Twenty years after they permanently lowered the bar on broad and dumb character comedies, Lloyd and Harry are back, “Dumb and Dumber” than ever, in “Dumb and Dumber To.”
And within moments of the opening credits, you may find yourself overcome with sentimental warmth at seeing two 50-something actors as characters that the years have not made smarter. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels energetically reprise their popular roles, and the warmth follows.
Sure, it’s only trickling down your leg and never comes close to reaching your heart, but warmth is warmth, right?
Those flatulence-joke farceurs, the Farrellys, re-team with their stars and an equally aged supporting cast for a film of occasional funny lines, random uproarious sight gags and bodily function jokes, all scented with a whiff of sad desperation. They’re “Stooges” in a post-“Hangover” world, and the staleness shows.
Harry visits a catatonic, bearded Lloyd in a rest home only to learn he’s been the butt of Lloyd’s 20-year-long practical joke. His comeuppance? Harry enlists two groundskeepers to help him yank out Lloyd’s catheter (after changing his colostomy bag, with his teeth, of course).
And they’re off, doubling up on a Schwinn to visit Harry’s estranged parents and then the aged, bloated floozy (Kathleen Turner, enduring jokes about her current appearance) who supposedly had Harry’s baby and gave her up for adoption decades ago.
Harry needs a kidney donor. So the 50-something “10-year-olds” motor to Maryland and then El Paso in search of the dopey bombshell (Rachel Melvin, out of her depth) who might be his donor-daughter, a “genital donor match.”
The Farrellys, who peaked with the raunchy, rude and yet romantic “There’s Something About Mary” in 1998, hurl miss-or-hit sight gags and throw-away lines at us. Harry looks over 20 years of mail his parents saved for him.
“Oh. I got into Arizona State!”
Six credited writers and you get malapropisms such as “It’s all water under the fridge,” and “That’s just a suburban legend!” Carrey ensures that he gets almost all the funny lines here. But the fetching Miss Melvin tries her hand at a couple as her character wonders if she should “go to India and volunteer at one of those Leprechaun colonies.”
Carrey’s recent appearance on “Saturday Night Live” reminded us of his gift for mimicry, and his post-Farrelly films have shown ambition and flashes of brilliance. Daniels has been reliably funny in a wide range of comedies over the decades. They can still bring it. Watching Carrey eat a mustard-drenched hot dog is positively Keatonesque – Buster, not Michael.
Truth be told, I was never a fan of the first “Dumber,” but the stars made it endurable and convincingly stupid. Here, they’re sometimes funny, and sometimes just forlorn. They’re better than this, no matter how good they are at hiding the fact that they know it.
A whole generation has grown up on the antics of these two Rhode Island rubes, so a little nostalgia isn’t unwarranted. Box office hopes for this pre-packaged but very late sequel should be high. But the strain shows in the wizened-but-not-wiser stars.
It’s just that comedy left the Farrellys behind over 10 years ago, and even their best efforts at reviving their PG-13 Three Stooges style feels old-fashioned and tired.
‘Dumb and Dumber To’
Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, partial nudity, language and some drug references
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Kathleen Turner
Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly