At first I was excited to know I was gonna get a chance to experience the continued adventures of Harry and Lloyd... The original Dumb and Dumber is (in my opinion) one of the greatest comedies ever made. Not only is it exceedingly clever, but it also withstands the test of time. It's still funny!! So I'm sure you can imagine my disappointment when the final product turned out to be little more than a get together and money grab.
Okay, it's not just that. The right people returned to this project for what seemed like the right reasons. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels relive their early career success and it's fun to remember that in many ways this is where they started. And the Farrelly brothers came back to direct... but they didn't write it, which is weird but not surprising. I get the feeling a studio wouldn't have trusted them with the script at this point given their many recent failures... but then why would the studio still trust them to direct? The trouble with the Farrelly brothers isn't that they didn't have potential. In fact, their first two flicks seemed to show only upward trajectory. But these guys just never seemed to learn to be better. After There's Something About Mary, things just seemed to get crasser and crasser, and the quality of the work just fell and fell. Dumb and Dumber was lightning in a bottle. It worked so well because it had two up and coming actors playing so perfectly off of one another in a scenario that felt truly hilarious. If the film felt cheap, the grain and concept allowed for that and kept the movie rolling. But this modern sequel came too late. Technology has taken away the graininess that helped mask the Farrelly brothers' inadequacies. And their choice of lighting and camera work (and this is not a new revelation for these guys) just came across as lazy.
But I'm gonna stop ripping on the directors for a minute while I question other aspects of this bizarre misstep. The script doesn't work. You'd think after twenty years, some fanboy somewhere would've taken pen to paper and come up with a legitimately awesome idea for a sequel. When Lloyd discovers the briefcase at the airport in the first film, the setup is just clever enough to get the audience involved... because these guys have no clue what they're doing or how the world works. But the kidney setup of this sequel just isn't pulled off with the same tact. Then there's the secondary storyline of the conniving wife of the rich scientist... and honestly nothing about that works even a little bit. It feels lazy, cheap, come up with any number of words to say that this was poorly conceived. But the most surprising failure... and one that probably could've been rectified with better directors and a better script... is Jeff Daniels' performance. What the first Dumb and Dumber accomplished so well was two actors acting at two different levels of stupidity. Jeff Daniels felt far more down to earth than Jim Carrey and somehow everything worked. But in this sequel, Jeff Daniels seems to want only to play up to Carrey's level of zaniness. It's really disheartening because he is a really good actor. But the ham level here just ignores every factor of what made him so good originally.
On that note, I'll leave you to decide. Is it worth watching your favorite characters from the early nineties get impaled on a spike of mediocrity? To be fair, there are some good fun moments, but they are really far and inbetween. And indeed, the audience I saw the movie with on opening night cackled their heads off in a horrified and depraved kind of enjoyment. But that doesn't change the truth of what this movie fails to be. Enter at your own risk.