Movie Review: “Dumb and Dumber To”

Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Laurie Holden, Rob Riggle, Rachel Melvin, Kathleen Turner, Steve Tom
Bobby & Peter Farrelly

Sequels are rarely a good idea, but particularly when the original was released so long ago that part of the new film’s target audience wasn’t even born yet. Though there had been rumblings of a follow-up to Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s 1994 cult classic “Dumb and Dumber” for a number of years, the pieces never fell into place until now. Unfortunately, while the promise of seeing Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne together again may have sounded like a fun slice of nostalgia, it’s obvious within minutes of “Dumb and Dumber To” that, despite trying to recapture the goofball magic of the first movie, it never quite clicks.

It’s been 20 years since Lloyd (Jim Carrey) had his heart broken by Mary Swanson, and during that time, he’s been living at a mental hospital in a catatonic state… only to reveal to his friend Harry (Jeff Daniels) that it was all an elaborate prank. Harry appreciates the commitment to the gag, but he has much bigger things on his mind, like the fact that he’ll die unless he gets a new kidney. When Harry discovers that an old flame, Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner), gave up their daughter for adoption 22 years earlier, Harry and Lloyd set off to track her down in the hope that the gorgeous but dumb Penny (Rachel Melvin) is willing to donate a kidney to the biological dad she never met. Along the way, the duo gets caught up in a plot to kill Penny’s adoptive father (Steve Tom) by his duplicitous trophy wife (Laurie Holden) and groundskeeper (Rob Riggle), who are after the scientist’s large inheritance, including a mystery box that he’s entrusted to Harry and Lloyd to deliver to a TED-like science conference where Penny is accepting an award on his behalf.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because “Dumb and Dumber To” follows the same basic story beats of the original, with Lloyd and Harry embarking on a cross-country road trip to find a girl and inadvertently uncovering a criminal scheme in the process. While that’s not as problematic as it would be for most sequels – after all, these guys are so dumb that they transcend logic – there’s something that just feels off about this installment. Whether it’s because Carrey and Daniels play their characters slightly differently (you can practically see them dusting off the proverbial cobwebs in certain scenes after such a long hiatus from the roles), or the fact that the Farrelly brothers’ brand of slapstick potty humor is no longer innocently perverse, but instead lazy, mean-spirited and tone-deaf, the movie comes across like a bad impersonation.

It’s almost comical that the screenplay has six credited writers and yet this was the best that they could come up with. Production was even reportedly delayed several times because Carrey and Daniels weren’t happy with the script, so it begs the question, what changed between those earlier drafts and the final version? Because while the film is every bit as idiotic as its predecessor (perhaps even more so), it lacks the cleverness of “Dumb and Dumber,” especially the way it made you laugh at the stupidest things without feeling guilty about it. “Dumb and Dumber To” has some gags that work really well, but a majority of the jokes fall flat, including many of the callbacks to the first movie, which seem incredibly forced. In fact, the only thing that makes the sequel somewhat watchable is Carrey and Daniels, who are totally game to do anything for a laugh. But while it’s nice to see the two actors rekindle their winning chemistry on screen, this is one property that Hollywood would have been better off leaving alone.