I can’t recall the last time a theater was as quiet as the
one where I saw Dumb and Dumber To
the other night. Yes, there was occasional laughter—more often than not,
without my participation—but when the film was over, there was little response
of any kind. If there was a device that could measure the impact of jokes
falling flat, this film would be an ideal test subject.
Full disclosure: I was not a fan of the original Dumb and Dumber twenty years ago, so I
wasn’t eagerly awaiting this reunion of its stars. But I was willing to give it
a shot; after all, Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are major talents. Carrey is
able to embrace the silly simplicity of his character without breaking a sweat.
Jeff Daniels gives it his all, but perhaps my awareness of his other work makes
it harder for me to accept him as a goofball. It’s certainly not for lack of
effort on his part; he matches Carrey’s wide-eyed infantilism at every turn and
never breaks character.
My chief complaint about Dumb
and Dumber To is that it isn’t very funny. The ratio of laughs to dead air
is shockingly high.( Of course, I felt that way about the first film in 1994,
and millions of people loved it.)
It’s also a bit disconcerting to encounter a roster of
unfamiliar faces in supporting roles, with the notable exceptions of Rob Riggle
and Kathleen Turner. The other actors, presumably cast on location in Atlanta,
are competent, but directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly could have gotten much
more out of expert comedy players.
The Farrellys are among six writers credited with the story
and screenplay for Dumb and Dumber To. I
don’t know if anyone could have done more with the shaky premise of reuniting
the aging characters of Harry and Lloyd—or if they just shoulda stayed in bed.