber To” is exactly what you expect it to be. Or maybe that’s the good news. It’s hard to say.
It probably comes down to how you felt about “Dumb and Dumber,” the 1994 film that introduced us to Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, played, respectively (but not respectfully), by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. To some, it’s a quotable comedy classic, and the pinnacle of Carrey’s manic comedy era. To others it’s not.
“Dumb and Dumber To” is our first glimpse of Harry and Lloyd since that first film, unless you count “Dumb and Dumberer,” the 2003 prequel that failed to cast either Carrey or Daniels.
Waiting 20 years for a sequel is never a good sign (insert your own “Ghostbusters” reboot joke here), and “Dumb and Dumber To” probably won’t be recruiting any new fans. At least, we should all hope it doesn’t. You could argue that this kind of film is made for snickering 13-year-old boys, but that doesn’t give snickering 13-year-old boys very much credit.
Breaking down a movie like this is almost beside the point, but here goes: 20 years after the events of the first film, Harry finds Lloyd in a rest home and recruits him for a special mission. Harry needs a kidney transplant, and his only hope is Penny (Rachel Melvin), a long-lost daughter he only recently discovered he had.
After consulting with Penny’s mother Fraida (Kathleen Turner), Harry and Lloyd hit the road, hoping to find Penny at a science conference in El Paso. From here, plot-wise, “Dumb and Dumber To” more or less becomes a retread of the original.
There is, of course, opposition. Harry and Lloyd’s own idiocy is always their biggest obstacle, but they also get to deal with Adele (Laurie Holden), the scheming wife of Penny’s adopted father Dr. Pinchelow (Steve Tom). Pinchelow is a renowned scientist with a mysterious invention worth a very large fortune, and when he gives it to Harry and Lloyd to deliver to Penny at the conference, our heroes get caught in the crossfire.
All of this is merely an excuse to fill nearly two hours of screen time with lowbrow jokes covering a variety of bodily functions, odd fantasy sequences, and lots and lots of jokes about handicaps again, just like the original. To be fair, there are a few funny bits here and there, but when you’re throwing jokes at the wall for 110 minutes, a few are bound to stick.
Carrey picks up his Christmas character like he never left the 1990s, and though his face is as dynamic as ever, watching him yuk it up here is a little sad. Daniels is the real mystery though. The first film was released the year after his performance as Col. Joshua Chamberlain in the Civil War epic “Gettysburg,” and his return to the role comes after winning a 2013 Emmy for “The Newsroom.” It’s almost as if he is determined to undermine his own credibility.
Given that several of Harry’s gags involve him dropping his pants to various degrees, Daniel’s quest appears to be a success. “Dumb and Dumber To” may be a PG-13 movie, but it is not for the faint of heart. Much of its humor feels specifically designed to repulse, and audiences should be warned.
This is all par for the course for a film directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, who, in addition to the first “Dumb and Dumber,” have plied their own brand of off-color scatological humor through films like “There’s Something About Mary” and “Stuck on You” for years.
So is “Dumb and Dumber To” a worthy sequel to its infamous predecessor? Honestly, you’re probably asking the wrong guy. If you hated the first one, you’ll hate this one. If you loved the first one, you’ll at least enjoy this one, though it’s hard to imagine this sequel has done anything special for the — am I really writing this? — franchise.Comment on this story
“Dumb and Dumber To” is rated PG-13 for continual off-color humor, vulgarity, comic violence, sexual content and profanity (including a robotically synthesized — yes, you read that right — usage of the f-word). Daniels’ bare backside is also played for laughs on multiple occasions.
Joshua Terry is a freelance writer and photojournalist who appears weekly on "The KJZZ Movie Show" and also teaches English composition for Salt Lake Community College. More of his work is at woundedmosquito.com.