Written by Ankit Ojha
What to Expect
Dumb and Dumber was never a great – save a good – film. But was it ever meant to be?
The movie, despite being agonizingly “dumb” (pun intended), just wanted to be unpretentious; its own self. And while that doesn’t merit any points on behalf of the entire film, one’s got to admit that the fact that the Farrelly brothers did a fantastic job directing the characters and the actors in question – Jeff Daniels (television’s The Newsroom) and Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) – gave their all to bringing two of the most ridiculously impossible characters to life with their superior performances must have clicked, not just with the audience, but with an above-average number of critics too. The movie has now attained an unprecedented cult status amongst people who grew up with it and the people who watched it during the time-frame of its release.
Of course, the almost replication of the plot to When Harry Met Lloyd was never going to work – and it didn’t. Yes, it attained some financial success; although not a lot. But that was inevitable. The Farrelly brothers weren’t really involved, and that – of course – must have affected the core personality of the film.
This is when the news of the Farrelly brothers returning to the ridiculous universe of Harry and Lloyd came to fore. Of course, not only did they bring back the duo of Carrey and Daniels, the news was that they were literally going to make it a faithful sequel with a truckload of strands of the original.
The doubt – as always – was if they were going to make a good film out of the sequel, if not great. Their last films – Hall Pass and The Three Stooges – have been progressively disappointing, with their sincerest efforts being left at Shallow Hal and Stuck on You, which released more than a decade ago.
What’s it About?
Twenty years after the first film, this one kicks off on a hunt to find Harry’s yet unknown daughter. Predictably enough, there’s a conspiracy woven through it all, and how the duo – also consisting of Lloyd – survive it all forms the rest of the story.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The most important thing to note concerning this film is the basic nostalgia involved with the first film – which is what the second film stands its ground on. Bobby and Peter do a fantastic job at bringing back the characters with the exact enthusiasm that the first film left off with. It’s nice to notice that Harry’s character has had a percent or two of developmental progress. We see Daniels adjusting to the character like a hand fits a glove – despite the passing of so many years. This, I consider damn impressive. Carrey predictably pulls off the goofball, like he usually does, effortlessly. Compared to the last film, however, Lloyd’s likability factor is pushed down threateningly low here. But then again, the question that arises here is: was Lloyd ever too likable as a character?
Here’s the absolutely disappointing news however. Dumb and Dumber To is a disappointingly unfunny film, what with the gags being regularly intermittent cringe-fests, thrown at the unsuspecting audiences in bursts. The gags do get repetitive, and tax upon the nature of the film for reasons more than one. And following up to The Three Stooges, the movie plods along its tiredly predictable murder-conspiracy-with-the protagonists-at-the-wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time formula, which, inadvertently, was present – and tolerable – in the first installment of the now-franchise.
To top it all, there’s the plot-thread of Harry’s daughter and the mystery behind her existence, which is so poorly handled it becomes nothing more than a mere plot device added for the sake of moving the film forward. There are many would would claim that the inclusion of this plot device is more debatable than unnecessary, but if you’ve seen the Farrelly-brothers’ own There’s Something About Mary , the movie has a bunch of subplots, character arcs and plot devices used cleverly amongst a comedy that managed to include a lot of heart and romance within the utter outrageousness – which actually clicked. Of course, the kind of comedy here is relatively brasher, but the example I used was solely to portray how deft the directors were in handling a lot more of the same-kind of plot devices in another one of their very own films.
Here’s where the movie’s biggest strength arises: there’s a high chance the film will get a lot of love and support from the fans of the original. They won’t mind taking the film for a spin, if only to meet their favorite characters and take a spin down the memory-lane of absolute brain-dead laughs. Now, let me track-back a bit here: I definitely have no problems with brain-dead laughs at all. I’ve had my share of utterly-likable films that don’t have a shred of credibility to them. What this film lacks highly is the timing. Except for possibly one highly funny scene, the rest of the film misfires heavily, and is predictably highly reliant on the gags of the protagonists that mostly don’t work.
In its own non-reticency, the film keeps in with the tone, providing you with a very eighties-to-nineties vibe. Right from the steady camerawork to the picturesque cinematography all the way to the production design of the film, there’s a lot of nostalgia interwoven through the (but weak) threads of the movie. The soundtrack goes in synch with the vibe the film intends to create, and is pretty pleasant.
To Perform or Not to Perform
Whatever the movie may have lacking, it rests completely on the sincere performances of Daniels and Carrey. Daniels who’s evolved more into a different genre of character that he’s tackling, gets back and dons the role with a T. He’s a fantastic performer, and the fact that he’s able to pull off such an unreasonable character so effortlessly is just amazing. Jim Carrey is great as well, but as we all know physical comedic genres have almost always been his forte. A return to a role as such would come across as no surprise thus. Brady Bluhm is yet another returning character (albeit in a cameo) as Billy the blind kid, and he has given enough resonance even for newcomers to the film’s universe to feel for him as a character. Kathleen Turner does a fine job for her role. Rachel Melvin (Days of our Lives) pitches in possibly the most redundant performance of her career here, where she actually plays a weird spin-off of Carrey and Daniels. It may arguably have been intended, but her character feels like nothing more than a rehashed prop, unfortunately. Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street) poses a moderately enjoyable performance. Laurie Holden basically replaces Karen Duffy (from the first film) in the template she’s been restricted to. The others are strictly functional.
It’s quite the slippery slope to give an opinion of a rather physical comedy film that’s spawned as a direct sequel of what’s been called “legendary”. A very good friend (who possibly appreciated the film) stated eloquently: “It’s not a film for everyone to adjust to.” [sic]. And indeed it isn’t. For the fans of the original who are expecting heavy nostalgia, there is a high possibility that this is going to be a highly likable film. For newcomers to the franchise, however, there’s not much to appreciate apart from the performances.
As far as the movie goes, the movie is a ridiculously unfunny disappointment, with most (or all) of its gags losing out heavily on the timing factor, ending up being cringe-fests more than anything else. For the newcomers who do like it however, I’ll probably be able to understand where they’ve come from. A ridiculously disparaging film like Freddy Got Fingered has its own unprecedented fan-base after its home release, which is a testimony to the fact that comedy as a wide genre can sometimes be more subjective than universal. That will still not take away from the fact that the movie doesn’t work as a standalone film.
Star Rating: 1.5 / 5