Twenty years after their first adventure, Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) are still friends, even though Lloyd has been catatonic for most of that time. When Harry visits his friend, who reveals his entire illness has been an elaborate practical joke, Harry reveal he needs a kidney transplant, and the two set out to finds Harry’s long lost daughter, who was given up for adoption at birth. When Dumb & Dumber was released in 1994, it was a surprise success, and gave rise to an animated show, a prequel – which was critically panned – and now, finally, a sequel. It seems inevitable really, since the whole world seems obsessed with nostalgia at the moment, but some things are better left in the past.
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return to the roles that made them a small fortune in the 90s, and try though they might, they never manage to make Lloyd and Harry anything more than annoying and ignorant. Yes, I know the title is Dumb & Dumber To, but the film could easily have been subtitled Arrested Development, as neither character has grown or developed in the years since audiences first encountered them. How they survived without one another for 20 years is a mystery. Both actors resume their roles well, and these are definitely the characters from the first film, but the shine and comedy has definitely gone off this apple. The rest of the cast is made up of Rob Riggle, Laurier Holden, Rachel Melvin and Steve Tom.
The troubles with Dumb & Dumber To are many, and a lot of them have to do with the script. While there is a certain nostalgic thrill in seeing these beloved characters in screen again, the comedy style of Dumb & Dumber has been copied so many times over the years, that this film needed to do something else in order to get laughs… And doesn’t. As well as this, the gross-out style of comedy that was so polar in the 1990s has lost its appeal, with audiences often demanding smart and considered humour from their comedies. Having six screenwriters – Sean Anders, Mike Cerrone, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, John Morris and Bennett Yellin – almost certainly didn’t help matters, as the film feels disjointed and to ally all over the place. Add to this the fact that the Farrelly brothers have not made a good film since the early 2000s, and it becomes clear that Dumb & Dumber To was ever going to work.
The film scampers from one joke setup to the next, with none of the humour actually being funny. Racism, fart jokes, poop jokes and the sexual molestation of the elderly abounds; sophisticated this ain’t. Some of Jim Carrey’s physical comedy lands, but every joke is repeated and soon becomes tedious. There is a effort tie in with the jokes from the first film – Billy returns, and Lloyd has isolated the ‘second most annoying sound in the world’ – but these fall flat too.
In all Dumb & Dumber To tries super hard to be a worthy follow up to the first film, but is simply not funny. Not even a little bit. Daniels and Carrey are best walking away now and pretending this turkey never happened, and The Farrelly Brothers need to find a new brand of comedy, as this film proves, gross-out humour has fallen out of favour for a reason.