Harry (Jeff Daniels) has been visiting the catatonic Lloyd (Jim Carrey) in hospital every since Mary broke his heart in 1994. But after Lloyd confesses that he’s just been playing an elaborate, 20 year-long prank on Harry, the two hapless no-hopers begin a brand new adventure. Harry needs a new kidney and discovers that he has an illegitimate daughter he never knew about. Will she be willing to give him the transplant and save his life?
There have been quite a few popular films that have had sequels made many years after the original. Most don’t work but this isn’t the case with Dumb and Dumber To. Perhaps it’s just a matter of tomfoolery being timeless, but this movie does an admirable job in keeping most of what made the original Dumb and Dumber so entertaining and ridiculous. The fact that they address the very long wait between films in one solitary gag says it all too.
The links to the past are great to see – take Brady Bluhm, who returns as Billy the blind boy from their apartment complex. Even as a grown up, Harry and Lloyd have fun at his expense, with this brief but hilarious scene personifying the tone of the sequel. The famous dog-van makes a reappearance and there are enough in-jokes to keep die-hard fans of the original on their toes – both subtle and obvious.
But this isn’t a film that relies solely on the nostalgia factor, even though that does play a big part. There are plenty of fresh and funny jokes this time around and credit needs to go to the Farrelly Brothers direction. It’s hard to recreate the original magic in a new world setting and at times it doesn’t work, but a lot has changed in twenty years and concessions need to be made. If there is one grievance, it’s that Lloyd comes across as a little bit more malicious rather than just blissfully unaware. It’s still humorous but not as funny as when he accidentally does things wrong (like in the first movie).
Then there’s the music. The first Dumb and Dumber soundtrack was amazing and this movie continues the trend with a great selection of classic and contemporary tunes – all of them perfectly complimenting the craziness onscreen. The wonderful love-theme instrumental that played whenever Lloyd thought about Lauren Holly in the first movie now accompanies the brilliant Rachel Melvin as Penny. It feels very 90’s throughout and that makes it seamlessly fit in with the original soundtrack, despite the two decade gap.
The success of the film lies squarely with the genius of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. It’s been a hell of a long wait but they have finally returned to their iconic roles with healthy levels of excitement, energy and hilarity. They bounce off one another effortlessly and fall into the rhythm straight away. It’s easy to play stupid onscreen but to do it with real gusto and keep the audience with you throughout requires skill. These two are a joy to watch and it’s excellent to see them reunited again.
The supporting cast are all solid too with Rachel Melvin quite sweet as Harry’s daughter Penny. She brings a wide-eyed stupidity to everything she touches and her glazed-over innocence perfectly meshes with the outlandish Lloyd and Harry. Kathleen Turner plays Penny’s birth mother Fraida Felcher and is always at the wrong end of gags referring to her as a man. Kudos to Turner for being such a good sport about this – much like she did when playing Chandler’s dad on Friends.
The Walking Dead’s Laurie Holden and comedy king Rob Riggle are excellent as a devious couple trying to swindle some money from her husband (Steve Tom). Riggle in particular has brilliant comic timing and his scenes on the road with Harry and Lloyd are a joy – the one where he convinces them to play a made-up game called funnel nuts is just gold. If you look closely, there’s even a cameo from Bill Murray as Harry’s new room-mate, who happens to be running a meth-lab out of their apartment.
Dumb and Dumber To is an enjoyable sequel and a nice trip down memory lane. It’s not a patch on the original but then, it was never going to be. If you approach it in the right way, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. They may look a bit older but their approach and method gleefully remains the same. The jokes land, the plot is exciting and ludicrous in equal measure and the sheer enthusiasm from both Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey carry this through. It’s just a shame that at times, the characters lose their innocence in favour of crassness. Good intention was always what drove them in the first movie and occasionally, it feels like they are just being mean for the sake of it in the sequel. But that’s not to say that it isn’t funny either way. Stay until the very end of the credits too for a particularly brilliant scene that fans of the original movie will love.