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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Retro Review: Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Dumb & Dumber 
Cast: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly, Teri Garr
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $247 million

Plot: Imbecilic best friends Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne stumble across a suitcase full of money left behind in Harry's car by Mary Swanson who was on her way to their airport. The pair decides to go to Aspen, Colorado to return the money, unaware that it is connected to a kidnapping. As Harry and Lloyd - who have fallen in love with Mary - are pursued across the country by hired killers and police, they find both their relationship and their brains tested.  

'Low Brow, Idiotic Comedy Farce, Though Not As Enjoyable As Carrey's Other Hits'

Having seen Jim Carrey's big hitters in The Mask, Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, Dumb and Dumber was the other big film that unlike the other three I hadn't seen properly and in full until recently. The success of Dumb & Dumber led to a spate of similar low brow comedies starring comedic based duos: 1995's Tommy Boy with Chris Farley and David Spade, 1997's Fathers' Day with Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, and to a much lesser extent, Stuck on You starring surprisingly Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear. Which unlike the other two films, wasn't as good. Not forgetting the gross out humour of the Farrelly Bros in There's Something About Mary and their other films. 

Limo driver Lloyd Christmas and his mate Harry are dumb and equally dumb who go to Aspen and find Mary and return the briefcase that she misplaced/lost, but they are pursued by two kidnappers, of whom are trying to retrieve it. 

Given my lack of knowledge and having not seen this film before, I was surprised to learn there was a subplot involving some kidnappers and a woman who is trying to pay them off, in exchange for the release of her husband. This subplot, along with the silly shenanigans and farce reminds me a lot of Fathers' Day, where as well as the silly slapstick humour, there was a subplot involving a runaway teenager and a pair of drug dealers. 

It's odd to see Jeff Daniels as a goofball and then watching him in the thriller, Speed starring Keanu Keeves that came out in the same year as this film as a serious cop. Whilst Jim Carrey revels as Lloyd, Daniels is entertaining in places and as well as he does here with comedy, it's not really his forte, so to speak. I'd personally would have liked to have seen another comedic actor alongside Jim Carrey as Harry in place of Jeff Daniels, who is somewhat miscast: someone who has a natural skill for comedy and humour.

Like with many of Jim Carrey's films, this one isn't deep viewing, but it offers some good laughs at its disposal. Even if he does ham it up a lot. I know a lot of people will say you have to be an unsophisticated person to enjoy this movie and the humour in it because it is just so silly and immature. I'd say if it makes you laugh and smile, then it doesn't matter how dumb and silly it is. There are however scenes where they were serious, as opposed to funny - which alludes to this film not being an outright slapstick comedy and laugh-fest throughout that so many critics have labelled this as. Yet when there was slapstick, some of it was of the toilet-fuelled kind; really stupid and buffoonish but funny: Lloyd farting whilst holding a cigarette lighter was so ridiculous but funny, the pairing eating chillies and squirting mustard and ketchup in their mouths to exacerbate the heat, as is a silly flatulence gag involving Harry and Lloyd beating up the waiters in a restaurant! 

The kidnappers weren't much to write home about and characterisation-wise, they were bland and I didn't really feel they were threatening enough. Lauren Holly as Mary just never made the impact I'd expected; her character is forgettable and not memorable. Tootsie's Teri Garr makes an appearance also, but she's only in it for a few seconds. 

Compared to The Mask, Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, I actually didn't enjoy Dumb and Dumber as much as those films and as much as I would've clearly liked, as the comedy isn't always consistent and as I'd expected. It garnered chuckles and whilst I won't deny I didn't sit through this film without moments that put a smile on my face, a lot of it didn't make me laugh out loud. The film also drags at times, especially the third act and too long as well, which is agonising and some of the scenes ought to have been trimmed down and some of the drama was too boring for me to care about. But it is daft and absurd when it wants to be, and when it is, it is really daft and absurd.

And I liked that a lot.

Final Verdict:

It's funny in places but I expected this to be way funnier and amusing, given its reputation, but it very much feels as though Dumb and Dumber should have been a lot more consistent with the delivery of the humour. Overall, for me, this ranks below that of Jim Carrey's other notable and more successful offerings in The Mask, Ace Ventura, Liar Liar and whilst Jim Carrey is in his usually suitable, farcical self as gap-toothed Lloyd, he is also the best thing about this comedy - which would've not worked as well, had it not been for Carrey's presence. 

& whilst others would have demanded more sharp wit, I'd wanted more of the moronic, dumb low-brow humour, which this film didn't have more of. 

Both 1997's Fathers Day and 1994's Dumb and Dumber are two examples where for the latter, the trailer was funny and amusing and gave us the impression it would be a laugh riot, when the film itself just doesn't live up to the trailer and that the trailer is misleading and for the former, it is the exact opposite. But whereas Fathers Day had a couple of funny and amusing slapstick moments, courtesy of Robin Williams, these funny moments in Dumb and Dumber are scattered and few and far between. 

With jokes being too obvious, predictable and annoying to a point, one wonders whether you are laughing with or at Harry and Lloyd. I'd say to an extent, yes. It's a shame, however, that this consistency of humour wasn't maintained throughout. 

Dumb and Dumber is not bad overall, but I'd choose Fathers' Day over this film. 


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